It reared its ugly head last year, and then in spring training and again last night. The Giants’ defense has been a problem in the short Gabe Kapler-era, and it will be a consistent issue in 2021 according to former Giants pitcher Shawn Estes.
“I think that’s going to be something that’s going to haunt them all year,” Estes said on Papa & Lund Tuesday morning. “I really do, because when you have two different lineups when you have a righty or a lefty playing, you’re going to have to sacrifice some defense along the way. You’re going to have guys not necessarily out of position, but just in positions that they don’t play a whole lot of, and you’re going to have communication issues.
“We saw a little bit last night between (Mauricio) Dubon and (Austin) Slater in right centerfield where I thought a ball should’ve been caught by Slater based on the route he took to the ball, and then the communication between him and Dubon there, and it turned at worst a single into a triple, and leading to the tying run. I think you’re going to see too much of that this year.”
The sixth inning in last night’s 3-2 victory over the Padres was almost entirely the defense’s undoing. The Giants looked like they looked so often in Scottsdale: sloppy. Even the outs were unsure, relief pitcher Matt Wisler nearly throwing a dribbler into right field but for Wilmer Flores to make a balletic play to catch it and stay on the bag. The next mistakes were costly, though.
Jurickson Profar lofted one into right-center that had an expected batting average of .110. Dubon had a late jump, and then all-out dived for a ball that bounced and skittered behind him. Slater was right beside Dubon, going for the catch, and thus had to turn around and chase what turned into a triple. Dubon made a circus catch for the next out, but it went for a game-tying sacrifice anyway. For good measure, Brandon Crawford then bobbled a grounder, but Caleb Baragar ensured the damage was done.
The Giants were near the top of the Cactus League in errors, and had the sixth most in MLB (42) last season, much of it a product of prioritizing platoons for favorable hitting matchups.
“If they can out slug teams and you can strike guys out, then a lot of that defense is forgotten,” Estes continued. “We’ll have to see how that goes.”
Listen to the full interview below.