Bruce Bochy has a plan to execute Giants' imperfect platoon scenarios


Bruce Bochy has a plan to execute Giants' imperfect platoon scenarios

SAN FRANCISCO — On the surface, it was a perfect fit. 

Farhan Zaidi has been open about the fact that he might try to find a platoon partner for Steven Duggar this year, so when he signed Cameron Maybin to a minor league deal a few days into spring training, it seemed like that duo was set. Duggar hits left-handed. Maybin hits right-handed. They could form a defense-first duo up the middle.

But Maybin isn’t actually all that seamless a fit if that’s what the Giants are really planning. His OPS is 42 points higher when he faces right-handed pitching, and last year he had a .252/.321/.325 slash line against lefties. Duggar has extremely small samples, but he slashed .333/.370/.476 against lefties, far outpacing his stats against righties. 

The numbers say maybe it won't work as planned, but as the Giants try to form a competent outfield, they’re going to see if Maybin can balance out Duggar and Gerardo Parra, who also hits left-handed. Manager Bruce Bochy said Maybin would see plenty of time against left-handed pitching this spring.

“I know sometimes these splits don’t match up, but sometimes when you start playing a guy a little bit more against lefties or righties, they get more comfortable,” he said. “When you’re facing lefties, you just don’t see them that much, so I’m going to try to give Maybin as many at-bats as I can off lefties here this spring. 

“Now, nothing has been said about ‘we’re platooning,’ but if a guy’s numbers aren’t that good against a pitcher righty or lefty, I try to push at-bats that way so he can get more comfortable.”

Maybin, who overhauled his swing in the offseason by making trips to see a specialist in Los Angeles, said he’s not worried about what the splits say. 

“You get in the box, you look for something you can handle, something you can do damage on,” he said. “That’s kind of been my approach. With some offseason work, I hope that I can just continue to get better against righties and lefties.”

The same holds true for Joe Panik, who like Duggar is a returning starter who has found his name connected to a potential platoon. 

For most of his career, Panik has fared pretty well against same-side pitching, but his numbers dropped off a cliff in 2018. In 120 plate appearances against lefties, Panik hit .191 with a .489 OPS. Yangervis Solarte is a more balanced switch-hitter than Alen Hanson, but his OPS is about 50 points higher against righties than against lefties. 

At the moment, the Giants have some imperfect solutions as they look to platoon more. They’ll spend the spring getting veterans extra work against certain pitchers, and perhaps a young player like Drew Ferguson — a right-handed hitter — will break into the mix. 

[RELATED: Bochy ready to embrace platoons]

Then again, there’s always the solution that Duggar, Panik, and others in similar spots would prefer: Hitting well enough that you play against both sides. Both have shown they have the skills to do it. 

“I have to be the player I know how to be,” Panik said. “But at the same time, as a teammate, you have to be open to whatever they say. They’re going to know that I don’t hit so-and-so well, and you have to be unselfish. You have to grow up and mature and understand it is about one goal. I know that if I’m doing what I’m capable of doing, I can hit anybody. But again, it’s going to be about winning.”

Madison Bumgarner's road struggles for Giants continue ahead of free agency

Madison Bumgarner's road struggles for Giants continue ahead of free agency

The three-game series at Fenway Park was filled with so much history. 

Between a Yastrzemski reunion and Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy's 2,000th career managerial win, there was much to be celebrated. That was until Thursday when Madison Bumgarner took the mound.

Across five frames in the Boston Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Giants, MadBum gave up five runs and nine hits with two walks. He struck out seven, but struggled in the second inning as he approached his 200 innings on the season mark. 

The balls that were hit off of Bumgarner's ninth loss of the season weren't hit hard either. It was a system of putting the bat on the ball with singles at the helm of Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts to name a few.

"This has probably been his worst year as far as luck," Bochy told reporters after the game. "I thought he threw better than what the numbers are going to show."

The bloopers Bochy addressed, made an impact, however, and a pattern developed this year on the road, and it wasn't a pretty one.

Away from Oracle Park this season, the four-time All-Star has a career-high 5.06 ERA with batters hitting with a .280 average off of him. 

Call it tough luck, but as much as this sounds like a broken record, Bumgarner will be one of the top names in the free agency pool come the offseason and it's no secret home/road splits are taken into account. 

[RELATED: Bochy's speech after 2,000th career win]

Bum talked about his outing and despite it not panning out the way he had hoped, some of the hits off of him he couldn't explain. 

"Things don't always go your way," he said. "It's frustrating, you know. I feel really good about the way I threw."

How Giants' top five picks from 2019 MLB Draft played in first season

How Giants' top five picks from 2019 MLB Draft played in first season

The Giants continued a trend this year in the 2019 MLB Draft. For the fifth straight year, San Francisco picked a hitter over a pitcher with their top draft pick. 

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi had a clear plan this year: Find some big bats. A pitcher's name wasn't called by the Giants all the way until the eighth round this year. 

With offense on the Giants' mind, here's how the team's top five picks performed in their first crack of the minor leagues this year. 

Hunter Bishop, OF, No. 10 overall 

Bishop put up huge numbers as a junior at Arizona State, batting .342 with 22 home runs. The 6-foot-5 center fielder joined the Giants' Arizona Rookie League team over a month after his college season ended and showed a bit of rust but still hit .250 with one homer and three doubles.

He hit .250 with one homer in seven games playing in the AZL before he was promoted to Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer. Bishop spent 25 games with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and hit just .224 with three homers and nine RBI. While those aren't huge numbers, they don't tell the whole story. 

Bishop showed he could swing and miss plenty of times while swinging for the fences at ASU, but he also has a great eye at the plate. Bishop ended his first season in the minors with a .438 on-base percentage and had just one more strikeout (39) than walk (38) this year. 

[RELATED: Four Giants on MLB Pipeline's final Top 100 prospects list]

The Giants' top pick is a former high school football star and great athlete. The speed-power combination is there, and he clearly has a solid approach at the plate. 

Logan Wyatt, 1B, No. 51 overall 

After a long junior at the University of Louisville, Wyatt also only spent seven games in the AZL before joining Salem-Keizer.

Wyatt had an impressive enough showing with the Volcanoes that he spent his final 19 games in Class A Augusta. Before his promotion, though, he .284 with two homers and 10 walks to just nine strikeouts for Salem-Keizer. In Augusta, Wyatt's batting average dropped to .233, but he had a .368 on-base percentage. 

Though Wyatt doesn't have big power numbers there, many believe he could have the ability to one day be a 20-homer hitter. What he always has had, however, is a keen eye. The big left-hander ranked third in NCAA Division-I was both years he was a starter. 

Zaidi loves players that value the ability to get on base, and Wyatt fits the mold.

Grant McCray, OF, No. 87

McCray was a three-sport athlete in high school and committed to play baseball at Florida State before the Giants drafted him in the third round. Right away, his speed jumps off the page. 

The 18-year-old stole 17 bases in the AZL, but also was caught stealing 13 times. That number can come down with coaching and more reps down the road. 

McCray already is 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds with plenty of room to grow. He hit .270 with one homer, two triples, dive doubles and a .714 OPS in the Rookie League. 

Tyler Fitzgerald, SS, No. 116 overall

The Giants went with two Louisville Cardinals in their first four picks. Fitzgerald was their fourth-round pick and fits the mold of a classic college shortstop. 

While he doesn't have one tool that jumps off the page, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound shortstop is solid across the board. He showed more pop his junior year, though, hitting seven homers and raised his slugging percentage 145 points. 

Fitzgerald had a short stint in the AZL and spent the majority of his season between Salem-Keizer and Augusta. Between three levels, he hit .276 with one homer, two triples, 15 doubles and a .753 OPS. 

Garrett Frechette, 1B, No. 146 overall 

Frechette is a really intriguing prospect. The high school draft pick out of Southern California was sidelined during his senior year with mononucleosis, but reportedly launched balls into the water at Oracle Park during a pre-draft workout. 

He's a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-hander with raw power. But he hasn't hit a homer in the minors yet. Frechette spent 39 games in the AZL and hit .290 while knocking seven doubles and two triples. 

Before the illness and a hamate bone injury, Frechette was considered a top 10 high school player in California. He has a ways to go, but the talent is there.