Pagan breaks Mays' record, channels his spirit


Pagan breaks Mays' record, channels his spirit


PHOENIX When Giants center fielder Angel Pagan hit his 13thtriple of the season Saturday night, breaking the San Francisco-era franchiserecord, the presence of the two men who previously held it could be felt inChase Field.

One was Steve Finley, because he was in the flesh to witnessit. Coincidentally, Finley was in the building to play in an ArizonaDiamondbacks alumni game later that night.

The other, Willie Mays, was there in spirit. But what apowerful spirit it was.

Pagan hit his triple in the first inning. He made a basketcatch of a ball hit directly over his head in the second inning.

It wasnt justreferential. Mays actually taught Pagan this spring how to catch a ball likethat.

As Pagan explained, he had a similar play early in the spring and he couldnthaul it in.

The next morning, the first person I see is Willie Mays,said Pagan, smiling at the memory. And he said, 'Hey, I gotta talk to you.'

He told Pagan the trick is to run full speed and then slowdown. That way, your head isnt moving as much and you can track the ball intoyour glove.

It was good advice from him and I applied it on that play,Pagan said. That really helped me because Im always full speed, man.

When Pagan tied the triples record a couple days ago inColorado, he was unaware of it. But he was thrilled when he heard the news frommanager Bruce Bochy, calling Mays his mentor.

He repeated some of those sentiments after taking thatrecord for his own.

Now that we won, I can celebrate, he said. Its a specialrecord. Thats my game. Every time I hit a ball in the gap, I think three.

Finley hit his 12 triples in 2006, when he was in his 40s and not the player he used to be. But he used the dimensions of AT&T Park to his advantage, and had seven triples in his first 30 games.

"But probably five of them should've been home runs," Finley said. "I got frustrated, of course, and so I started to swing harder. I might have hit more if I had stayed with my swing. Even playing as long as I did, I let the park get in my head. San Francisco is a triples ballpark."

Perhaps this should be pointed out, then: Pagan has hit six triples at home, and seven on the road. His three-bagger Saturday was the first one he's hit from the right side.

"You always wonder why he hadn't broken out yet," Finley said. "He's got a great swing, he can run, he has all the tools. If a guy like that gets enough opportunities, he gets a chance to figure it out. So good for him, and good for the Giants."

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."