2. Sticking with the old guys is bound to go wrong, so have good depth
Probably the biggest key to the 2021 success was a resurgent and mostly-healthy season from many older hitters. Brandon Crawford hit .298 with 24 home runs, 30 doubles and 90 RBI at the age of 34. Evan Longoria, age 35, only played half of the season but put up a .261/.351/.482 slash line with 13 round trippers. Brandon Belt was hurt at different times, as usual, but mashed 29 home runs (just missing becoming the first Giants player with 30 since Barry Bonds in 2004) and a .975 OPS in 97 games at 33 years old. Even 33-year-old Donovan Solano provided a big boost, with a .280 average and 17 doubles in 101 games.
This year? Solano was gone after signing with the Cincinnati Reds (and missing a chunk of time with injury). Belt got into 78 games and generally didn't seem healthy at all. He hit .213 with eight home runs and an OPS almost exactly 300 points lower (.676). Crawford? Hurt (118 games), had a stretch of poor defense compared to his normal standards when he tried to play through injury, and batted just .231 with nine homers. Longoria was decent but was also injured for a time; he launched 14 bombs in 89 games but hit .244.
It didn't stop there. Tommy La Stella, expected to at least be a utility man and maybe the regular at second base, played just 60 games and hit .239 with a .632 OPS at 33 years old. A total of 314 plate appearances were given to 35-year-old Darin Ruf, whose .216/.328/.373 line was a far cry from the .271/.385/.519 of 2021.
And of course, Buster Posey rode off into the sunset after a resurgent .304 average and .889 OPS in what ended up as his final year.
San Francisco this season had to rely on a rotating cast of characters at the plate and in the field: a total of 37 players took at least one plate appearance, with mostly poor results.
The best unexpected performance was trade acquisition J.D. Davis, who hit .263 with eight homers in 49 games at first base and third base. The fill-ins at shortstop were the most glaring when both Crawford and Thairo Estrada spent concurrent time on the Injured List: Donovan Walton (.158 average and ugly defense in 24 games) and Dixon Machado (emergency trade pickup from the Cubs, 3-for-15 with no extra-base hits in five appearances) turned one of the most important spots into a black hole.
It was clear the Giants weren't ready for so many players to drop off at once. It ruined a promising season, though, so ideally the future will see adequate replacements ready to go in Triple-A if something happens to the geezers on the big club.