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San Francisco Giants: Checking in on the Kevin Pillar experiment

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JUNE 01: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 1, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JUNE 01: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 1, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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When the San Francisco Giants acquired Kevin Pillar from the Toronto Blue Jays, he looked to be an upgrade over many of the in-house options.While he still may be an upgrade over many other alternatives, Kevin Pillar has offered minimal value for the San Francisco Giants.

Pillar, who is known for his defense, began his Giants tenure as the center fielder. However, the eye test and defensive metrics both confirmed that he is no longer a defensive wizard in center field.

During his time with the Giants, the 30-year-old has recorded -3 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in center field. Since shifting to right field, he has graded out a bit better (2 DRS), but he’s still far from the defensive standout he was during his time Toronto.

The Giants now have Steven Duggar entrenched in center field and there is no sign of Pillar moving back any time soon.

Offensively, Pillar brought with him a track record of modest production. Prior to this season, he had recorded a .692 OPS (87 OPS+) in six seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Even with the bar set at that level of production, Pillar has come in well below expectations with the bat since the trade, despite showing some pop with six home runs.

Never known as an on-base threat, Pillar is an aggressive hitter with a 16.3 percent career strikeout rate compared to a 4.1 percent walk rate.

Incredibly, his walk rate has actually regressed this season. So far, Pillar has walked in just 2.8 percent of his 247 plate appearances. Essentially, if a pitcher throws him a strike, it should be considered a mistake considering his aggressive tendencies.

The rest of Pillar’s numbers as a Giant are equally concerning.

He is batting .226 with a .621 OPS. That is a far cry from the .260 batting average and .692 OPS he posted while playing for Toronto. The Giants would happily take that production.

Not surprisingly, all of that mediocrity on both sides of the ball has made Pillar a sub-replacement level player. According to Baseball Reference, the 30-year-old has been worth -0.3 WAR while wearing the orange and black.

The good news is Pillar’s contract status. He is arbitration-eligible for one more season following this one. That means that the San Francisco Giants could decide to non-tender his contract if they do not feel he is worth the price.

Of course, this assumes that the Giants are unable to trade him before this year’s trade deadline. Given his production, it seems unlikely there will be any demand for a light-hitting fourth outfielder.

It is fair to say that Pillar’s tenure has been a disappointment thus far.

Next. Building a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays

However, since the San Francisco Giants are short on outfield depth, he will continue to get opportunities to turn his season around. Despite his performance, he is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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