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The outfield churn is still impressive

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Eleven outfielders and counting.

San Francisco Giants v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

You remember 2019. We all remember 2019.

You remember that on Opening Day the San Francisco Giants started Connor Joe in left field and Michael Reed in right field.

You remember that the duo combined for one hit — not in the game, but in their entire Giants tenures — before being designated for assignment.

You remember that the Giants used 64 players over the course of the season, setting a National League record.

That was a time, wasn’t it?

We knew that the Giants wouldn’t repeat that feat in 2020, because there would only be 60 games, and a limited player pool of available bodies at the Alternate Training Site. And yet the churn that has defined Farhan Zaidi’s tenure with the team is still on large display.

The Giants — who have played a mere 43 games this year — have already used 44 players. It’s worth noting that active rosters allow for more players in this demon season than in 2019, but still. That’s a lot of players.

And the outfield is where the churn has taken place the most. A year after the Giants used 17 different bodies in the outfield, they’ve already used 11 this season, in roughly a quarter as many games.

That’s even more impressive when you consider that two of the 2019 outfielders — Brandon Belt and Stephen Vogt — were merely masquerading as outfielders so that an offensively repugnant team could keep as many competent bats in the lineup as possible.

The Giants played 15 outfielders last year that they were actually interested in as outfielders rather than National League designated hitters (before the National League adopted...you know ... designated hitters). They’ve played 11 this year.

Number 11 occurred during Tuesday night’s win over the Seattle Mariners, when Luis Basabe put on a glove and headed to left field.

Basabe’s inclusion in the group was emblematic of Zaidi’s churn. The right-handed prospect started the year with the Chicago White Sox, but the Giants acquired him for cash. He didn’t seem MLB-ready yet, but the Giants brought him up for some defensive depth.

And here we are.

The churn hasn’t included as many Reeds and Gerbers as a year ago, but it has featured Joe McCarthy (DFA’d), Hunter Pence (DFA’d), Jaylin Davis (Opening Day roster, quickly optioned, not heard from since), Steven Duggar (doing the taxi squad tango), and Joey Rickard (a season-inding IL stint might have saved him from being DFA’d).

And only six of the 11 played in the Giants outfield a year ago.

The churn will diminish year by year, as the team gets better and doesn’t need to search for answers. But for now the churn churns on, simultaneously frustrating and exciting fans, as the Giants search for another Mike Yastrzemski.

We might see Daniel Robertson in the grass before the year is over. Perhaps we’ll see Chris Shaw. We almost surely won’t see Heliot Ramos but you just never know, do you.

The churn lives on.