Each Friday, the writers at Around the Foghorn will tackle a different San Francisco Giants topic with a roundtable discussion. This week, we predict who will lead the team in home runs.
To say the San Francisco Giants have not been a prolific home run hitting team in recent seasons would be the understatement of the decade.
Last season, they finished 29th in the majors with 133 home runs. Third baseman Evan Longoria led the way with 16 long balls—the lowest total from a team leader in all of baseball.
The last player to reach the 20-homer mark was Brandon Crawford, who hit 21 homers during the 2015 season.
To find the club’s last 30-homer season, you have to go all the way back to 2004 when Barry Bonds slugged 45 as a 39-year-old.
As expected, the 2019 season has been more of the same. The team has managed just 15 home runs in 20 games, which checks in 27th leaguewide.
With that in mind, this week’s roundtable question was simple and to the point: “Who will lead the 2019 Giants in home runs?”
These five writers made up our roundtable panel:
- Hiren Patel (writer page)
- Joel Reuter (writer page)
- Matthew Oscodar (writer page)
- Nick San Miguel (writer page)
- Steve Klein (writer page)
Let’s dive right into the answers:
Hiren Patel: Brandon Belt, 21 HR
It almost process of elimination here and Belt’s main opponent will actually be his own health.
He’s currently tied with Kevin Pillar for the team lead with four, and they may very well end up as the top two home run hitters by season’s end.
Belt has a 45.5 percent hard contact rate, 54.5 percent fly ball rate, and a 23.5-degree launch angle so far this year—all career-highs and indicators of potential home runs.
His previous season-high is just 18 homers, but he always seems to get injured at the wrong time. Hopefully, with good health, Belt will hit 21 home runs.
Joel Reuter: Chris Shaw, 21 HR
I’m going outside the box a bit with my pick.
Despite the fact that he started the season in the minors, there’s still a good chance Chris Shaw will see significant playing time at the MLB level this season.
He’s off to a hot start at Double-A, hitting .333/.438/.667 with two home runs in nine games, and if he continues to swing the bat well. it’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the majors.
Let’s say he takes over the everyday left field job from light-hitting Gerardo Parra and waiver pickup Tyler Austin sometime in May. If he can hold onto the job all season, there’s no reason a player with his raw power can’t eclipse the 20-homer mark, even if he racks up plenty of strikeouts along the way.
Matthew Oscodar: Kevin Pillar, 15 HR
His impressive start is enough to convince he can lead this team with 15 home runs.
He hits the ball harder than anyone on the roster and maybe some of his doubles will turn into homers. The bar is really low, though.
Nick San Miguel: Brandon Belt, 19 HR
He has been the most consistently powerful bat in the lineup and we all know that if he gets hot and stays healthy, he can put up respectable power numbers for a home player in Oracle Park. The staying healthy part is a big if though. He’s had hot starts and potential career-best performances derailed by injury in the past.
He will end the year with 19 home runs. The Giants not having a player who is a lock for 20 home runs could make Belt’s quest for a 20-homer season an interesting storyline down the stretch—albeit a little less dramatic one than Bonds’ quest for 756. In the end, just to break our hearts, he’ll come up one short.
Steve Klein: Brandon Belt, 22 HR
The most consistent hitter on the team, and the only one who is not below league average so far, Belt has come close to 20 homers in every season in which he’s had 500+ plate appearances.
After a few injury-shortened seasons. I’m banking on him staying healthy in 2019, and he is already off to a good start with four dingers in the first three weeks.
Time will tell which of our writers was closest. One thing is for sure, though. The Giants can use all the home runs they can get.