As the San Francisco Giants get started on a new season, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Wednesday, we finish up our 2020 season reviews with the final name: left-handed outfielder Mike Yastrzemski.
54 games, 225 plate appearances, .297/.400/.568, .968 OPS, 10 home runs, 35 RBI, 30 walks to 55 strikeouts
165 OPS+, 159 wRC+, 2.7 rWAR, 2.6 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Yastrzemski was on the active roster all season, though he missed a few games after tweaking his calf.
It’s fitting that, in an alphabetical list of the 45 players who suited up for the Giants in 2020, Yastrzemski is 45th. We get to end with the team’s MVP. Right as we start a new season.
Yaz might be the hardest player to review, because what can you say? In 2019, he made his MLB debut as a late-20s Minor League journeyman. And in 2020, he was in the MVP discussion late into the season, would have made the All-Star team if there had been one, and was voted All-MLB.
Had I told you in March — when you were anticipating a 162 game season — that Yaz would have a 2.7 rWAR season, you likely would have been thrilled (preseason ZiPS, for instance, projected him for 2.1 WAR). That’s a great year for someone who was only ever supposed to be a AAAA player.
Instead he went out and got that in barely a third of a full season.
He was everything good about the Giants season. He exceeded expectations, but in a way that didn’t feel fluky or even unsustainable. He brought joy to the field. He won the Willie Mac Award. He had a flair for the dramatic.
Quite simply, he was a player you took joy in watching every single game. He failed to reach base in just seven of his 54 games. If the Giants could field a team of Yastrzemskis, they’d be the best team in baseball. Ultimately, isn’t that all you can ask for?
That’s all I have to say. The season had barely ended when I found myself pining for a new season so I could watch Mike Yastrzemski.
And now we get to.
But first ... let’s run some old tape one last time.
Role in 2021
The Giants have made diversity and variety the name of their game. They’re going to tinker with lineups every day to find any advantage they can get. And through it all, Yastrzemski is one of the few players who you can pencil in to play every game.
Buster Posey is the face of the franchise. Brandon Belt is the most mesmerizing bat. But until anyone takes the crown from him, Mike Yastrzemski is the team’s best player.
Yaz finished fifth in the National League in fWAR, behind only Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Trea Turner. There can only be one proper grade.
How would you grade Mike Yastrzemski’s season?
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