A couple of times a week this spring, Gabe Kapler would get asked a question meant to flush out some more information about what the Giants lineup might look like on a daily basis. Kapler gave some answers away, saying early in the spring that Tommy La Stella and Mike Yastrzemski would likely hit back-to-back at the top against righties, but he also held other concepts close. For instance, it was a surprise when Buster Posey hit seventh on opening day.
During one session, Kapler prefaced an answer about the lineup by reminding reporters that it would change all the time. He wasn't kidding.
The Giants are 25 games into their season, and in Wednesday's win, they used their 25th different lineup.
Most of the names in every game have been the same, but guys have been moved around depending on matchups, hot and cold streaks, injuries and other ideas coming from the coaching staff. Before going on the IL, Yastrzemski led the Giants with 20 appearances, 17 of which came in the No. 2 spot, but that's as consistent as it gets with this group. There are only two spots in the order where the Giants have used the same player more than half the time, the other being La Stella's 14 appearances as the leadoff hitter.
Most of the daily changes come in the second half of the lineup, as nine different players have hit fifth and eight have hit sixth or seventh, but even key spots have seen turnover. Eight different Giants have hit third, led by Donovan Solano, who did it seven times before getting hurt.
Posey hit third or fourth in about 90 percent of his plate appearances prior to 2021, but he didn't bat third for Kapler until the 24th game of this season and hasn't hit fourth yet. Brandon Belt (12 times) and Evan Longoria (eight) have been the primary cleanup hitters, and Alex Dickerson (four) and Darin Ruf (one) have also done it.
Going with 25 different lineups in 25 days might seem extreme on the surface, but it's becoming more common around the game. The Padres, who host the Giants on Friday for the start of a fascinating series, have used only one lineup multiple times, and that group has been in the same order just twice. The Dodgers, a guide for much of what the Giants are trying to accomplish, have also used 25 lineups in 25 games.
It's the way of the game now and Kapler has tried to prepare his players for it. He said this spring that depth charts and Cactus League lineups were being posted in the coaches' office days in advance, something he shared with players in their first team meeting. They were encouraged to think a few days ahead.
"One thing players historically say is they want to know where they stand. The second thing they historically say is they want to be shot straight," Kapler said in February. "One way to do that is just to open it up."
The Giants are trying to be transparent with their players, which is helpful because they certainly haven't been predictable.