Barber: New arrivals are powering Giants' win streak
SAN FRANCISCO — Alex Dickerson, celebrated largely for his power since coming to the Giants, used his speed to chug all the way from first base to home plate in the 10th inning Friday night, taking advantage of some comical New York Mets defense to score the winning run — the only run — in San Francisco’s 1-0 win.
Dickerson’s heady play made good on a fantastic outing by starting pitcher Tyler Beede, who matched Mets ace Jacob deGrom for eight scoreless innings. The Giants’ only extra-base hit, meanwhile, was a double by Kevin Pillar in the fifth. Dickerson, Beede and Pillar have something in common, besides Friday-night highlights. None of them were on the Giants’ opening day roster in 2019.
That seems like a quirky bit of news. Except, if you’ve been watching this team lately, you know it isn’t news at all. The Giants are currently being driven by late arrivals.
We’re talking about the hottest team in baseball, winner of seven straight games, 10 of its past 11 and 14 of 16. And among the most important pieces of the streak have been Dickerson, Donovan Solano, Stephen Vogt and Mike Yastrzemski.
“A couple of ’em I didn’t know a lot about,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday’s game. “Yastrzemski, but I heard from our triple-A staff on how he plays the game, and how he was doing down there. And Dickerson I knew a little bit about, just from being in Poway; I lived there. So when San Diego called him up, I knew he had a lot of power. He missed a lot of time because of injuries. But I knew coming here they all were capable of adding some offense to this team, and they’ve done that. Now, to do as well as they’ve done, maybe a little bit (surprised).”
The new guys haven’t done it alone. Veteran Brandon Crawford destroyed the Rockies in a doubleheader at Colorado on Monday, and legendary Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner was stellar in Thursday’s start. Yet the fact remains: The Giants’ most effective hitters in 2019 have been guys who weren’t in the organization when Farhan Zaidi was hired as president of baseball operations in early November.
Look at batting average. Going into Friday’s game, Dickerson (acquired from San Diego in a trade on June 10), Solano (signed as a free agent on Jan. 24), Vogt (signed as a free agent on Feb. 14) and Yastrzemski (acquired from Baltimore in a trade on March 23) were all among the Giants’ top five. The fifth guy was Austin Slater. The Giants drafted him in 2014, so Zaidi doesn’t get credit for discovering Slater.
But he wasn’t on the opening day roster. You’d have to figure the top exec at least had input into the Giants’ decision to call up Slater on July 1.
Look at on-base percentage. Dickerson, Solano and Vogt were all in the team’s top five, along with Slater. Brandon Belt was the only holdover there. Slugging percentage? Dickerson, Slater, Vogt, Yastrzemski and Solano all appeared in the top six. (I am eliminating Aramis Garcia and his 17 plate appearances, which may be cheating.) The OPS+ metric, which adjusts for ballpark? Dickerson, Vogt and Solano joined Slater in the top four.