You don’t need me to tell you the stat. You know the stat. You’ve heard the stat. You hear the stat every year, and this year is no exception. Next year will, almost surely, also not be the exception.
Since Barry Bonds’ final season in 2007, the Giants have had a different left fielder on Opening Day in every single year.
Technically that could change this year. With the team’s intended everyday left fielder, Mitch Haniger, beginning the year on the Injured List, and a right-hander in Gerrit Cole on the mound, Joc Pederson could repeat his placement from last year. But all signs point to Blake Sabol being the man in left on Thursday morning at Yankee Stadium, which would give the Giants a stunning 17 Opening Day left fielders in 17 years.
2007 to 2023. 17 left fielders. For perspective, to get 17 different left fielders moving backwards from 2007, you have to go all the way back to 1963, for the first All-Star year in the illustrious career of Willie McCovey, back when he was still an outfielder.
So let’s look at all 17, from Barry Bonds to (probably) Blake Sabol.
2007 — Barry Bonds
Opening Day: 1-3, 1 walk in a 7-0 loss to the Padres
Rest of the season: 126 games, .276/.480/.565, 169 OPS+, 28 home runs, 3.4 WAR, All-Star
Future with the Giants: That was it, sadly. Despite being one of the best hitters in the Majors in his age-42 season, it was Bonds’ 14th and final Opening Day start with the Giants. If they’d kept him he would’ve looked a lot better than the players they did use at left in future seasons.
2008 — Dave Roberts
Opening Day: 1-3 in a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers
Rest of the season: 52 games, .224/.341/.280, 65 OPS+, 0 home runs, -0.2 WAR
Future with the Giants: Like Bonds, that was not only Roberts’ final season with San Francisco, but the final season of his career. Now he manages the Dodgers, so .... /sticks tongue out.
2009 — Fred Lewis
Opening Day: 1-4, 1 walk in a 10-6 win over the Brewers
Rest of the season: 122 games, .258/.348/.390, 94 OPS+, 4 home runs, 1.3 WAR
Future with the Giants: As is the case with so many names on this list, this was Lewis’ final year with the Giants after being a second-round pick in 2002 and coming up through the organization. His career would last three more years, with three more teams.
2010 — Mark DeRosa
Opening Day: 1-3, 1 home run, 1 walk, 1 RBI in a 5-2 win over the Astros
Rest of the season: 26 games, .194/.279/.258, 48 OPS+, 1 home run, -0.7 WAR, 1 ring
Future with the Giants: DeRosa spent one more season on the Giants, finishing up a two-year free agent deal that was defined by injuries. His Opening Day home run was his only dinger during his Giants tenure.
2011 — Pat Burrell
Opening Day: 1-4, 1 home run, 1 RBI in a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers
Rest of the season: 92 games, .230/.352/.404, 115 OPS+, 7 home runs, 1.0 WAR
Future with the Giants: Like Bonds, Burrell had a good offensive season but never played a baseball game again, for the Giants or for any MLB team.
2012 — Aubrey Huff
Opening Day: 1-4 in a 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks
Rest of the season: 52 games, .192/.326/.282, 77 OPS+, 1 home run, 0.2 WAR, 1 ring
Future with the Giants: Banned from attending the reunion for being a jackass. Also, never played baseball again.
2013 — Andres Torres
Opening Day: 0-3 in a 4-0 loss to the Dodgers
Rest of the season: 105 games, .250/.302/.342, 84 OPS+, 2 home runs, -0.3 WAR
Future with the Giants: Would you believe me if I told you that Torres would not play for the Giants or any other team after this season?
2014 — Michael Morse
Opening Day: 1-3, 1 walk in a 9-8 win over the Diamondbacks
Rest of the season: 131 games, .279/.336/.475, 130 OPS+, 16 home runs, 0.9 WAR, 1 ring
Future with the Giants: Morse would leave San Francisco after his lone season, but he would return in 2017. He played 40 games that year before suffering a concussion during the brawl that ensued after Hunter Strickland attempted to damage Bryce Harper for no reason. And that was sadly the end of his career.
2015 — Nori Aoki
Opening Day: 2-5 in a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks
Rest of the season: 93 games, .287/.353/.380, 103 OPS+, 5 home runs, 1.0 WAR
Future with the Giants: This was Aoki’s first and last season in San Francisco. He would play for two more years, capping off a six-year career in which he played for seven different teams.
2016 — Angel Pagán
Opening Day: 1-4, 1 double, 1 walk in a 12-3 win over the Brewers
Rest of the season: 129 games, .277/.331/.418, 102 OPS+, 12 home runs, 1.8 WAR
Future with the Giants: This was right about when people first started talking about the Giants bizarre left field streak, and Pagán kept there from being a chance of ending it because he never played an MLB game again.
2017 — Jarrett Parker
Opening Day: 0-2 in a 6-5 loss to the Diamondbacks
Rest of the season: 51 games, .247/.294/.416, 85 OPS+, 4 home runs, 0.5 WAR
Future with the Giants: Parker’s third year with the Giants — who drafted him in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft — was his last, as he proved incapable of sticking on the MLB roster. He played five games for the Angels in 2019, but hasn’t played professionally at any level since.
2018 — Hunter Pence
Opening Day: 2-4, 1 double in a 1-0 win over the Dodgers
Rest of the season: 97 games, .226/.258/.332, 64 OPS+, 4 home runs, -1.0 WAR
Future with the Giants: This was the last of seven straight seasons with the Giants for Pence. It looked like his career might be over, but he revitalized it the next year with an All-Star campaign for the Rangers. That earned him a return contract with the Giants, but he struggled in the pandemic season, was designated for assignment, and promptly retired.
2019 — Connor Joe
Opening Day: 0-1, 1 walk in a 2-0 loss to the Padres
Rest of the season: 8 games, .067/.125/.067, -46 OPS+, 0 home runs, -0.1 WAR
Future with the Giants: Joe was a Rule 5 pick (like Sabol!) who barely made it through the first week of the season (hopefully not like Sabol!). Now he’s a quality player for the Rockies.
2020 — Alex Dickerson
Opening Day: 2-4 in an 8-1 loss to the Dodgers
Rest of the (shortened) season: 52 games, .298/.371/.576, 156 OPS+, 10 home runs, 0.8 WAR
Future with the Giants: Dickerson’s magical breakout year during the pandemic-shortened season was short lived. He fell back to earth in 2021, which was his final year with the Giants.
2021 — Austin Slater
Opening Day: 1-3, 1 home run, 1 walk, 1 RBI in an 8-7 loss to the Mariners
Rest of the season: 129 games, .241/.320/.423, 101 OPS+, 12 home runs, 1.4 WAR
Future with the Giants: Slater is starting the season on the Injured List, but, when healthy, he figures to start in center field every time the Giants face a lefty.
2022 — Joc Pederson
Opening Day: 0-1, 1 walk in a 6-5 win over the Marlins
Rest of the season: 134 games, .274/.353/.521, 144 OPS+, 23 home runs, 1.3 WAR, All-Star
Future with the Giants: San Francisco gave Pederson the qualifying offer, so he returns this year, with their hope to keep him out of left field. A noble quest.
2023 — Blake Sabol, maybe?
Opening Day: If history is any indicator, he probably goes 1-for-something.
Rest of the season: If history is any indicator, he probably doesn’t have a good season, but he does have a 12.5% chance of being an All-Star this year, and an 18.8% chance of winning a championship.
Future with the Giants: If history is any indicator, he probably doesn’t play professional baseball again after this year.
Sorry, Blake. I don’t make the rules.