Mike Krukow

Evan Longoria's recent offensive slump has Mike Krukow 'really concerned'

Evan Longoria's recent offensive slump has Mike Krukow 'really concerned'

One week before Opening Day, Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow predicted third baseman Evan Longoria would hit at least 20 home runs this season

In just the second game of the season, Longoria was on the board with his first homer of the year. Krukow's crystal ball seemed to be onto something. 

But a lot can change in just a couple of games. 

Longoria had just one hit in three games against the Rays over the weekend. After a rough stretch against his former team, he's down to a .194 batting average with nine strikeouts and only seven hits. 

“I’m really concerned about it,” Krukow said Monday on KNBR

Krukow believes there was an emotional factor to Longoria's down series against the Rays. Chosen with the No. 3 pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, Longoria spent the first 10 years of his career in Tampa Bay before the Giants traded for him last offseason.

“One thing we’ve learned about Longoria is that he’s an emotional guy, and this series with Tampa was a big series to him," Krukow said. "He loved Tampa. That was his identity. He was the guy there, and we saw last year when he came over and saw how out of water he was the first month or two. He just wasn’t in the comfort zone, and we saw it again these last three games with Tampa.

“He had one hit, and I think the team, all his friends, and what that city meant to him became a distraction for him this weekend." 

The Giants begin a three-game home series against the Padres on Monday night. Getting the Tampa Bay series over with could be good for Longoria, and Krukow's hoping he can hit the reset button. 

"I’m hoping he can get beyond that today when the Padres get into town, but they need to have some production from the three-four-five guys, and right now they’re not getting enough." 

For the second straight season, Longoria is off to a slow start. He went 0-for-17 to start his Giants career last year. This is concerning for many reasons, but especially for the veteran when you look at his career splits. 

Entering his 12th MLB season, Longoria has typically started off hot at the plate. His .280 career average in the first month of the season is actually the best out of any month before slowing down after that. 

[RELATED: Tyler Austin fills one big hole for Giants' struggling lineup right away]

As a whole, virtually nobody is hitting for the Giants. Their .208 team batting average is 26th in baseball and their six home runs are the third-worst in the game. 

The anti-Dodgers have to flip the switch soon, or else it's going to be another long season.

Giants' Buster Posey still doesn't look quite right, Mike Krukow says

Giants' Buster Posey still doesn't look quite right, Mike Krukow says

The one question Buster Posey is probably sick of answering is regarding the health of his hip. How does it feel after undergoing surgery to address an impingement in his right hip and repair a torn labrum last August?

"That’s the reason you do the surgery,” the Giants catcher told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic in February. “To try to get back to where you previously were before the damage.”

Posey has remained optimistic since the procedure, assuring everyone he feels fine. But that's not how Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow sees it. 

“It’s all about bat speed and bat strength”, Krukow said in a recent interview with KNBR. “If you go back and analyze all of his at-bats since the start of the season, I’ll bet less than a quarter of them have had balance and strength and drive. A lot of the times he’s been off-balance, he’s just been sort of waiving through the strike zone.”

The Orange and Black have played six games so far this season, with the six-time All-Star slashing .167/.250/.222 with three hits and not one RBI in 18 at-bats.

Those aren't numbers we are used to seeing. And they certainly aren't numbers he is used to.

“He had a good at-bat where he hit a base hit up the middle last night, that was well balanced," Krukow added. "He hit one the night before where he hit one to the wall, and he hit that ball well. But he’s not right, he’s still looking for his swing and looking for his balance.”

The Giants currently have the seventh-worst batting average across Major League Baseball (.206) and the sixth lowest amount of RBIs (14). So yeah, sure -- Posey needs to hit, but with these numbers, it appears they all need to step up to the plate, pun intended.

“They need him, if he’s going to be hitting in that four spot, he needs to start contributing with RBIs, I don’t think he has any yet. That is something that they need to get some productivity out of that spot in the lineup. If he’s going to stay there, he’s going to have to come up with some big hits or move down in the lineup.”

[RELATED: New Giant Pillar has to convert family of Dodgers fans]

Perhaps, though, a lineup change could be the key to, well something -- anything -- at this point. To that, Krukow makes a good point.

But if it's a balance issue ... then maybe his hip isn't where it used to be. And that's a completely different matter to address.

Buster Posey primed for big improvements in 2019, Mike Krukow predicts

Buster Posey primed for big improvements in 2019, Mike Krukow predicts

Buster Posey showed his greatness as a hitter last season, even while hitting only five home runs. 

Hear me out.

Posey hit .284, which was his lowest since 2011 but the second-best by a catcher in 2018, all while using solely his hands. He used his world-class bat control to flip singles left and right, with no lower body and a hip ailment so bad that a microfracture was discovered during season-ending surgery. 

Now imagine if Posey, who turned 32 yesterday, can spin on the ball and use his lower half? From what he saw in spring training, Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow believes a much-improved version of Posey will be at the plate in 2019. 

“That’s the first thing I was looking for during spring training, and I saw that," Krukow said Wednesday on KNBR. "He was spinning on the ball, and his batting practice was free and easy. And as the end of spring training came around, he started driving the ball to right field. Last year, he slapped. This year, he’s driving the ball.”

Posey is one of a handful of Giants Krukow believes can hit 20 home runs this season. The catcher hasn't reached that mark since 2014, but the veteran showed he's healthy during spring and a rejuvenation of power could be on its way.

Krukow also believes Posey, who won a Gold Glove in 2016, will be much improved behind the plate as well.

“When you have a sore hip, you become a one-legged catcher,” Krukow said. “You’ll sit back on one hip because you don’t want to distribute the weight on an injured hip. You can get by, and that’s what (Posey) did, but this year he’s got more symmetry in the way he’s setting up.

"He’s got more bounce in his legs. He’s coming out of the crouch and fielding his position on bunts, and he’s getting those plays much easier now than he did last year. I do think there is significant improvement in his body.”

Even though he was limited to 105 games last season, Posey was still worth 1.5 dWAR, according to Baseball Reference, 1.1 points higher than the previous year. He was also worth 10 defensive runs saved as a catcher, according to FanGraphs, eight runs better than his 2017 performance. 

[RELATED: Grading Giants' 2019 Opening Day 25-man roster by position group]

If the Giants want to defy expectations it all starts with Posey. He appears healthy, and if so, the former MVP can take back his crown as the top catcher in baseball.