No, the San Francisco Giants’ offense isn’t suddenly elite with Carlos Correa

2021 was a fluke, and the shortstop’s bat isn’t enough to overcome the Dodgers and Padres

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Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa
Image: Getty Images

After missing out on Arson Judge, it was only a matter of time before the San Francisco Giants used their massive spending budget on one of the few elite hitters left on the open market. For weeks, the Giants-Carlos Correa speculation had been swirling with some people considering San Fran the frontrunners, while others reported that talks between both parties hadn’t gotten that serious. Turns out the formers were correct. The Giants signed former Astros superstar Carlos Correa to a 13-year, $350 million deal.

This is the biggest contract in Giants’ history, the biggest shortstop contract in MLB history, and the fourth-largest contract ever behind only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, Mookie Betts’ $365 million, and Aaron Judge’s $360 million deals. Thirteen years is a long time. At the end of this contract, Correa will be 41 years old. So, is he worth it for the Giants? I doubt it.

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First things first, Correa is bound to fall off at some point during this contract. You can’t expect the same level of play from Correa at 41 years old as the Correa of today. The team’s current shortstop, Brandon Crawford, did have a career year in 2021 at age 34, so let’s assume that Correa can play at an elite level until 37. I think that’s a fair compromise. That’s nine years of high-level shortstop play from Correa. Even if Correa turns into Didi Gregorius in the final four years of his contract, a decade of holding down the six-spot would be worth it for San Francisco. However, we can’t expect Correa’s offensive numbers to remain as high as they are.

Legends of Oracle Park’s ability to suck power out of hitters have already been well-documented — especially for right-handed batters. Since the park’s inception in 2000, there have only been three seasons where a right-handed hitter hit more than 30 home runs — Jeff Kent in 2000 and 2002, and Rich Aurilia in 2001 — and only one other where a right-handed batter hit more than 25 — Hunter Pence (2013) If we take a look at their splits though, we start to recognize a pattern. Aurilia hit 22 of his 37 home runs on the road in 2001. In 2000, Kent had 19 on the road and 14 at home. In 2002, he had 26 on the road and 11 at home. Pence had 10 at home and 17 on the road. Of these four seasons, only one — Aurilia in ‘01 — saw the player post a higher OPS at home than on the road. Carlos Correa has historically been a slightly better hitter at home than on the road in his career. That’s likely to change in San Francisco.

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Luckily, Correa’s offensive prowess doesn’t rely on power, but rather solid contact, and if Correa plans on making a difference in the Giants’ offense, extra-base hits outside of home runs are going to be the biggest factor. Oracle Park is known for creating triples. There’s literally a section of the field called Triple’s Alley. Correa’s ability to spread the ball around the yard will be beneficial in that regard. However, Correa isn’t really an extra-base hit machine. Since 2020, he’s eighth among shortstops in extra-base hits, despite not missing much time during that span. He’s behind the likes of Trevor Story, Bo Bichette, and Willy Adames.

Apart from the offensive aspects, Correa’s presence in San Francisco raises a pretty peculiar question.

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What happens with Brandon Crawford indeed? Early 2023 lineup projections don’t even have Crawford as a starter. That sounds absurd, right? Why not just put Correa at third or second for a year until Crawford’s contract expires, right? Well, it’s not that simple. The Giants are paying Correa to be their franchise cornerstone. You don’t ask your franchise cornerstone to change positions. If anything, you’d ask Crawford to slide over, even though he’s been with the franchise for years. And that’s exactly what happened.

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Can Crawford play third base? I don’t know. He has literally never played any position other than short. Moving him to second probably would’ve been the better move though, considering they’re both middle infield positions that require much of the same skill set. It also seems pretty easy to transition to. I mean, if Pablo Sandoval can play second base, then Crawford shouldn’t have too many issues, right? Plus, the team’s current second baseman, Thairo Estrada, is about as good with his glove as I am with women — not at all.

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Overall, the Giants’ lineup, even with the additions of Correa and Mitch Haniger, isn’t going to compete with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers for a division title for several years. The Giants’ farm system isn’t up to snuff with the Dodgers’ either and is only ranked slightly higher than the Padres’. As a Giants fan, I was hoping the team would focus more on securing a long-term ace in the starting rotation than securing a franchise hitter. The Giants have made some moves in their rotation, signing free agents Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea to two-year deals each, but neither Stripling nor Manaea is a game-changer like Carlos Rodón was for the team last year. I’d hoped the Giants would put more focus into bringing Rodón back, and while the Giants still have the time and money to make that happen, the odds of a reunion are looking slimmer by the day.

Correa is a phenomenal player, but putting him in a lineup where the biggest threats surrounding him are Haniger, Mike Yastrzemski, and LaMonte Wade Jr. isn’t going to hold a candle to the Juan Soto-led Padres surrounded by Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and Fernando Tatís Jr. or the Mookie Betts-led Dodgers surrounded by Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. This is a long play by the Giants, hoping that they can start competing offensively after a few more years, but the window on Correa’s prime will have already started shrinking by that point. San Francisco has now tied a boatload of money into a player who likely won’t be enough to help the Giants reach the postseason for the next three or so years. That’s the issue. Adding Correa to the Giants’ lineup is like putting lipstick on a pig. Sure, it’s prettier now, but I’m still not kissing it.