2. This lineup is geared to take advantage of a juiced ball
If you look at the Giants roster, it’s easy to get nervous about where the power is going to come from. Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Mike Yastrzemski are the only players to have ever hit 20 home runs in a big-league season. Even among the younger players, Jaylin Davis and Alex Dickerson are the only ones who’ve consistently shown even above-average power.
While it’s unlikely intentional, it’s worth bringing back a controversy from last season that seems a decade old: the juiced ball. Before the Astros were caught hitting trash cans, Mookie Betts was traded to the Dodgers, and a global pandemic suspended the season, Dr. Meredith Willis showed us the baseball in 2019 was different. To put it simply, it was easier to hit home runs.
Players like Mike Yastrzemski, who had decent power, but limited strikeouts and consistently made good contact, were the prime beneficiaries. Yastrzemski combined to hit 33 home runs between Triple-A and MLB last season after never before eclipsing 15 in a single campaign.
The Giants roster is filled with guys who’ve shown a propensity for putting the ball in play throughout their minor and limited major league careers. Of the younger players to break camp with the team Joe McCarthy, Mauricio Dubon, and Austin Slater all have similarities to Yastrzemski. With the exception of Dubon, they all have shown fantastic approaches and a willingness to draw walks and have shown a propensity to rack up extra-base hits in the minors. Dubon matches the latter but makes for his lack of patience with an incredible aversion to striking out.
Obviously the odds of all three players having a Yaz like breakout is extremely unlikely, but I wasn’t the only one seeing balls fly out of parks over the past few days:
A number of Giants hitters seem designed to gain the most from a juiced ball.