The SF Giants have not had a 30-home run hitter since Barry Bonds blasted 45 long balls way back in 2004. Could that trend be coming to an end thanks to Michael Conforto?
One SF Giants outfielder is on pace to exceed 30 home runs
The Giants have some abnormally long trends going on. The first is the nearly 20-year drought since a player has hit 30 or more home runs. The other is that they have had a different left fielder on Opening Day every season since Bonds' final year with the club way back in 2007.
This season, it was Blake Sabol who had the honors of covering left field on Opening Day. If he sticks with the club, he could be a candidate to break the trend next season. It feels like an on-field ceremony would be in order if that occurred.
It is hard to ignore the fact that Bonds is at the center of both of these longstanding trends, so is it a curse? That is a conversation for a different day.
Though, if it was a curse, then one aspect might be broken this season. The Giants signed Conforto to a two-year, $36 million contract this past winter. This includes an opt-out after the first season.
The Giants have not had a 30-homer hitter in nearly 20 years, but they have added a handful of players with experience doing it. Of course, Conforto did it with the New York Mets in 2019 when he blasted 33 home runs. Similarly, Joc Pederson did it with the Los Angeles Dodgers that same season, whereas Mitch Haniger reached that threshold with the Seattle Mariners just two seasons ago.
Plus, Gary Sánchez , who had a brief stint with the organization, did it twice in a New York Yankees uniform. The Giants collected as many 30-homer hitters they could find with the hopes that one would eventually break the trend. Okay, that was not their actual strategy, but it would be funny if the front office met to discuss how they could break the Bonds curse.
That brings us to Conforto. It has been an up-and-down year so far for the 30-year-old, but that is not totally unexpected given that he missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
The overall offensive production has been mixed as he has registered a .757 OPS in 175 plate appearances in 2023, which would be the third-worst mark in his eight-year career if the season ended today. That said, he is drawing a healthy number of walks (12.0 percent walk rate) and hitting for power.
As a team, the Giants have hit 67 home runs this year, which ranks as fourth-best in the National League. They do not necessarily have a conventional power hitter. Rather, the lineup has a lot of hitters who have modest or above-average power.
Conforto is in that latter category as his 10 home runs leads Giants hitters. J.D. Davis (8) and LaMonte Wade Jr. (7) are not far behind. At 24-25, the Giants are nearing the one-third mark of the season, meaning that Conforto is slightly ahead of pace to reach 30 home runs.
Of course, pace stats like this assume that the pace does not change, which is unrealistic. However, it would be fun if Conforto reached at least 30 home runs, so we could focus on the other half of the Bonds curse.