Why the Giants' 20-year drought of 30-HR seasons could end

February 19th, 2024

There are two notable streaks going on in San Francisco right now, and both begin with Barry Bonds. One is that of the Giants' Opening Day left fielders, which have been different each year since he retired. The other is the team’s drought without a 30-homer season by a player -- last done by Bonds in 2004, when he hit 45.

We’ve seen players come close. Brandon Belt hit 29 in 97 games in 2021, and it’s fair to assume he would have hit at least one more had he avoided injuries throughout that year. The Giants have had 25 individual 20-homer seasons since the start of the 2025 season -- eight of those featuring at least 25 home runs. They’ve been on the doorstep, but not at the plateau.

Enter . The slugger hit 36 home runs in 137 games for the Marlins last year. Now, the Giants’ most recent acquisition has a very real chance to change the course of this recent history for San Francisco.

Here’s a look at the context behind the Giants’ 30-homer season drought and why Soler may finally be the player to do it.

Inside the streak

As noted above, 2004 was the last time a player hit at least 30 home runs in a single season in a Giants uniform. Since the 2005 season began, every other team in the Majors has had at least five individual 30-homer seasons. The Yankees have had 29 such seasons, the most of any team.

In total, there have been 496 individual 30-homer seasons for one team in that span by 220 different players. Those 496 include 10 30-homer seasons by Albert Pujols and nine by Miguel Cabrera.

In fact, every other team has had at least one player do this since the start of 2019. And still, the fans wait by the Bay.

Why Soler is a unique candidate

Let’s start with the fact that signing Soler is already a rare move for the Giants during this time period. The last time any player started a season with the Giants after hitting at least 30 homers the year prior was in 2005, the very year the streak began. Bonds had hit his 45 with the club, and the team signed Moises Alou, who mashed 39 with the Cubs in ‘04.

Soler is the Giants’ first offseason signing on the heels of a 30-homer season since Alou, which in many ways means he represents the best chance to snap the streak simply based on historical precedent.

And why he can snap the streak

But there’s a lot more than one historical note on Soler’s side. He’s a veritable power hitter -- he’s been in the 90th percentile or better in barrel rate in three of the five seasons he’s qualified for Statcast’s rankings. This past season, he ranked ninth in the metric out of 129 players with at least 350 batted balls. He trailed only Shohei Ohtani, Marcell Ozuna, Matt Olson, Kyle Schwarber, Adolis García, Luis Robert Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corey Seager. In other words, good company.

Soler’s barrel rate was 15%. Since Statcast began tracking in 2015, 48 players have had at least 300 batted balls in a season for the Giants. The highest barrel rate of those 48? Brandon Crawford’s 11.5% in 2021. If we lower the qualifier to 250 batted balls, we get 58 individual seasons, led by Joc Pederson’s 15.1% in 2022 -- the only mark above 12.1%. But he had just 284 batted balls, playing 134 games and hitting 23 home runs.

While Oracle Park is often maligned for inhibiting home runs, consider this. Soler hit 36 home runs last season with Marlins Park as his home abode. Over the past three seasons, Marlins Park has the third-lowest Ballpark Factor for home runs for right-handed hitters, behind only PNC Park and the Oakland Coliseum. Oracle Park is fourth lowest on that list, but as Soler has proven, that’s no reason to doubt his ability, given what he did as a Marlin in ‘23. And if you’re curious, he hit 16 home runs at home and 20 on the road -- so it is doable.

Soler has played 130 or more games in three seasons in his career, with the aforementioned 36 home runs in ‘23, 27 home runs in ‘21 and 48 home runs in ‘19. When he’s gotten the chance to be an everyday player, the total has always been within reach.

The projections

Thirty home runs is a reachable goal for Soler this season in a Giants uniform. ZiPS projections, considering Depth Charts' playing time, have him with 27 home runs, and other projection systems are all within the range as well.

FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski, creator of ZiPS, was kind enough to provide some additional context on just how rare this is. ZiPS goes back to 2004, and the only Giants player it has projected at 30 or more homers was Bonds, in 2004-06. In fact, prior to '24, the highest homer projection for a Giant was 23 for Pablo Sandoval, who's entertaining his own comeback story with the team, in 2012.

This means Soler has the highest projected home run total for any non-Bonds Giants player since the streak began.

What’s next

There’s history, his own proven ability and projections, all showing that Soler has the best chance at a 30-homer season for the Giants in quite a while.

Now, we all get the joy of seeing how it plays out on the field this season and whether Soler does something not seen by McCovey Cove since 2004.