Kevin Pillar emotional on Toronto return for first time since trade to Giants

Kevin Pillar emotional on Toronto return for first time since trade to Giants

Kevin Pillar started against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre in what he eventually admitted was an emotionally charged event for him.

Up until being traded to the Giants, Pillar spent his entire career as a member of the Toronto organization -- and they more than made him feel back at home.

The crowd had signs wishing him love, the Jays dedicated a video tribute to him, and the home crowd cheered when he went out on to the field -- even giving him a standing ovation. He made sure to wave and give his thanks to the fans who stuck by him all of those years. 

Following the Giants' 7-6 win, Pillar spoke to the media and talked about the many emotions going on:

"To come back and see the genuine appreciation that people have," Pillar told reporters. "The video tribute was a really nice touch."

[RELATED: Watch Pillar receive ovation from Jays fans]

Pillar found out about the tribute a few days prior, and he mentioned how he did his best to keep his composure, despite him being a very emotional guy.

As Mac Williamson slumps, Giants plan to talk about plan in left field


As Mac Williamson slumps, Giants plan to talk about plan in left field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mac Williamson has spent much of his time the last two days talking to teammates who have been through this. He has gone over his swing with hitting coaches Hensley Meulens and Rick Schu. He sent videos of his swing to Doug Latta, his personal hitting coach, to see if the specialist could see anything that's drastically wrong. 

Williamson, who is barely keeping afloat in his last real shot with the Giants, is using any source he can to try and find a fix. At the end of a long session with reporters Thursday, he smiled and nodded towards the visiting clubhouse. 

"Maybe I can go talk to (Austin) Riley a little bit," he said. 

It was a joke, and the Braves won't be at Oracle Park when the Giants return Friday, anyway. After the worst game of his career, it's unclear if Williamson will be there. 

The left fielder struck out five times in a 5-4 loss to the Braves and all five came with a runner on base. Williamson is just the fifth Giant to whiff five times in a game, and the timing couldn't be worse. He entered the day batting .143 in what has become an extended audition for the left field job. 

What's next? Manager Bruce Bochy didn't give definitive answers. 

"I don't know," Bochy said when asked about Williamson. "We'll talk about it. It was a rough day for Mac. I know he's probably pressing -- I can't say probably. That's a tough day there. So anyway, we'll huddle up and see what we can do to add some offense here."

Williamson has gotten 47 at-bats since getting called up to try to win the job, but he's batting just .128 with a .439 OPS. Asked a second time about the 28-year-old, Bochy said, "We've got to get some production from left field. There's no getting around that."

This season has at times been about more than that. More than anything, the Giants are trying to find future contributors, so 47 at-bats may be viewed as too small a sample by the new front office. Mike Gerber and Austin Slater and Mike Yastrzemski are ready for their shot in Triple-A, but the Giants have not seemed all that ready in recent days to pull the plug on Williamson's run. 

Thursday may have changed that, though. It was a game that left Williamson wondering where his timing has gone. He fouled off 13 pitches in six plate appearances, including nine fastballs.  

"It's about being on time more consistently," Williamson said. "I've been getting pitched interestingly. It's difficult because when you're in Triple-A you don't have the quality of arms you do here. Down there you see a lot of breaking pitches and off-speed pitches. Up here a lot of these guys are running it up to 96, 97. I'm just not on time with the fastball."

That's the foundation for any hitter, and Williamson will continue to try to find the fix before time runs out. He said that in the past, when slumping, he has taken a step back and tried not to do as much pre-game work, but then he noted it would be disingenuous to his teammates to do the same at the big league level. 

So Williamson has come to the park early, taken extra swings, watched additional film and talked to as many teammates as he can. 

"That's the frustrating part for me," he said. "I'm not taking it for granted."

Giants' Farhan Zaidi expresses thoughts on WAR, Buster Posey's value

Giants' Farhan Zaidi expresses thoughts on WAR, Buster Posey's value

Ever since the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi as their president of baseball operations this past offseason, there have been battles between talking heads arguing on the basis of traditional baseball stats and advanced metrics. 

Zaidi, who earned his bachelor of science degree at MIT and his PhD at Cal Berkeley, is widely seen as a baseball mind that leans on analytics. So called baseball fans who don't want the game to evolve argue that he's using too many numbers to try and change the game. At the same time, Zaidi has help lead highly successful teams with the A's and Dodgers. 

So, what are his thought on WAR (Wins Above Replacement)? 

"Yeah, I think it's a good measure on how a guy has produced in the past. I think it's a nice, valuable back of the envelope calculation for how much value a specific player brought you," Zaidi said Wednesday on KNBR

"It's not the be all, end all." 

The last part of his quote stands out. Far too many people assume that Zaidi would look at analytics like WAR and not take into account other parts of the game. What he does appreciate about WAR, however, is the goal of the stat is to show the totality of a player. 

"I do like that it factors in all the contributions a player makes," Zaidi said. "It includes his base running, his defense, his offense and more."

For instance, Giants catcher Buster Posey is second to only Angels star center fielder Mike Trout in fWAR since 2012. In slightly over seven seasons, Trout has been worth 67.4 WAR according to FanGraphs while Posey's WAR is 46.5. Even though his power has significantly declined, Posey's defense and ability to frame strikes is still elite. 

"His framing numbers this year are back at an elite level," Zaidi said. "When you really look at the evidence, having one of the top framing catchers in the league can save you as many runs, or produce you as many runs, as having a great cleanup hitter. 

"Between all the things that he does, doing it at that position with the bat and the offense you get, that's what puts him so high up that list." 

[RELATED: Potential trade partner set to get up-close look at MadBum]

An issue with WAR is the fact that the formula is different depending on what outlet you look at. Posey's WAR since 2012 is 10.1 points lower by Baseball Reference than FanGraphs.

The fact is, however, even the brightest minds in baseball that have more of an analytical background are taking multiple factors into account when constructing their team in the now and for the future.