With the departure of Kevin Pillar, the San Francisco Giants will need to rely on other players to provide power in 2020.
The 29-year-old had a breakout rookie campaign in 2019, hitting .272/.334/.518 with 21 home runs and 55 RBI in 107 games. No one expected the kind of production he delivered when he was called up in late May, but now he is one of the most exciting players on the team.
A few of his home runs ranked among the most memorable moments of the season.
There was his extra-inning, walk-off shot against the New York Mets on July 21:
And of course, his home run at Fenway Park where his grandfather starred for 23 seasons:
During the 2019 season, Pillar, Yastrzemski, and Evan Longoria were the only Giants players to hit over 20 home runs. Removing one of those three players means that the burden will be shifted onto the other two players to provide additional pop.
Despite a slight resurgence last year, Longoria is going to be another year older in 2020. Between his injury history and Father Time, it’s hard to count on him as a steady source of production, let alone to lead the team in home runs.
On the other hand, Yaz is still in the prime of his career, despite getting a late start in the big leagues. I also expect to see Yaz in the middle of the lineup more than last year now that Pillar is out of the equation, which means he will be in a prime position to drive in runs and hit dingers.
The only Giants player I could really see challenging him for the team lead in long balls is Brandon Belt. If he stays healthy and the Giants move him to the middle of the lineup where he belongs, then it is possible that we could see a 20-plus home runs season from him as well.
But like Longoria, there is a feeling that Belt’s best years might be behind him, and there is always the nagging concern that his next trip to the injured list could be right around the corner.
So I am going to put my money on Mike Yastrzemski to lead the 2020 San Francisco Giants in home runs.
As long as he stays healthy, builds upon last year, and does not put too much pressure on himself by trying to carry the offense, then I could envision a season where he blasts 25 home runs for the orange black.