Many moons ago, I wrote about the madhouse that was the early season churn, when the San Francisco Giants had #ForeverGiants like… um… Yangervis Solarte, and… Pat Venditte, and… Aaron Altherr? Wait, when the heck was he on the team?
Anyway, after 42 games, the Giants averaged almost one new player per game. Now, we’re 125 games into the season, and while the Giants haven’t maintained the mad pace of their roster churn, they’ve still managed to cycle through 53 different, completely unique players. Players like… Nick Vincent, and… Joey Rickard (he hit a home run!), and… Williams Jerez (he tripled... in Triple-A!)?
Okay, so there’s a reason why so many players have shown up on the roster this season: Many of them have been bad, or forgettable, or had player options — or all three. Still, that’s one new player for every 2.35849 games, and we haven’t even made it to September callups yet!
On the one hand, the revolutionary in me appreciates Zaidi’s one-man mission to siphon the wealth of the bourgeoisie into the hands of the working class, but that still leaves the question: Are the Giants better today than they were at the beginning of the season?
The answer is an emphatic yes.
Let’s take a look at the outfield, which has been the bane of the Giants’ existence ever since the appearance in 2017 of the black hole that we affectionately call “left field.” This is the outfielder corps the team rolled out on opening day:
Steven Duggar, Connor Joe, Gerardo Parra, Michael Reed
And here’s what we had yesterday:
Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Kevin Pillar, Austin Slater
Small sample size notwithstanding, that first group was worth a collective rWAR of -0.2. Duggar’s value wasn’t helped by Bruce Bochy’s weird insistence that Pillar couldn’t play right field, and Joe and Reed never really had a chance to shine, but them’s the breaks.
The second group? Well, what would ya say to a cool… 5.3 rWAR?
Whether you’re a nerd or a traditionalist, this rag-tag group of cast-offs has shown up to play. Pillar still doesn’t know how to get on base, but he knows how to hit it over the fence. Slater is still hitting a ton of groundballs, but his new swing has done him wonders. Dickerson might be broken forever, leading one to wonder if the Giants should have listened to a certain blogger, but there’s no denying the dude was downright Bondsian when he was healthy.
But the most impressive of them all might be Yastrzemski, who accounts for 2 rWAR by himself. Extrapolate his numbers for a whole season, and we might not be talking about Will Smith as the only Giants representative at the All-Star game.
The same logic works across the entire roster: Donovan Solano has been better than Solarte, Stephen Vogt has been better than Erik Kratz, Sam Coonrod and Jandel Gustave have been better than Ty Blach and Nick Vincent. And while the jury’s still out on the likes of Shaun Anderson, Logan Webb, and Connor Menez, at least they’re more interesting to watch and evaluate than Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz.
Back in May, I predicted the roster churn would hit the 60-player plateau. We have 37 games and seven players left to go to reach that number. I expect players like Melvin Adon, Jaylin Davis, and Mauricio Dubon to show up at some point, and some waiver pickups will no doubt make a perfunctory appearance. It’ll be close, but I think they can do it — and if and when the playoff chase fizzles out, the #RaceTo60 will be all that keeps us going as the end of season comes closer.