Fresh off a franchise-best 107-win season, nobody expected the San Francisco Giants to repeat as NL West champs in 2022. The departures of key players such as Buster Posey, Kris Bryant, and Kevin Gausman were going to be difficult to overcome. The Giants managed to replace Gausman by acquiring Carlos Rodón in free agency and the team hoped former second overall draft pick Joey Bart would be a suitable replacement for Posey. The team never tried to replace Bryant. Rodón has been great. Bart not so much, and that’s sort of been exemplary of the Giants’ season thus far. The Giants’ pitching staff has been phenomenal, but their offense has failed to recapture the magic of 2021, largely in part due to their lack of home runs.
In 2021, the Giants finished the regular season second in MLB in home runs (241; Toronto: 262). In 2022 though, the Giants are currently 12th with just 25. They’re averaging almost one home run per game, which is good, but nowhere near what the Giants need in order to contend. The home run threat is what made the Giants offense hum last season. They struck out a lot (ninth-most in MLB in 2021), but made up for it with their ability to produce round-trippers. That’s no longer the case in 2022.
The team is still striking out at around the same clip (23.6 percent in 2021, 23.1 percent in 2022), but their home run rate has dropped off the table, from 3.9 percent in 2021 (third-highest in MLB), to just 2.6 percent this year. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had a career year last season at 34 years old, had 24 homers but just 2 home runs this year. Brandon Belt has 4 and utility man Wilmer Flores has 2. Outfielder Darin Ruf has yet to hit a home run at all. The only players whose home run rates have increased in 2022 and have played 20 or more games for the team this year are Austin Slater (only a .2 percent increase, but it counts) and Joc Pederson, who is yet to get a hit in 14 at-bats since his short stint on the bench nursing an adductor strain in late April. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Giants have lost six of seven since Pederson was forced to miss time. Oh, they’ve also averaged just 3.29 runs in that span, which would be the fourth-worst mark in MLB ahead of only the Royals, Tigers, and lowly Reds. Yikes!
You can blame the vastness of Oracle Park as much as you want, but the team has played 13 games at home and 13 on the road this year while scoring only two more runs away from home than in Oracle, so it’s clearly not a plague limited to the San Francisco city limits.
The Giants are a team built to succeed on the well-roundedness of their lineup and the ability to hit the long ball. The team has been figured out during their five-game losing streak. During the team’s first 18 games of the season (in which they went 13-5), they had hit 21 home runs. Despite their low walk rate and high stranded runners rate during that stretch, they were winning because they were able to drop bombs. Since then, they’ve hit just five home runs. They’re 1-7 and currently sit at fourth place in the NL West, only a half game ahead of last-place Arizona. Even with the extra wild card team in 2022, the Giants’ road to the postseason is difficult, and unless they get the long ball going again, they won’t even come close this year.