3 early areas for improvement for the Giants

April 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SAN FRANCISCO -- It’s still too early to draw firm conclusions about the 2024 Giants, but it’s safe to say that the club isn’t firing on all cylinders yet.

The Giants have won only one of their first four series so far, leaving much to be desired on both sides of the ball.

Here are three areas where San Francisco could use some improvement moving forward:

1. Timely hitting

The Giants’ inability to cash in on scoring opportunities has been their most glaring issue during their first homestand, against the Padres and Nationals. San Francisco entered Wednesday only 2-for-33 (.061) with runners in scoring position over its previous five games. Those struggles came into full view in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night, when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs but were unable to score against right-hander Kyle Finnegan, who closed out a 5-3 win for the Nationals.

“That’s been a theme for us, unfortunately,” manager Bob Melvin said. “If we keep getting them on, we’ll score them, but it’s getting a little frustrating.”

Many fans are already calling for the Giants to promote young hitters such as Marco Luciano and Luis Matos from Triple-A Sacramento, but Melvin said he doesn’t foresee any major lineup shakeups anytime soon.

“I don’t think we’re at that point right now,” Melvin said before Tuesday’s game. “We have a group of guys that we’re going to run out there for a while. We’re, what, 11 games into it? I think that’s kind of a small sample size as far as what our offense is going to look like.”

2. Right field production

The Giants haven’t been swinging the bat well across the board, but the slow start from their right-field platoon -- Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater -- has been particularly pronounced. The duo has gone a combined 3-for-30 (.100) with 12 strikeouts over the Giants’ first 12 games, though Yastrzemski took a step forward by recording his first multihit game of the season on Tuesday.

“The last three games, he’s taking much better swings,” Melvin said. “He’s getting better balls to hit, not chasing. It’s a lot better. It just seems like it takes a little while.”

Slater has gone 0-for-7, but he should have a prime opportunity to snap his hitless streak against Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin on Wednesday afternoon.

Yastrzemski and Slater aren’t the only bats the Giants need to get going. Thairo Estrada (.174, .449 OPS), Matt Chapman (.184, .592 OPS) and Nick Ahmed (.222, .513 OPS) have also stumbled out of the gate, making it more challenging for San Francisco to consistently extend rallies.

3. Need for speed

The Giants ranked last in the Major Leagues in stolen bases in 2023 with 57. They seem to be in danger of being left in the dust again this year, as they entered Wednesday as the only team in the Majors without a steal.

Estrada was the Giants’ only true basestealing threat last year, leading the team with 23, but he hasn’t had many opportunities to flash his speed because he has struggled to get on base. Jung Hoo Lee never swiped more than 13 bases in a single season over his seven years in the KBO, but the Giants are hoping he’ll be able to leverage his above-average speed and become more aggressive on the basepaths in the future.

“We’re not going to lead the league in stolen bases, but we need to put a little bit more pressure on the opposing defenses,” Melvin said. "That’s something we are talking about. I have noticed that zero in the stolen base column as well.”