Giants' bottom-third of lineup ranks near top in production


When he came out in support of the universal DH this spring, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi offered a compelling case for why it would help his team.

"Obviously it's sort of an organizational priority for us to have a deep roster," Zaidi said in March. "So having more at-bats to go around is a good thing for us."

The Giants won 107 games last season in large part because of the depth of their lineup, and they were confident they could gain another edge over other organizations with everyone now having a ninth spot to fill every night. Through the first month and a half of the season, there's good news and bad news on that front. 

The Giants have, in fact, found ways to get tremendous production from the bottom of their lineup, although it's not ideal when your 7-8-9 hitters are your best at times. Entering Tuesday night's game, which the Giants won 10-7 over the Colorado Rockies, the third of their lineup with the highest OPS was the last one.

In the win, the Giants continued to get huge contributions from the bottom third, with No. 7 hitter Brandon Crawford picking up three hits and No. 8 hitter Thairo Estrada going 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI. That bumped the team's OPS from 7-8-9 hitters up to .743, the second-highest in the Majors to the Los Angeles Dodgers (.813), which should come as no surprise. The two organizations are the best in the National League right now at accruing depth and finding hidden gems, although the Dodgers certainly have a bit more star power at the bottom of their lineup. 

With Curt Casali's two homers on Monday night, the Giants have 13 from the bottom third of their lineup, which trails only the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. Their 63 RBI from the 7-8-9 spots easily leads the Majors. It also is more than the Giants have gotten from their 4-5-6 hitters, which is where this becomes a mixed bag, but also a reason for optimism. 

The Giants anticipated having more depth than just about anyone, but they also hoped for a lot more from the key spots in their order. Right now, that's where all of the upside lies for an offense that is now fully healthy for the first time this season. 

Entering Wednesday's finale at Coors Field, the Giants rank dead last in OPS from their No. 3 hitter (.473), with a lot of that being due to Darin Ruf's early-season struggles. They are right in the middle of the pack in production from the cleanup spot and were struggling to get consistent damage from leadoff hitters until Tommy La Stella's huge game Tuesday night, but Gabe Kapler now has his full stable of options and can play the matchups more than he did in April and especially early May, when injuries and Covid cases ravaged the roster. 

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On Tuesday, Kapler had one of his preferred leadoff hitters against right-handed hitters, and La Stella made an immediate impact with a leadoff homer. Mike Yastrzemski, who started the season hitting leadoff, was pushed down to the fifth spot and had three hits.

There was more balance, more of what Zaidi and Scott Harris expected when they put this roster together. They knew the Giants would score plenty of runs at the bottom of their order, and now they hope to see the expected production from the rest of the group, too. 

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