When I set out to preview the San Francisco Giants positions ahead of their April 8 opener against the Miami Marlins, I originally intended on previewing every position individually. You know, previewing left field, right field, and center field as three separate entities.
But that proved an impossible task.
Baseball is shifting away from set positions, and the Giants are at the forefront of that shift.
As such, they don’t have a left fielder, don’t have a right fielder, and don’t have a center fielder. Not just because they have numerous people who can play those positions, but because they have people who can play two or three of them, creating a dance routine that even the most accomplished TikTokers would struggle to learn.
To illustrate this point we need only go back to 2021, when Steven Duggar — widely viewed as the best defensive outfielder on the team by a country mile — somehow spent 15.2 innings playing outfield spots that weren’t center field.
Here’s who I feel almost certain will play in the outfield this year:
LaMonte Wade Jr.
Here’s two more people that I feel are very, very, very likely to play in the outfield this year:
Here are three more dudes who could play in the outfield and I wouldn’t think anything of it:
Oh, and I got so busy listing all those players that I forgot these two guys who will definitely play:
Random waiver claim who is then already on the 40-man roster so why not
Random Minor League signing who performs really well in AAA
Not to mention this guy who is making a strong case already:
Random prospect you’re not really thinking of who makes a quick ascension and intrigues us all when multiple players are injured
So that’s 17 different outfielders, and if you think that’s wild, just know that the Giants used 13 outfielders last year, and that was without having a designated hitter position to put people like Darin Ruf and Kris Bryant to keep them from playing in the grass.
The Giants have been lauded over the last year for their remarkable depth, and while it’s certainly worthy of praise, it’s worth noting that depth can only take you as far as the talent it’s comprised of. San Francisco’s outfield was good last year because Ruf was one of the best hitters in baseball, LaMonte Wade Jr. was the single most clutch hitter in the Majors, and Steven Duggar did things that no one could have possibly predicted.
They need those things again. Not necessarily those specific things, though that would be nice, but things of that nature. It could be Luis Gonzalez becoming the next Mike Yastrzemski. It could be Yastrzemski becoming the next Yastrzemski. It could be Ramos’ coming out party, Pederson turning back the clock, Dubón taking flight, or a trade for Aaron Judge when the New York Yankees hilariously fall apart and again get beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The fun part of the Giants roster construction is on full display with the outfield. You know who some of the main players will be, but not all of them. You know there’s a surprise lurking in the shadows. You feel fairly confident that the output will be admirable, but your eyes are moving in 10 directions looking to see where it will come from.
Really it sums up the Giants perfectly. They’ll be good. You’re just not really sure how.