The SF Giants lineup, which has been in the midst of a brutal slump, should get reinforcements soon enough. According to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, the Giants hope that both Mitch Haniger and Mike Yastrzemski can return in the upcoming series against the Cincinnati Reds.
SF Giants "hope" to get 2 veteran bats back for series against Cincinnati
The Giants invested heavily in injury risk this past winter. In some sense, it is not terribly surprising that Haniger, Yastrzemski, and Michael Conforto are all on the injured list at the same time. The Giants' outfield depth has been worn down.
Interestingly, this has led to some of their rookies getting a look while they are in a playoff push. In Saturday's 7-3 loss against the Atlanta Braves, Luis Matos, Heliot Ramos, and Wade Meckler all saw time in the outfield. For the past several years, the Giants have leaned heavily on aging veterans, but that trend is beginning to change.
That said, it is hard to replicate the production of some of their veterans. Yastrzemski is probably the hardest outfielder to replace given that he plays center field and is able to impact the game on both sides of ball.
The left-handed bat is slashing .233/.314/.439 (105 OPS+) with 11 home runs, 32 RBI, and 43 runs in 285 plate appearances. This includes a 10.2 percent walk rate against a 26.0 percent strikeout rate. Those numbers do not jump off of the page, but it is a huge improvement to the offense they have received from the center field position lately.
Plus, Yastrzemski is a solid fielder as he has been worth +3 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and +1 Outs Above Average (OAA) in center field this year. The outfield defense has taken a noticeable step back in his absence.
The 33-year-old makes an impact when he is on the field, but staying on the field has been the problem. He has appeared in just 77 games as he has made three trips to the injured list in 2023 as he has dealt with a hamstring strain. The latest trip also included a setback but it does not sound as if he will need a rehab assignment.
On the other hand, Haniger had yet to really make an impact when he was healthy. The veteran bat has produced a .230/.281/.372 line (79 OPS+) with four home runs, 22 RBI, and 20 runs in 160 plate appearances.
His overall numbers do not show it but he had been making good contact as he had posted a 90.9-MPH average exit velocity and a 16.7-degree launch angle. His expected stats such as a .266 expected batting average and a .463 expected slugging percentage are much better than his surface-level stats, but that only goes so far. Haniger has appeared in four games with the Sacramento River Cats during his rehab assignment.
The Giants are ready to turn the page on August as they have gone 8-14 in 22 games prior to Sunday's series finale against the Braves. The schedule does begin to ease up and the Giants hope that their reinforcements help make one final playoff push.