The struggle is real for the San Francisco Giants offense. Despite having a lineup full of contact hitters, the team is striking out at an alarming rate.
In 2018, only the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies struck out more often than the San Francisco Giants in the National League.The Giants attempted to address that issue by adding several contact hitters to the roster since the end of last season, including Gerardo Parra, Yangervis Solarte, Erik Kratz, and Kevin Pillar.
Even with those moves, the Giants are still swinging and missing way too frequently, with a 24.9 percent strikeout rate as a team.
If the lineup was loaded with power hitters, a few extra strikeouts would not be a big deal.
However, for a team that has not had a 30-homer season since Barry Bonds in 2004, that’s far from the case. Simply put, the Giants are not going to win games by hitting home runs. That’s not how their roster was constructed.
What they should be able to do is manufacture runs by putting the ball in play.
Of the new additions, only Parra and Pillar have proven competent at situational hitting, and across the board Giants hitters are striking out above their career norm. A troubling trend, to say the least.
The table below compares each player’s strikeout rate in 2019 to their career rate as of Sunday morning, via FanGraphs:
Congratulations to Erik Kratz, the only Giants player with at least 20 plate appearances who has improved his strikeout rate this season.
So, why is everyone striking out so much? That’s a good question.
It would be one thing if the team’s high strikeout rate was a result of working deep counts and taking a healthy amount of walks as well. However, the Giants have the lowest walk rate in baseball at 6.4 percent.
One issue seems to be a lack of adjustment.
The Giants have struggled against just about every pitcher they’ve faced, and they don’t seem to be making any adjustments when they see a pitcher for a second or third time in a game.
At some point, hitting coach Alonzo Powell has to be held accountable.
While it’s not fair to heap all of the blame on him for the team’s offensive woes, the disappearance of basic fundamentals like making contact, bunting and hitting behind the runner is troubling, to say the least.
The Giants are constructed to execute a move-the-line offense and that makes the lack of contact extremely problematic. This is not a team that can be competitive without consistently putting the ball in play.
The fact that so many hitters who have historically made contact at a high rate are suddenly striking out at career-high levels is especially concerning.
This group may be capable of righting the ship, but the high strikeout totals so far look like an organizational failure.