Earlier in the week, San Francisco Giants beat reporter Andrew Baggarly playfully tweeted a Sporcle quiz naming all of the record-setting 64 Giants who played for the team in 2019.
He joked (I think, but I hope not) about making president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi take the test.
I am going to force Farhan Zaidi to take this test and I will report back with his score. (I surprised myself and got 56!) https://t.co/xhby8RFmdE— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 25, 2020
The joke being that Zaidi, who is paid handsomely to toil endlessly at constructing the team’s lineup, probably can’t name all of the people he put on the field last year.
That Baggarly, who spent two-thirds of his precious days last year with the club, could only name 56 of the 64.
That I, who is paid to watch Giants games and has a weird fetish for reading over box scores, thus further imprinting names into my head, could only name 51.
There were a lot of Giants last year, and a huge number of them took a few reps in the green, green grass. According to Baseball-Reference, 17 different Giants occupied the three outfield positions.
There were the usual suspects, like Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski, who both logged 100+ games in the greenery. There were the forgotten players, like Yangervis Solarte and Michael Reed, and the Mike Gerbers, like Mike Gerber. There was a right-side infielder (Brandon Belt), a left-side infielder (Abiatal Avelino), a catcher (Stephen Vogt), and a Connor Joe (Connor Joe).
Versatility and flexibility is the name of the game in Zaidi’s baseball world, and with Gabe Kapler replacing Bruce Bochy, you can expect that to be even more strongly reflected this season.
So as the team wraps up their first week of spring training games, and hits the one-month-from-real-games mark, I find that the biggest question I’m asking isn’t whether Johnny Cueto and Brandon Crawford will bounce back, or how Kapler will do, or who will be the closer, or if Kevin Gausman will be traded. It’s this: How many different players will play in the outfield?
The team has a million options, from incumbents (Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater), to prospects we saw glimpses of last year (Jaylin Davis, Chris Shaw), to free agents (Hunter Pence), to more infielders being converted (Mauricio Dubon), to prospects in the pipeline (Heliot Ramos), to other categories being generated as I type.
Zaidi will experiment with bringing in and bringing up different outfielders, playing non-outfielders as outfielders, and every other iteration of the term “outfield” that he can think of.
There will be a lot of outfielders. So many outfielders. Perhaps even more than in 2017.
And I can’t stop thinking about just how many there might be.