SCOTTSDALE — Being Farhan Zaidi’s and Gabe Kapler’s San Francisco Giants, the lineup will be a living thing. Hard-throwing righties will see a radically different lineup than soft-tossing lefties. There will be platoons aplenty, with just a few everyday options.
Two of those rarities will be at the top of the lineup. Tommy La Stella a lefty who sees righties better but still works southpaws well, should see significant time at second and third and even first on days Brandon Belt sits. He could bounce Mike Yastrzemski from the leadoff spot, where he normally resided during his breakout 2020. Yastrzemski, who also hits all kinds of pitchers, will be plugged into right regularly but also is trying to prove he can handle center field.
“We see them both hitting in the top three spots in the lineup on most days,” Gabe Kapler said Monday, on the first day of full-squad workouts at Scottsdale Stadium. “… Really like the idea of having Tommy spend time in the leadoff hole and having Yaz hit either directly behind him or potentially in the three [spot] as well.”
Against righty pitchers, perhaps Alex Dickerson or Belt would slide in between them as the club stacks lefty hitters. Against lefties, Wilmer Flores or Donovan Solano could occupy that slot.
It’s a pretty nice top three, led off by La Stella, who works pitchers like few others. No one had a better walk-strikeout percentage in baseball last year (27:12), and he upped his pitches per plate appearance to 4.12, which had been 3.75 the year before.
The Giants love plate discipline and the ability to work down pitchers, and Kapler mentioned another with impressive numbers — though not yet at the major league level.
“[La Stella at the top] lengthens our lineup quite a bit,” the manager said over Zoom. “I think it’s also worth noting that LaMonte Wade has a chance to lengthen our lineup and allow us to grind pitchers down a bit.”
The lefty-hitting Wade was picked up from the Twins as the Giants sought another outfielder. He hasn’t seen a ton of big-league time, but he’s drawn more walks (303) than been punched out (281) in the minors.
The more pitches the hitters see, the better chance a mistake slips through. Yastrzemski said he was excited about the prospect of hitting behind La Stella.
“I want to learn from him,” Yastrzemski said. “He does a great job of controlling his at-bat and making sure that he gets what he wants out of it. And to have a guy like that, where the opposing pitchers don’t want to face them, they don’t want to throw 10 pitches, 12 pitches to one guy, and to put that frustration on the mound is really good because hopefully at some point they’re going to make a mistake and we’re going to take advantage of it.”