The Giants didn't plan to have a designated hitter in 2020, but now that the rule change is all but assured for a shortened season, they're actually in pretty decent shape.
The obvious solution is shifting Hunter Pence and Alex Dickerson into that spot on a regular basis, as they were set to split time anyway in an effort to keep both veteran outfielders healthy. The addition of the DH also would open at-bats for Pablo Sandoval, who should be 100 percent healthy if the sport resumes in July, clearing a bit of the infield logjam created by the additions of Yolmer Sanchez and Wilmer Flores.
Buster Posey would surely soak up plenty of DH at-bats, and it's possible the rule change could lead to Joey Bart making the "Opening Day" roster. With his power, Bart could even be an option to DH at times if the Giants don't feel the glove is ready.
A DH would help the Giants score more runs in 2020, but will it actually help them win more games? They would be at a disadvantage against AL teams that were planning for this all along, and it's possible that adding one more hitter would actually widen the gap in the NL West.
FanGraphs took a look at rosters recently and determined the Giants would be right near the bottom of the NL in terms of gains from a universal DH. Here's how we think they would stack up against the rest of the division:
Los Angeles Dodgers
The good news is a shortened season would give some hope to the rest of the teams in the division, who would have no chance of keeping up with the Dodgers' depth over 162 games. The bad news is that a universal DH gives some of that edge right back.
The Dodgers could move Joc Pederson, who hit 36 homers last year, to DH and still have an outfield of Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and A.J. Pollock. Or could give most of the DH at-bats to Max Muncy and still have an infield of Bellinger, Gavin Lux, Corey Seager and Justin Turner. They could give Turner, 35, additional rest and replace him with Chris Taylor or Kiké Hernandez. They could use the DH to keep Betts or Bellinger in the lineup for both ends of a doubleheader.
The Dodgers being the Dodgers, they will do all of these things. Any way you slice it, this helps them. They have the most talented lineup in the league, and they might benefit more than anyone from having an additional hitter.
They're pretty similar to the Giants, in that a DH could best be used getting older players off their feet. First baseman Daniel Murphy certainly could use a bat-only role, and 33-year-old outfielder Charlie Blackmon would benefit, along with 34-year-old Ian Desmond.
The Rockies could fill the ensuing hole at first by moving Ryan McMahon, who hit 24 homers last year, around the infield, allowing extra time for Brendan Rodgers, a 23-year-old infielder who is one of the top 30 prospects in the game.
This is where you might see the biggest impact in the standings. The Giants finished ahead of the Rockies last year and expected to do so again, but the DH certainly helps the Rockies more than most NL clubs.
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San Diego Padres
They've spent years trying to figure out what to do with Wil Myers, and this could solve that problem. The Padres would also be able to hide Jurickson Profar's glove at times, and there are certainly nights when they would be better off using Francisco Mejia at DH and letting the other catcher, Austin Hedges, handle the young staff.
The Padres have a weird glut of outfielders who are talented but not stars, and the DH would probably benefit that group quite a bit, particularly Josh Naylor, a good young hitter who has struggled defensively. Newcomer Tommy Pham was the designated hitter 21 times last season in Tampa Bay.
Overall, the Padres definitely would have an edge over the Giants in a game with a DH.
The answer here is simple:
Bumgarner Bomb pic.twitter.com/YmCmaCrhzI— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 25, 2019
OK, OK, the Diamondbacks probably won't do that. Bumgarner hit just .127 last year with two homers, but you can bet he'll convince Torey Lovullo to give him at least one day as the DH. Perhaps even against the team that let him go to a division rival ...
The Diamondbacks have a strong all-around roster, one that should compete for a postseason spot under any rules, but they won't hugely benefit from a DH. Jake Lamb seems to be the best solution, and perhaps being a DH would allow him to stay healthy and get back to his 2017 (30 homers, .844 OPS) ways.
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The Diamondbacks might actually be hurt by this more than any NL West team. They were hoping to chase down the Dodgers, and giving the Dodgers a DH while also taking away the advantage Bumgarner had over other pitchers certainly favors Los Angeles.