What should the San Francisco Giants do with Kevin Pillar?
By Leo Luna
The San Francisco Giants will have an interesting decision to make on center fielder Kevin Pillar this winter.
One of the first big decisions of the offseason for the San Francisco Giants will be what to do with incumbent center fielder Kevin Pillar.
The 30-year-old is under team control through one more year via arbitration, but he’ll likely cost somewhere in the $7-8 million neighborhood after earning $5.8 million this year.
Is he worth that?
Although he did not join the team until April 2, Pillar leads all San Francisco Giants players in hits (142), doubles (36), home runs (21), RBI (79), runs scored (74) and steals (11).
When he launched his 20th home run of the season on Sept. 1, he became the first Giants player since Brandon Crawford in 2015 to reach the 20-homer mark.
Typically, when a player leads his team in a handful of offensive categories, he is viewed as part of the club’s long-term plans.
Aside from his offensive production, Pillar has also made several highlight-reel catches in center field, displaying why the fans in Toronto gave him the nickname “Superman” before he was traded.
Looking beyond the highlights, Pillar has actually been below average on the defensive side of things this year. Take a look at where he ranks among the San Francisco Giants top 5 outfielders that are under team control for 2020 in Defensive Runs Saved Above Average:
- Mike Yastrzemski: 6
- Steven Duggar: 5
- Austin Slater: 2
- Alex Dickerson: 0
- Kevin Pillar: -1
So, while Pillar gives his fair share of entertainment, he has not exactly been a Gold Glove-caliber defender.
That said, the biggest red flag is on the offensive side of things.
Pillar has drawn a dismal 15 walks in 558 plate appearances on the year, which amounts to a paltry 2.6 percent walk rate.
How bad is that?
Tyler Austin made 411 fewer plate appearances than Pillar during his time with the Giants, but he still managed more walks with 17.
On the year, including his brief time in Toronto, Pillar has posted a 2.6 percent walk rate that ranks dead last among the 140 players who have qualified for the batting title this season.
That’s led to a .289 on-base percentage that ranks 136th on that same list of qualified players and marks the second straight season he’s posted a sub-.300 on-base percentage.
There’s a chance the San Francisco Giants front office could flirt with the idea of signing an offensively gifted free agent like Marcell Ozuna, Nicholas Castellanos, or J.D. Martinez if he elects to opt-out of his contract at the end of the season.
Even if the Giants were to break the bank to bring aboard one of those three players, Pillar has still done enough to at least consider bringing him back for the 2020 season.
Still, Kevin Pillar’s future in a San Francisco Giants uniform is a bit “foggy” as they would say in the Bay Area.