Giants

Four Giants have chance to hit 20 home runs for first time in years

Four Giants have chance to hit 20 home runs for first time in years

SAN FRANCISCO -- The NL's 40 Home Run Club got crowded last week, with Cody Bellinger hitting the mark first, followed by Christian Yelich and Pete Alonso, who broke the NL record for a rookie. That mark was just two years old and was set by Bellinger. 

Ronald Acuña Jr. (35) and Eugenio Suarez (34) should get to 40 soon, and six other NL sluggers are already at 30 with six weeks left in the season. It's been that kind of year, but the Giants have more modest goals. 

They haven't even had a hitter reach 20 since Brandon Crawford went deep 21 times in 2015, but this should be the year a Giant ends that powerless run. In fact, it should happen easily, and multiple players could get to 20. 

The Giants haven't had multiple guys hit 20 since 2014, when good friends Buster Posey and Hunter Pence did it, and they haven't had three get there since 2006, when Barry Bonds, Moises Alou, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz all hit at least 20. 

Here are three with a good shot at ending the organization's drought, and one wild card:

Kevin Pillar

Currently the team leader at 17, Pillar already has set his career-high. He said last week that the lineup has to keep the same approach day in and day out and take advantage of the rewards that ballparks like Chase Field provide, but Pillar has actually done plenty of damage at home. He has 10 homers at Oracle Park, four more than any other Giant. 

Pillar is streaky, but his pull power works well at home and he plays every day. The odds are high that he becomes the first Giants outfielder since Pence in 2014 to hit 20 homers, and the next guy should join him ...

Mike Yastrzemski

The rookie has become the best story of the season, and with three homers on Friday night he got up to 16, one more than he ever hit in a minor league season. Yastrzemski's power is for real; he has 28 homers across two levels this season, has hit six out of Oracle Park, and distributes his blasts to all fields.

With two more, Yastrzemski will tie Buster Posey's mark as a rookie. The Giants haven't had a rookie hit 20 homers since Dave Kingman in 1972. Their rookie record is 31, set by Jim Ray Hart in 1964. That'll be out of reach for Yastrzemski, but he should easily get to 20. He already has 11 homers in the second half. 

Evan Longoria

The third baseman has 15, but he missed time with a foot strain and remains slightly hampered by the injury. Still, Longoria has two homers since returning and has a shot at his 10th 20-homer season in the big leagues. 

With Pablo Sandoval out, Longoria is no longer in a timeshare, although he'll want to take advantage of road trips like this one. Of Longoria's 15 homers, 12 have come away from Oracle Park, where he's hitting just .215. 

Brandon Belt

A wild card, because he only has 14 but has traditionally gone on runs where he hits four or five in a week. Belt hasn't really gotten hot this season, but he hit a pair of homers over the weekend after a talk with Bruce Bochy and a move down in the lineup.

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It would take a hot streak to get him to 20, but Belt has gotten close before. He has a pair of 18-homer seasons and two with 17. 

Giants GM Scott Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley Field bleachers

Giants GM Scott Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley Field bleachers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi has been part of the group moving the bullpens to center field at Oracle Park, but once the season starts, he'll never have an up-close view of the action out there. The front office has a suite on the club level and Zaidi also has an office in the clubhouse, where he can work while watching his Giants. 

If Zaidi is able to accomplish his goal of getting the Giants back to the postseason, though, you might see him out in the bleachers by the new bullpens. His general manager might demand it

Scott Harris was an integral part of the Cubs' baseball operations department when the team won the World Series in 2016, and earlier that year, he played a leading role in a moment that went viral. Harris and other Cubs executives watched a game from the bleachers after the Cubs clinched their division, with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein sporting a fake mustache that made him stand out even more than his fame would have. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Harris explained how he got Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, and other Cubs executives to watch a game from Wrigley's wild bleachers. Harris said they generally watched games from the general manager's suite behind the plate and always noticed how much fun fans were having in the bleachers. 

"We were longing for a day when we could actually go out into the bleachers," Harris said. "I kept asking Theo and Jed, 'Hey we should do that one time' or 'Everyone should have the opportunity to go.' They finally said, 'If we win the division, the next day we can all go out to the bleachers.' Sure enough, we won the division and I reminded them via text message that night and we set it up so that we could go sit in the bleachers for that game. 

"We thought we would get away with it for a few innings -- maybe by the seventh inning people would start to catch on. In the very first inning the relievers in the bullpen started pointing at us and then our centerfielder flipped a ball to us. We thought to ourselves, 'Well, our cover is blown.'"

For Harris, hired a week ago to rebuild the organization with Zaidi and Gabe Kapler, it's more than just a funny story and memorable day. It's an example of the kind of leader he wants to be. Asked what stood out about working for Epstein and Hoyer, who finally brought a championship back to Wrigley Field, Harris mentioned their "commitment to culture."

"These are really stressful and very demanding jobs and you often work closely with people for as many as 17 hours a day, so culture is very important, working relationships are very important," Harris said. "You have to work closely together with the people on your baseball ops staff and the president and put yourself in a position to make the right decisions, to make sound baseball decisions one after another after another, to reshape an organization. 

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"They were fully committed to that in Boston (where Epstein won a title). Jed was in San Diego and then both Theo and Jed were in Chicago, and I hope to bring elements of that to San Francisco."

For more of Harris' thoughts on coming to San Francisco, learning from Epstein and Hoyer, developing top prospects, and baseball research and development, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Cubs' Theo Epstein explains why Scott Harris will succeed with Giants

Cubs' Theo Epstein explains why Scott Harris will succeed with Giants

The Giants took plenty of criticism last week for their decision to hire Gabe Kapler as manager, but the week's other big move was met with positive reviews. One of the people who complimented Farhan Zaidi's decision to hire Scott Harris as general manager was the executive who had hoped to keep him around. 

At the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters that he was thrilled for Harris and knew it "was an opportunity he couldn't turn down -- a No. 2 (job) of another storied franchise in his hometown." Harris served as assistant general manager of the Cubs before Zaidi hired him last Sunday. 

"We're thrilled for him, but it was bittersweet," Epstein told NBC Sports Chicago. "We loved working with him and he was a big part of our culture and guys around the major-league team love working with him. It will leave a pretty significant void that we'll have to fill. We'll distribute a lot of his responsibilities around to a few different people internally and re-evaluate as we continue to look outside, if there happens to be the right fit outside the organization, too."

Harris' decision was a loss for the Cubs, who have had other notable departures in the front office since winning the World Series in 2016. There has been speculation within the industry that Epstein will leave the Cubs when his contract expires, which could have led to Jed Hoyer taking over that job and Harris getting Hoyer's GM responsibilities. 

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Harris loved his time in Chicago and called working for Epstein and Hoyer a dream situation for anybody looking to break into the game. He was hired as a 25-year-old in 2012, but seven years later Zaidi called with an offer that was too good to turn down.

"He's got incredible work ethic. He's got significant intellectual capacity, but he's very down to Earth, fun to be around," Epstein said of Harris. "He doesn't tell you how smart he is. He's one of the guys everyone loves going to to share things and pick their brain. He's got a good feel around managing up, managing down, managing laterally, (a) good feel with the players and uniformed personnel. He'll do a really good job over there."