What do the SF Giants do about the defense at second base?

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

It is no secret at this point in the season that the SF Giants have played poorly on defense. Based on the defensive metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Outs Above Average (OAA), they are a bottom-third team at nearly every position.

What do the SF Giants do about the defense at second base?

That said, the defense at second base has become increasingly concerning as Thairo Estrada has committed several key errors this past week. In Thursday's game against the Colorado Rockies, Estrada allowed Charlie Blackmon to reach base due to an error in the fourth inning and then allowed a runner to score later in that inning on another error.

The Rockies squeaked by with a 4-2 victory in that game and their three-run rally was due entirely to poor defense. The defensive struggles continued on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers as the 26-year-old infielder committed yet another error in the eighth inning.

The Dodgers scratched one run across the board in that inning but is a run that likely could have been prevented with better defense. The Giants secured a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers and Estrada's error made a close game feel closer.

In a bit of an oddity, Estrada has only recorded four errors on the year with three of them coming in the last couple of games. He has a .980 fielding percentage, which is a tick below the .982 league-average fielding percentage. At least in that regard, the versatile infielder has been serviceable.

However, the defensive metrics may not agree. Estrada has been worth -10 DRS and -2 OAA. The poor DRS mark is due largely in part to the lack of range that the metric suggests. There is no second baseman in baseball with a worse DRS at second base than Estrada.

OAA has a slightly better view of his defense, but he still ranks as one of the worst fielders in baseball at his position. This is not meant to criticize Estrada, who has performed well outside of his defense.

This is meant to point out that the Giants have a problem that they will likely need to address, but what is the solution? There are not many options internally.

Tommy La Stella was expected to see a lot of time at second base but he has played just two innings there as he continues to recover from offseason Achilles surgery. He is healthy enough to hit, but it feels like the Giants are not confident in his ability to play the field yet.

Another option is Donovan Walton. In a relatively small sample, Walton has performed well at second base, posting +2 DRS and -1 OAA since joining the Giants. Of course, Walton has not given the Giants a lot on offense, slashing .170/.185/.358 (50 OPS+) with one home run and eight RBI in 54 plate appearances with San Francisco.

The final option is Wilmer Flores. Flores has spent considerable time at first base and third base in 2022 and he has been rough at the latter position. He might be an improvement over Estrada at second base, but it is likely by a small margin.

With Estrada, Flores, and Darin Ruf, the Giants have three, defensively-limited players who hit from the right side and only one designated hitter. The solution at second base may be outside of the organization, but Estrada's bat has been good enough to remain in the lineup. That is not a question.

The question will be how much of a drop-off at second base can the Giants tolerate if Estrada before they have to make a decision. They built a roster that was expected to perform well on defense and that has not been the case at all, especially at second base.