SF Giants: 5 bold predictions for the 2021 season
3. Austin Slater earns an All-Star selection
Had there been an All-Star game in 2020, Austin Slater would have warranted consideration. The Stanford alum nabbed six steals and hit .347/.458/.653 with four home runs in the first half of 2020. Heavily limited in a platoon with Alex Dickerson, though, Slater started just 14 of the team’s first 30 games.
Slater’s speed remains an intriguing wild-card. His elbow injury last year led the Giants to prevent him from being too aggressive on the basepaths, but before the injury, he had stolen five bases in just 14 games and was comfortably leading the league in steals. If he receives 550 plate appearances in 2021, Slater has flashed the power and speed to produce a 20-20, and maybe even 30-30, season.
This spring, Slater continued his explosive offensive play, generating a 1.328 OPS with four home runs. All of his homers came against right-handed hitters. Kapler told reporters on multiple occasions that the Giants believe he is more than just a platoon bat. Late in spring training, Slater began receiving playing time in center field, where he looked quite comfortable. Assuming he can handle all three defensive positions (he’s always been above-average in right and left field), it should be easy to find him at-bats.
The biggest impediment to the All-Star game may be the stacked outfield talent throughout the National League. Juan Soto, Mookie Betts, and Ronald Acuna Jr are probably guaranteed to start at this year’s mid-summer classic, barring injuries. Others like Bryce Harper and Slater’s teammate Mike Yastrzemski seem like favorites as well. Injuries always play a significant role in the final All-Star rosters, and Slater has struggled to stay healthy. But if his body can hold up, he seems primed to receive the playing time to begin receiving more national attention.