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Three lessons the SF Giants hopefully learned in the 2022 season

Andrew Haynes
Joey Bart and Joc Pederson
Joey Bart and Joc Pederson / Brandon Vallance/GettyImages
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3. Show confidence in young players getting their first extended chance

Buster Posey's retirement a year ago created a hole the Giants hadn't needed to consider for over a decade. Luckily, they took a college backstop with the second-overall pick in the 2018 draft, and he got experience at Triple-A in 2021.

But Joey Bart wasn't given the reigns at the beginning of the season.

Curt Casali, an excellent backup in 2021, was re-signed for 2022 to help Bart but also be a safe option if the youngster failed.

It seemed as though Bart felt the looming presence, and he responded with just a .156 average in the first two months before being demoted to Sacramento, while the Giants traded for well-traveled Austin Wynns to split time with Casali.

After Casali got hurt in early-July, Bart was back in the Majors and looked like a different player. He hit .236 in July and, after Casali was dealt at the trade deadline, .328 with an .888 OPS in August. It was apparent he just needed to be trusted with the job and not have to look over his shoulder.

Have other players in the past few years been affected the same way? Probably not to the same extent with the Giants, who were willing to give a longer look to players when they weren't in contention for the playoffs in 2017-2019. Would they have won more early on and staved off the mid-summer slump that sunk the season if Bart was the clear starter from Day 1? Maybe, but San Francisco probably would have been closer to a playoff spot if so.

This is one lesson the team may have learned immediately: they brought up third-base prospect David Villar in July and early-August then brought him back in September, and he responded with a .231/.331/.455 line over 52 games. Villar homered nine times, including twice in the final game, and his September performance showed the ability to be a regular (.269 average, .570 slugging).

In the coming years, players such as Kyle Harrison, Marco Luciano and Luis Matos will be stepping on the field at Oracle Park with the weight of high expectations on their shoulders. The Giants would be wise to give them every chance to work through issues, not giving up on them after just a short stretch or keeping an obvious contingency plan when the youngster has mastered the minor leagues.

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