Batting second, a spot in the lineup Gabe Kapler acknowledged “is a really important one,” is a hitter who enters play hitting .195 in 88 plate appearances.
Alex Dickerson has struggled, but so did Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, whose peripheral numbers encouraged the Giants, who looked smart when Brandon squared turned their seasons around.
Dickerson, who went 0-for-4 Friday in the Giants’ third straight loss, is a fixture against right-handed pitching, against whom the club has struggled far more than against lefties. Part of that is they haven’t found a third lefty-hitting outfielder to pair with Mike Yastrzemski and Dickerson, and part of that is Dickerson has not gotten going.
When he slammed his third homer of the season Sunday, his response was less joyous and more relief — he felt he was due, so many smashed balls finding gloves.
“There’s been some misfortune for Dick. He’s hit some balls hard, some on the ground, some line drives that haven’t found grass,” Gabe Kapler said before San Francisco played its second of a three-game set in Arizona. “I don’t want to chalk it all up to chance because I also think that some of the pitches at the top of the zone, he’s been just missing.”
The numbers back up the manager’s belief in his struggling left fielder. Dickerson’s 91.2 mph average exit velocity is the best of his career and 40th best overall in baseball, second on the Giants only to Belt’s 91.9. He’s walking more and striking out less than he did last year, when he was a one-man offense for weeks and carried the Giants into contention before the trade deadline. He will need to hit more balls in the air — his 41.9 percent ground ball rate is up from last year’s 35.3 percent.
The advanced stats indicate Dickerson will have better luck, and a Giants team trying to show it is a contender will need that to be true.
“He’s a real dangerous weapon in the second spot in the lineup. I think we’re really early in the process here, we saw with Brandon Belt that all it took was a week or 10 days of success, and his numbers are tremendous thus far this season,” Kapler said. “We feel similarly that Dickerson has the ability to get hot and change the numbers.”
The Giants’ bullpen has come around.
It took about a month, but a unit that had been the worst in baseball revived itself, roles tweaked, a couple personnel flipped and what appears to be a breakout reliever in Sam Selman. Over its past 10 games, the Giants’ bullpen has allowed four earned runs and posted a 1.46 ERA.
Kapler pointed at the inexperience in the group, which features a few former minor league starters (Selman, Caleb Baragar, the optioned Rico Garcia), quality arms who have needed time to figure out routines.
“I really do believe that this is an exploration process with our bullpen,” Kapler said. “We’re really still in the phase of learning about these guys, but as the sample sizes grow, we get a better understanding of what we have.”