The sixth in a six-part series — Hey, look at that, we’re done! — that previews the upcoming season for a team we haven’t heard much from in over three months. Here is a look at the pitching, outfielders, middle infielders, corner infielders and catchers. Who are these guys?
The Giants’ designated hitter will not be designated.
If a player like Mauricio Dubon has to be ready to play five positions, such is the team’s belief in flexibility, then they’re not going to allow one lineup spot to be allocated for one specific person.
As the National League embraces the DH for one 60-game season, the Giants are embracing the attitude they live with: options over steadiness. There will be a rotating cast of bats in the DH spot, both to get a slugger into the lineup and to give a defender’s legs a night off.
“It actually introduces some really fun options to be creative and to mix and match,” Gabe Kapler said on a Zoom on Monday. “…You might see [Alex] Dickerson taking down reps there. You can see [Buster] Posey once in a while getting a DH start. Pablo [Sandoval] is positioned nicely to take some of those reps. [Darin] Ruf. Obviously I’m not naming everybody, but you can tell looking at our roster, we’ve got plenty of options both lefty and righty to slot into that DH role.”
He’s right. While they don’t have a Joc Pederson like the Dodgers or a Yoenis Cespedes as the Mets do, they do have plenty more bats than they have positions to put them. Here’s a look at some of the front-runners for DH time:
Hunter Pence: As a righty who kills lefties, there’s a solid chance Pence is there on Opening Day against Clayton Kershaw. The 37-year-old had a 1.015 OPS against southpaws last year — but also did not play after Aug. 22 with a back injury. The Giants will want to save his bullets, as Kapler likes to say.
Alex Dickerson: Essentially a less-experienced, seven-years-younger version of Pence. Dickerson will complement the left-fielder, his bat in against righties. To save his legs, the Giants could give him some DH time and shift Mike Yastrzemski to left field.
Darin Ruf: The most intriguing entry simply because there is so much mystery. Farhan Zaidi has always liked the 33-year-old’s strikeout-to-home run ratio, yet Ruf played the last three seasons in South Korea. He returned this year and became the story of training camp 1.0. Can he pick up the momentum from four months ago and make a case that his righty bat needs to be in the lineup?
Pablo Sandoval: The Giants say he’s ready to go after late 2019 Tommy John surgery. He should be able to move around the infield, but it was impressive how unaffected his swing looked during camp 1.0.
Buster Posey: If the Giants need to find a way to get Posey’s bat in the lineup again, that would bode very well for this season after his struggles the past two years.
Joey Bart: If the Giants need to find a way to get Bart’s bat in the lineup, signaling he got a chance this season and ran with it, that would bode very well for this season.
Wilmer Flores: Another lefty masher, Flores’ bat is better than his first- or second-base glove. DH’ing him could allow Ruf to play first and Mauricio Dubon, Donovan Solano or the switch-hitting Yolmer Sanchez to play second, all difficult on lefties.
Zach Green: The undercard to Ruf’s main event at camp 1.0, the 26-year-old showed rare righty power. Injuries have held him up more than talent, and more unlikely players than Green have burst onto the scene.