When Gabe Kapler announced his first Giants coaching staff ahead of the 2020 season — one that included 13 coaches in total, three hitting coaches, three pitching coaches and the first woman ever on an MLB coaching staff — many raised their eyes. Some even openly laughed. Over a year later, with the Giants in first place in MLB despite having the same veteran core that wallowed under Bruce Bochy in 2019, who’s laughing now?
Perhaps Kapler’s greatest value has been his ability to assemble such a staff, one that has been able to get the most out of players discarded by the rest of the league, and able to rediscover the greatness in veterans who looked to be on the wrong side of their careers.
Aside from his famous name, Mike Yastrzemski was a relative nobody when he was acquired by the Giants in a trade last offseason. It only took him 60 games in orange and black to look like an MVP candidate.
Yastrzemski joined KNBR Wednesday on the heels of his game-winning grand slam Tuesday night, and heaped praise on the Giants’ coaching staff, specifically hitting coaches Donnie Ecker, Justin Viele and Dustin Lind. It turns out their secret has as much to do with their disposition as their methods.
“First of all they are incredible with what they do, and I think the reason that they get through to these guys is because they let you come to them,” Yaz told Papa & Lund. “They give you an idea and a thought, and if you want nothing to do with it, then they’re not going to force it on you. There are a lot of hitting coaches that come into new organizations and try to impose themselves really quick and pretend like they know everything. But these guys never act like they know every thing at all.”
Under Kapler and his staff, the Giants finished 8th in runs and 6th in team OPS in 2020, and 9th and 10th in those respective categories this season. No team in the National League sees more pitches per plate appearance. In Bruce Bochy’s final season in charge, the Giants finished 29th in runs and OPS and were 22nd in pitches per plate appearance.
“They feel like they’re constantly trying to solve a puzzle and no matter how good they get, baseball is so hard that we’re still trying to figure it out, and they completely embraced that. They love the challenge, they love being there, and they make it really fun to go to work everyday.”
Listen to the full interview below.