The San Francisco Giants have run through a ton of outfield combinations over the years. Especially since the departure of Barry Bonds, but that’s kind of ancient history by now. Can you believe he’s been retired for 13 years? Watching him hit dingers still feels like yesterday, but it’s so long ago.
*Shakes head back in forth to snap myself back into 2020 after daydreaming about Bonds home runs*
So, the 2020 Giants outfield. Once again, it’s going to look a little different than it did to start last season. Just like it looked different the year before that, the year before that, and on and on. Last year, Conner Joe and what’s his name were starters for this ball club. Since then, the Giants seem to have found some answers in the outfield and are willing to give any player in camp a shot to earn some playing time.
Click any player name on these lists to go to their Baseball Reference page.
Outfielders on the 40-man roster (Bats/Throws)
Outfielders on the non-roster invitee list (Bats/Throws)
Mike Yastrzemski stepped up the be the offensive leader of this outfield with his 2019 performance. The 29-year old grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski hit 21 home runs, drove in 55 runs, and was an offensive spark for the Giants during the final 4 months of the season. Yaz played primarily in a corner outfield spot, but he will get a look as the primary center fielder during Spring Training.
Alex Dickerson was another shot in the arm when he burst on scene with the Giants last season. After spending 8 years bouncing around the Pirates and Padres farm system, Farhan Zaidi traded for Dickerson at the beginning of June last year. When healthy, Dickerson has proven to be a good hitter who can drive the ball. He scored 28 runs in 56 games for the Giants in 2019 and seemed to have a knack for getting on base, which is proven by his .351 on base percentage.
Steven Duggar was the starting center fielder on Opening Day last season. After a rocky first couple of months, Duggar went down with a lower back strain. When it was time for him to return, there was no room in the outfield with the emergence of Yaz and Dick, so Duggar was sent back to Sacramento. In August, he got the call back to the Giants when Dick went on the shelf, and then had a shoulder injury a few days later which knocked him out for the season. It appears Duggar is going to have to fight for a job with everyone else as the former 6th round draft choice tries to live up to his promise.
Hunter Pence was the starting left fielder for the Giants in 2018. He was the 11th of 12 different players to start in LF since Bonds departed. Twelve seasons, twelve different starters. The Giants face the Dodgers on Opening Day and chances are Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound. If Pence and Dick form a lefty/righty platoon in left field this season, Pence should get the start on March 26 at Dodger Stadium against old pal Kershaw. That would make him the first player to start more than 1 season on Opening Day in left field for the Giants since Bonds departed following 2007. It’s not back-to-back years for Pence, but it’s damn close.
When Pence left the Giants after 2018, there’s no way we could have anticipated a reunion just 2 years later. Pence resurrected his career with the Texas Rangers in 2019. The 36-year old veteran hit 18 HR’s, drove in 59 runs, scored 53 runs, with a .358 OBP in just 83 games. Pence made his 4th all-star team but his season got cut short with a groin strain and then he missed the final month with a lower back strain. Here’s to hoping he’s healthy for 2020
Oh, if you’re wondering Hunter Pence will return to his iconic number 8 for this season. Alex Dickerson has shifted to number 12.
Chris Shaw, Austin Slater, and Jaylin Davis will all compete for the right field spot. Between Yaz, Dick, (maybe Mauricio Dubon too) and Pence, CF and LF are covered. Someone else will have to get hot and grab hold of the starting slot. Left-handed Joe McCarthy is another option out in right field. The 25-year old spent 4 years in the Tampa Bay system before being acquired by the Giants on July 31 of last year. McCarthy played 24 games in Sacramento in 2019 and really didn’t do much. He hit .165 with 4 extra-base hits in 79 at bats.
One other name to keep an eye on is veteran Billy Hamilton. The speedy outfielder spent his first 6 seasons with the Reds before splitting time between Kansas City and Atlanta in 2019. Hamilton is only 29 years old and has long been one of the fastest players in the game. His problem has always been getting on base. He doesn’t walk nearly enough for a top of the order bat and strikes out a ton. All that being said, imagine him running around the expansive outfield at Oracle Park chasing down fly balls. It would be a joy to watch.
Spring Training should be interesting for this position group. Many of the players listed above will shuttle back and forth between the big club and Sacramento. As we’ve talked about many times, versatility is the new keyword for the Giants. They like players who can be used as interchangeable parts. And just like with the infielders, I don’t know how all of these guys are going to find at bats this spring.
Giants baseball is back, baby! Pretty soon they’ll be a part of our everyday lives.
We’re so excited to have the Giants back, episode 189 is up for your listening pleasure. We put the 49ers season to bed and move on to the Giants and start to look ahead to all these stories heading in to camp.