Prior to this season, the SF Giants constructed a roster that was going to win games based on good pitching and defense with just enough hitting. There is one key area where they have struggled to start the year and it is a surprising disappointment.
SF Giants have struggled in surprisingly key area to start the season
The Giants have not been nearly as good with the glove as they were in 2021. Defensive metrics can be misleading in small samples, but there is enough substance that general conclusions can be made.
The one caveat to this is that the Giants are still missing several key players including Evan Longoria and Tommy La Stella at third base and second base, respectively. They should give the Giants a little extra stability when they do return and that should be within the next couple of weeks.
On top of this, Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt have missed a handful of games apiece due to COVID, whereas Steven Duggar is on the injured list with an oblique strain. This is all to say that the Giants have not trotted out the expected defensive alignment just yet in 2022 and there have been instances where players have played out of position.
Nevertheless, the defensive metrics have not painted a favorable picture of the Giants in the field. This matches the eye test as there have been several defensive miscues on the mound as well as second base and third base.
San Francisco is the second-worst team in baseball in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at -14 and near the middle-of-the-pack in terms of Outs Above Average (OAA) at -3. For the sake of comparison, the Giants posted +32 DRS and +27 OAA in 2021. Both marks were some of the better in baseball.
With the exception of shortstop, the struggles have been across the board on defense. The first part of that statement should come as no surprise as Brandon Crawford continues to excel at shortstop on the heels of winning his fourth Gold Glove award in 2021.
The Giants rank dead last in terms of DRS at first base (-4) and second base (-6), whereas they have the second-worst mark at third base (-5). The outfield contingent has been marginally better in a relative sense as they have combined for -3 DRS, which is the eighth-worst mark in baseball.
This is all to say that the Giants defense has not been good and that evaluation extends beyond just the eye test. The hope is that these numbers begin to trend in the right direction as the roster returns to health, but it is something to monitor as the season progresses.
For a roster that was built on pitching and defense, they certainly have not executed well enough in the field. This is a product of many things including the shortened spring training and the fact that some players are getting exposed at certain positions. That said, the Giants are off to a nice start with a 16-12 record, but they will need to be much better with the glove than they have shown in the first five weeks of the season.