For years, the SF Giants struggled to get any meaningful production from their outfielders, but one projection system suggests the times are changing.
As currently constructed, the Giants are planning to deploy Mauricio Dubón, Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson, and Mike Yastrzemski in the outfield. On top of this, Darin Ruf is very likely to return assuming the Giants decide to tender him a contract for 2021.
For the first time in years, the Giants appear to be creating some outfield stability. Despite this, they could still look to add a bat or two for insurance. Slater and Dickerson both have extensive injury histories and everyone, but Dubón and Yastrzemski are limited to outfielder corners. Moreover, while Yaz played some center last season, he’s a well below-average defender.
Still, the defensive questions do not carry over to the other side. Barring a surprising move, at-bats will be hard to come. The Giants received solid production from their outfielders in 2020. They got a .947 OPS, .860 OPS, and .783 OPS from the left field, center field, and right field positions, respectively. Each outfielder will look to build on strong seasons, and the projections for 2021 are encouraging.
Mike Yastrzemski 2021 projection: .267/.348/.498 line, 16 home runs, 18 doubles, 48 RBI, and 54 runs scored.
2020 stats: .297/.400/.568 line, 10 home runs, 14 doubles, 35 RBI, and 39 runs.
The Baseball-Reference projection is expecting the left-handed slugger to take a step back in 2021. Regardless, they believe in his ability to post an above-average season next year. That said, Yastrzemski built off of a solid rookie season to put his name into the MVP conversation in 2020. Barring an injury, I would expect him to exceed those projections.
Mauricio Dubon 2021 projection: .261/.329/.410 line, nine home runs, 11 doubles, 33 RBI, and 37 runs.
2020 stats: .274/.337/.389 line, four home runs, four doubles, 19 RBI, and 21 runs.
Dubon improved as the season wore on in 2020, and this gave us hope that he would take the next step forward in 2021. However, his projection is expecting him to be more of what we saw last season with a bit more power. While not necessarily a massive step forward, he was a competent hitter this season, and it’s good to see a projection system by into that floor.
Alex Dickerson 2021 projection: .266/.339/.483 line, 13 home runs, 16 doubles, 43 RBI, and 44 runs.
2020 stats: .298/.371/.576 line, 10 home runs, 10 doubles, 27 RBI, and 28 runs.
Similar to Yastrzemski, this model is expecting Dickerson to take a step back in 2021. However, his 2021 projection still represents a solid season for the 30-year-old. Dickerson has proven to be a highly productive platoon hitter, and so long as he remains in that role, he should see better numbers than the model predicts.
Austin Slater 2021 projection: .250/.343/.411 line, eight home runs, 10 doubles, 29 RBI, and 33 runs.
2020 stats: .282/.408/.506 line, five home runs, two doubles, seven RBI, and 18 runs.
From the outfield group, this would be the most pessimistic projection. Slater seemed to have found a new gear in 2020, and the hope is that he can carry that momentum into 2021. That said, the model believes that even if Slater’s stats come back down to earth in 2021, he can still be an on-base threat. Of course, the question hanging over all of this is injuries. If Slater can maintain his health for a full season, the Giants could have a budding star across from Yastrzemski.
Darin Ruf 2021 projection: .245/.329/.441 line, 10 home runs, 11 doubles, 34 RBI, and 30 runs.
2020 stats: 276/.370/.517 line, five home runs, six doubles, 18 RBI, and 11 runs.
Ruf was a pleasant surprise in 2020 after spending the previous three seasons in the KBO, and the model predicts that success will continue next year. Over the years, Ruf has proven capable of handling left-handed pitching, and that turned into a very productive timeshare in left field with Dickerson.
While the 2021 projections for the SF Giants outfielders suggest some regression, it is encouraging that the model still buys into each player’s hitting ability at least at a league-average level. Not too long ago, Giants fans would have done anything for just passable hitters in all three outfield spots. It’s a credit to the team’s coaches and player development staff that so many players have taken such strides with the organization.