Ironic, isn’t it?
In the eight seasons since Barry Bonds played, the Giants have trotted out seven more-or-less full-time left fielders, and the best of the lot, all-around production-wise, was Melky Cabrera, whose 2012 All-Star MVP season was cut short after 113 games because of a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
But this isn’t a rehashing of the steroid era, which might or might not be over. You’d have to ask Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun to set you straight on that score. Or perhaps check in with the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.
This is about how the Giants are starting their ninth season without Bonds and they have yet to find a left fielder capable of matching the rather modest home-run total of 28 that Bonds hit in 2007, a swan-song season during which he turned 43, to say nothing of his fabulous farewell on-base percentage of .480.
If you were inclined to make a really dramatic powerless-point presentation, you wouldn’t limit the discussion to Giants left fielders.
Fact: No Giant has hit as many as 28 homers in a single season since Bonds. Not Buster Posey. Not Hunter Pence. Not the Panda.
Left field, traditionally regarded as a power-producing position, has been filled on the Giants since 2008 with the likes of Fred Lewis (13 homers combined in 2008-09), Pat Burrell (2010, 18 HR), Cody Ross (2011, 14 HR), Cabrera (2012, 11 HR, with a .346 batting average and .390 on-base percentage, 25 doubles and 10 triples), Gregor Blanco (2013, 3 HR), Michael Morse (2014, 16 HR) and Nori Aoki (5 HR).
And, as opening day 2016 fast approaches, let’s introduce the Giants’ latest left fielder: Angel Pagan, their former center fielder, moving over to make way for the newly acquired Denard Span, who has hit 37 home runs — in eight big-league seasons. Pagan’s career high of 11 homers came six years ago as a member of the Mets, the same number he has hit for the Giants in 300 games over the past three seasons combined.
To be fair, though, it should be mentioned that Pagan’s game-ending two-run inside-the-park homer in the 10th inning on May 25, 2013, to beat the Rockies ranks as one of the most thrilling regular-season moments in team history.
And by no means is this meant to ignore the key postseason contributions made by Ross (league championship most valuable player in 2010) or Morse (tying pinch homer in pennant-clinching game of 2014).
And, yes, this is a fair question to ask:
Why all the complaining about a power vacuum in left field when the Giants have won three World Series since Mr. Bonds wasn’t invited back, three more than they won in the 15 seasons in which he played for San Francisco?
The answer is simple. You’ve got to go back to the George W. Bush administration (heaven forbid) since fans saw a Giants left fielder who could smack the ball out of the yard on a regular basis, a left fielder who presents a legitimate and consistent long-ball threat, a left fielder who stands in the batter’s box and frightens the opposing pitcher.
And with all due respect to the team’s players and braintrust and the three glorious championships they’ve provided, fans are greedy.