The San Francisco Giants have a nice lineup, filled with several all-stars and absent of any glaring holes. The offense is currently fourth in the National League in runs scored, supported by the league’s fourth best on-base percentage. But while the Giants draw a lot of walks and are hitting for a decent average, the lineup lacks a major slugger. (What’s new in post-Barry Bonds San Francisco?)
Why does that matter, you might ask, considering that the Giants have won three World Series with the same core of players and did so without a menacing offense?
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Well, the Chicago Cubs are on a rampage, led by the best pitcher in baseball and a young lineup that scores in bunches—and that’s without budding superstar Kris Bryant getting hot at the plate yet. The Washington Nationals also look menacing, between having the most dominant hitter on the planet, Bryce Harper, and a starting rotation that is five deep.
Of course, the Nationals could very well enter the playoffs as a Wild Card, considering that they’re in the same division as the New York Mets, who have the best pitching rotation that the game has seen in a long time. If Matt Harvey finds his groove, then this team will be absolutely nightmarish in the postseason.
The 2010 Philadelphia Phillies, the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals, and the 2014 Washington Nationals were all formidable opponents, but none of these teams was as good as the 2016 Cubs or Nationals. The Mets offense has some good hitters, but as a unit it isn’t in the same class as Chicago or Washington.
If the Giants reach the postseason, they will need to be equipped to challenge those juggernauts. That means they will need more than great starting pitching and some timely hitting. They need to be able make opposing pitchers nervous every at-bat. To do that, they need to acquire a big-time hitter before the stretch run.
But where would this hypothetical slugger fit into the lineup? As well as Angel Pagan has been playing—he’s probably the best nine hitter in the league, he isn’t reliable due to his health. If the Giants bring in a left fielder, or possibly a first baseman and move Brandon Belt to left (not ideal), then Pagan would become one of the best fourth outfielders in the league, or possibly platoon with Denard Span in center field.
So, who could the Giants add? The answers can be found in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Atlanta, San Diego and possibly Oakland (though the Giants and A’s are averse to doing business together), with lesser options in Tampa Bay and the Bronx, and less likely options in Kansas City and Anaheim. Check back for who exactly the Giants could/should target to fortify their lineup.