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Why Heliot Ramos might be just the kick in the pants the dreadful Giants’ lineup needs

San Francisco Giants v Miami Marlins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants have had the worst lineup in Major League Baseball for the last 41 days with no signs of that rank improving.

Now, you might be wondering how the smartest front office in the history of professional sports allowed this to happen and you might be mad enough to call them names or simply label them gun shy because of their relative inaction at the trade deadline, and I’m here (and here) to tell you that it’s okay to be mad at them until the results change.

But... somehow... perhaps improbably so... there is a plan... and it just might work.

If the headline got you to click, then you know I’m about to discuss Heliot Ramos, who was called up last night. 9 games of major league futility and a 60-day stint on the IL for an oblique injury might’ve been enough to sink most seasons, but the (still just!) 23-year old Ramos has persevered and in 45 games (181 PA) with the River Cats, he hit .303/.359/.543, including 8 home runs, 3 triples, and 9 doubles — 20 of his 49 hits were extra base hits. And that’s just his total season line.

As former McCovey Chronicles minor league guru Roger Munter reports over on his Substack (subscription required):

He’s hit .333/.384/.684 with eight jacks since his return from the 60-day IL, and for the full season, Ramos has posted a 110 RC+, which is his best at any level since his 25-game cameo in Double A at the tail end of the 2019 season.

That means all of his home runs have happened since the injury. Now, you might be asking,

What does this impressive run by a former top prospect of the Giants have to do with anything? Minor leaguers do well in the minors and then absolutely nothing in the majors all the time. It’s happened multiple times for the Giants already this season! ... Idiot.

And I agree: there’s not really any reason for you to expect that Ramos’s Triple-A line will translate in any way to the majors; but, I will counter with there’s a reason to hope he can help, and his specific contribution might actually be the thing that kickstarts the lineup.

You see, as much as the Giants have been completely awful as a team, hitting-wise, since July 1st, the larger truth is that they haven’t been the same since Mitch Haniger went down.




Now, you might be asking,

What? How could that be? Mitch Haniger is the worst baseball player of all-time and I hate you for reminding me he exists. ... Idiot.

And I agree: Mitch Haniger’s injury-sunk season was the most likely outcome from the moment the Giants signed him. We knew this. The much smarter front office knew this. What we and they probably didn’t understand is that he was sort of the straw that stirred the drink — or rather, what he represented was/is.

Besides Wilmer Flores and J.D. Davis, can you name another right-handed power hitter on the Giants? Theoretically, it’s Austin Slater and/or Luis Matos. Practically, Slater’s power really only comes against left-handed pitching and Matos is still a rookie. Haniger was/is a right-handed batter without a stark platoon split for his career (.460 slug versus RHP, .494 vs. LHP)

Mitch Haniger didn’t make his season debut until April 24th. Prior to that, the Giants had scored 95 runs in 21 games, or 4.52 runs per game. From April 24th to June 13th (when he sustained a broken forearm), the Giants scored 222 runs in 46 games, or 4.83 per game. Since he hit the IL again, the Giants have scored 192 runs in 48 games, or exactly 4 runs per game, on average. Take all the non-Haniger games and you get and average of 4.16 runs.

His season line of .230/.281/.372 is not the point, it’s the skill set he represents. A guy teams simply had to respect because at any moment he could unleash thunder. Flores has demonstrated that he has fantastic pitch definition and coverage, but he’s also been on the hottest streak of his career. He’s not supposed to be a guy who can consistently thrash mistakes. J.D. Davis has improved a lot as a Giant, but even he’s a guy with a lot of swing and miss. Haniger was that one extra bat the opponents couldn’t really pitch around.

Now, Heliot Ramos has the same general skill set as Haniger. A plausible right-handed power threat who might have enough plate discipline to take a walk if he’s pitched around but can also punish mistakes. The Giants tried to square a circle by adding A.J. Pollock at the deadline, thinking a veteran with the faintest echoes of Haniger’s skills might be enough to supplement the struggling lineup. Don’t believe me?


Mitch Haniger: .259/.332/.469 (9.4% XBH rate, 8.7% BB rate, 24% K rate)
A.J. Pollock: .273/.328/.464 (9.7% XBH rate, 7% BB rate, 17.7% K rate)

That’s not the same player, but that’s a similar player. Here’s Heliot Ramos after 2,300 career minor league plate appearances:

.264/.335/.439 (8.8% XBH rate, 8% BB rate, 26% K rate)

That’s not the same player, but that’s in the same general range. Now, it’s rare that minor leaguers translate those minor league numbers into similar or better major league numbers, but Ramos’s player profile fits exactly what the Giants sorely need.

That creeping dread you’re feeling is that the team might not find that guy until it’s too late. Even if Haniger comes back in September, this ridiculously difficult stretch of games might throw them too far out of contention, or maybe Haniger won’t be anywhere close to effective to really make much of a difference in the final ~20 games.

But the Giants made a choice to stick with what they have in hopes that somebody from their group of players can give them what they need when they need it. Here’s hoping.