In 2019, the Giants were fortunate to get solid offensive output from their outfield group. This was the first time the Giants had good offensive production from their outfielders since 2016 when Denard Span and Hunter Pence were patrolling the cavernous outfield spots of Oracle Park. However, 2020 may be a different story, unless the Giants do something about it. Yasiel Puig may be that something.
ATC and the Steamer are Fangraphs projection systems that project player output for the 2020 season. Both of those projection systems have the Giants outfield production dropping from their 2019 numbers. Yaz is expected to drop from a well above average hitter to an average hitter as he is projected to lose 23-29 points on his batting average, 12-18 points on his on-base %, 75-102 points on his slugging %, and between 30-43 points on his weighted on-base average. All of those drops push Yaz from a 2.2 WAR player in 2019 to the projected .9 WAR player in 2020.
The good news for the Giants is that they should see similar numbers from Alex Dickerson in 2020. However, with the release of Kevin Pillar, the Giants lose 1.8 WAR from their CF spot as well as approximately 1.3 WAR from the projected decline of Yaz. While it’s near impossible to replace all of that production there is a solution and Giants’ fans may not like it. His name is Yasiel Puig.
Yasiel Puig 2019 Stats vs. 2020 Proj.
|Stats||2019 Stats (147 games)||2020 Proj.|
|BB/K||.33||.41 – .42|
|AVG||.267||.267 – .268|
|OBP||.327||.332 – .335|
|SLG||.458||.473 – .479|
|wOBA||.330||.335 – .341|
|WAR||1.2||1.7 – 1.8|
As you can see, Yasiel Puig is expected to be right around his numbers in 2019, with slight improvements. Puig is also a plus defender and base runner, with some base-stealing ability that the Giants sorely need. Steven Duggar is currently projected to start in CF but he has been inept with the bat to this point in his career and projections for 2020 say more of the same. Signing Puig to a 1-2 year deal would be a viable way to get younger in the outfield. Puig is only 29 and would replace some of the lost outfield production. In this scenario, Puig would likely play right field with Yaz moving over to center.
Why Puig Works for Now and Later
In 2019, Puig signed a 1 year 9.7 million dollar contract in the offseason. A similar contract in the 10 million dollar range for 1-2 years would give the Giants a much needed right-handed outfielder who is a plus defender, a catalyst on the basepaths, and an above-average hitter who isn’t over the hill. In addition, Puig would get to face Madison Bumgarner a ton, once again playing in the same division. Puig would give the Giants a middle of the order hitter and with the rest of the Giants’ veterans projected for bounce-back years, the Giants could scare some people. If the Giants fall out of contention by mid-July then Puig, assuming his numbers are approx. his projected outcome, becomes a valuable trade piece. Therefore, the Giants can use Puig to build toward the future.
For example, the Cincinnati Reds signed Puig last offseason to the aforementioned 1 year 9.7 million dollar deal. Puig was flipped at the deadline in a three-team trade involving the Padres and Indians. The Reds received Indians star pitcher Trevor Bauer, the Padres received Reds’ top prospect Taylor Trammell, and the Indians received Yasiel Puig (Reds), Franmil Reyes (Padres), pitching prospect Logan Allen (Padres), and pitching prospect Scott Moss (Reds). No matter how you slice it, every player that changed hands in that trade was an extremely valuable piece. While the Giants signing Puig will be for their (likely doomed) hopes of postseason baseball in 2020, it has a second purpose and that would be to quicken the pace of this rebuild.
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