With the additions of Kevin Pillar and Gerardo Parra, the San Francisco Giants have significantly upgraded their outfield defense.
For the past several years, the San Francisco Giants outfield was an area in obvious need of improvement. It seemed every fly ball found a gap.
During that time, Bobby Evans handed the center field keys to Denard Span and Austin Jackson. While both veterans posted good defensive numbers earlier in their careers, their defensive metrics were trending in the wrong direction by the time they joined the Giants.
For whatever reason, the Giants evaluation of both outfielders failed to project the difficulties that they would experience. Maybe Evans simply valued offensive stats more than defensive stats at the outfield spots.
However, defensive metrics cannot be overlooked in the expansive outfield confines of Oracle Park. In fairness to Span and Jackson, they were only part of a greater problem surrounding the outfield.
Since then, Steven Duggar has taken over in center field. His defense has been several steps above what we have come to expect from center fielders in recent years. His range and instincts are polished. Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans, and the rest of the group deserve credit for drafting him.
Still, there was work to do improving the overall outfield defense.
Enter Farhan Zaidi.
In the early going, the new president of baseball operations had failed to impress with some of the moves he had made. Specifically, he had not addressed a key outfield spot. That is, until Tuesday:
Zaidi has now added both Pillar and two-time Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra to the outfield contingent. Neither one is known for his bat, but both have generated above-average defensive metrics in recent years.
For a team that relies heavily on a strong defense, the Giants simply cannot ignore the outfield. Zaidi has recognized this and added two quality outfielders without giving up much in the way of prospect capital.
Pillar, specifically, is an obvious fit on the Giants roster. He bats right-handed and can handle left-handed pitchers. That’s valuable in a division loaded with southpaws. More importantly, the longtime Blue Jays center fielder is known for his superb outfield defense.
With the addition of Pillar, it appears Duggar will now shift to right field, despite his solid defensive skills in center field. He has a better arm than Pillar, so the realignment makes sense.
There has been stiff competition in recent years for center field Gold Glove honors in the American League. As a result, Pillar has never won the award.
Both Pillar and Duggar could be Gold Glove candidates this season.
Meanwhile, the addition of Pillar will likely limit the opportunities Yangervis Solarte sees in left field going forward, with Parra moving from right to left. Parra may also work interchangeably between left field and right field depending on the matchups.
So, while Zaidi failed to reel in Bryce Harper, he has acquired the type of players that can fix the outfield defense.
It is not a major milestone, but for a team that is built on pitching and defense, he has at least succeeded in strengthening the latter.