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By Oliver Collins
If you know anything about the San Francisco Giants it’s that they have always been underdogs. Even through their many championship spoils, the Giants were at one point or another counted out. A team without the budget that powerhouses like the Dodgers or Yankees possess, this has put the Giants into a difficult situation this season. Having lost six games straight after getting swept by the Chicago Cubs they now find themselves two games back in a very competitive wildcard race. It’s now or never for a club that has already exceeded expectations for this season but is hoping to make that final step to become a 2023 playoff team.
What truly sets the Giants apart this season is their exceptional team depth and their next-man-up mentality. Manager Gabe Kapler has fostered an environment where every player feels valued and contributes to the team's success. Kapler also looks to statistics to decide lineups and matchups against various opponents, taking the unpopular statistical approach founded by mathematician Bill James (if you want to learn more, watch the film Moneyball for further explanation). Every single man on the roster is important to the team’s success which can create an epic sense of team confidence, but this has seemingly backfired in recent months.
Kapler has become notorious for prioritizing matchups throughout his tenure in coaching. So why does Kapler believe so deeply in the power of lefty/righty vs. righty/lefty matchups? Mark Brooks at Applied Vision Baseball wrote on this new coaching strategy, “Conventional wisdom in baseball is that yes, a left-handed batter does better against a right-handed pitcher… Most of a right-handed pitcher’s breaking pitches will move away from a right-handed batter, making them harder to hit. A right-handed batter has to lunge after an outside pitch and has a weaker swing as a result. But those same breaking pitches will curve toward a lefty, thus making them easier to hit.” The question is whether or not this strategy is working as the Giants have found themselves in a do-or-die situation.
While Kapler has certainly found some success with this Giants team they have yet to separate themselves as a perennial threat in the MLB. Fans are growing restless and many are calling on him and general manager Farhan Zaidi to pay more to bring in superstars like international Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani next season. If the Giants don’t make the postseason in 2023, it’s most certainly time to break the bank and bring a new hero to the Bay.
Madison Sciba '24,