SF Giants: BR 2021 Projections for the Infield Core

SF Giants, Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski

SF Giants outfielders Alex Dickerson (left), Mauricio Dubón (center), and Mike Yastrzemski (right) celebrate after the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Oracle Park. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2021 SF Giants roster is not complete yet, but next year’s projections are out from Baseball-Reference.

The SF Giants still have roster tinkering to do. However, the infield contingent of Brandon Belt, Donovan Solano, Brandon Crawford, Evan LongoriaWilmer Flores, and Buster Posey seems the least likely to see any major moves. There could be a complimentary piece added at some point, but that’s unlikely at the moment. With Baseball Reference releasing their projections for 2021, it’s worth examining what the Giants have for 2021.

Looking at projections can be a fun exercise, especially if your favorite players and team are projected to be good. However, if they are not, then maybe taking up that hobby you have been putting off for years might be a better use of your time.

The Giants exceeded expectations in 2020 with a 29-31 record and nearly sneaking into the playoffs. This included career seasons from Belt, Crawford, and Solano. However, Baseball-Reference’s projection model is expecting the Giants infielders to come back down to Earth. The question Is, how much?

Catcher Buster Posey 2021 projection: .256/.328/.379 line, 5 home runs, 12 2B, 24 RBI, and 26 runs.

2020 stats: DNP.

Ehhh, well. Posey has not played in a major league game since the end of the 2019 season, so I can understand why this projection is so pessimistic about his return. If the Giants are going to have a shot at the playoffs next year, they will need more production from Posey. One has to think that Joey Bart would take his job by midseason if this were his production.

First baseman Brandon Belt 2021 projection: .245/.347/.427 line, 17 2B, 12 HR, 39 RBI, and 43 runs.

2020 stats: .309/.425/.591 line, 13 2B, 9 home runs, 30 RBI, 25 runs scored.

Wow, Belt is expected to crater from his career year in 2020. Though, his projected stats look much more in line with his career thus far. Health is always the biggest factor with the long-time Giants first baseman, and he will spend part of this offseason recovering from heel surgery.

Second baseman Donovan Solano 2021 projection: .290/.341/.438 line, 18 2B, 8 home runs, 40 RBI, 38 runs.   

2020 stats: .326/.365/.463 line, 15 2B, 3 home runs, 29 RBI, and 22 runs.

I can get on board with this. After all, Solano has been a huge surprise since he joined the Giants on a minor-league deal before 2019. Anything the Giants get out of his bat is a bonus, and his 2021 projection suggests he will still be a solid producer, but not necessarily in the running for a batting title.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford 2021 projection: .236/.313/.390 line, 16 2B, 10 home runs, 39 RBI, and 40 runs.

2020 stats: .256/.326/.465 line, 12 2B, 8 home runs, 28 RBI, and 26 runs.

Crawford had a strong year in 2020, but the projection is not buying in just yet. Rather, the long-time shortstop is expected to take a step back in his final season under contract.

Third baseman Evan Longoria 2021 projection: .242/.302/.413 line, 15 2B, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and 41 runs.  

2020 stats: .254/.297.425 line, 10 2B, seven home runs, 28 RBI, 26 runs.

This is the type of production we have come to expect in the latter stages of Longoria’s career. Though, I would expect him to hit for a little more in the home run category. He gives you modest power with little plate discipline while normally flashing a good glove at the hot corner.

Utility infielder Wilmer Flores 2021 projection: .270/.328/.454 line, 18 2B, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and 40 runs. 

2020 stats: .268/.315/.515 line, 11 2B, 12 home runs, 32 RBI, 30 runs.

His 2021 projection would fit in with his career thus far. However, Flores posted his highest slugging percentage (.515) for his career in 2020. Given that it was his age-28 season, it is not too crazy to believe that maybe there is a little more pop in his bat than the projection gives credit.

Well, the SF Giants are projected to have some hold-your-breath seasons with players like Belt, Crawford, and Posey. Whereas, Longoria, Solano, and Flores are expected to put up numbers that we have come to expect. Interestingly, every infielder is expected to regress from their 2020 season, so despite the career years from several of them, the projections models remain a little more tepid.