Can SF Giants manager Gabe Kapler avoid a trend from the past?

Can SF Giants manager Gabe Kapler avoid a trend from the past?

With a 51-55 overall record and a 3-12 record since the All-Star break, the SF Giants are quickly falling out of playoff contention. If the dive continues, they will be playing non-competitive games in September. Can manager Gabe Kapler reverse a trend from his time with the Phillies?

When Kapler was announced as one of the finalists as the Giants’ next manager. There were many concerns about how he managed the Phillies, especially as the season came to a close.

To be fair, the Giants’ struggles in 2022 extend beyond Kapler. He just uses the players that the front office has pulled together.

It has often been noted that the Giants have one of the worst defenses in baseball based on defensive metrics. They were worth -35 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -31 Outs Above Average (OAA). Regardless of the metric you use, they had the second-worst defense in baseball and the eye test backs that up, as they often miss the cutoff man or fail to handle the routine games.

Is this all Kapler’s fault? Maybe he could come up with a lineup that prioritizes defense more, but this is an organization that places a lot of emphasis on platoon matchups. As such, they are inherently okay with hitting defense if it means making better use of the lineup.

Also, the 40-man roster as a whole doesn’t have many positional players familiar with the glove. They have too many first basemen, corner outfielders, and designated hitters, but not enough players in premium positions like shortstop and center field. This has noticeably exposed her this season.

The bullpen has been another big problem as it has a 4.39 ERA in 2022, which is considered the fifth worst mark in baseball. Is that Kapler’s fault? The front office has been looking for continuity and stability in one of the most volatile areas on the roster, and that plan has backfired.

Bullpen management is very much an outcome-oriented assessment when it should be more process-oriented. Kapler’s handling of the bullpen has been suspicious in certain situations, and it feels like he should have a quicker hook when he notices someone is struggling. At the end of the day, the helpers need to perform better, and they didn’t.

John Brebbia and Jarlin Garcia are a few examples of relievers who have had nice seasons, but it feels like they sometimes struggle to make the most of high-leverage situations. They’re not the reason for the bullpen fights Jake McGee, Jose Alvarezand TylerRogers are down significantly compared to their roles in 2021. It didn’t help one bit how much the defense struggled, so that’s a factor.

What Kapler needs to prevent is a late-season slip. It was something that happened with the Phillies both seasons. In 2018, Philadelphia had a 72-62 record on the last day of August but hobbled to an 8-20 record in the final month of the season while finishing 9 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies for the last wild card spot.

It wasn’t nearly as steep, but the Phillies also experienced a similar downturn in the final month of the 2019 season. On the last day of August, Kapler led Philadelphia to a 69-65 record, but they posted a 12-16 record in September.

They finished eight games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the wild card, so maybe a stellar September didn’t help them. However, when a competitive team like the Phillies slips through both seasons with Kapler as manager in September, one wonders how focused they have been.

It felt like the Phillies hit a wall at the end of the season and never recovered. For better or worse, this is usually a reflection of the manager.

The Giants may not have as strong a record as the Phillies in both seasons with Kapler at the helm. But it’s a trend that’s still relatively fresh and could cause more concern among the fandom if it resurfaces.

The 107-win season seems a long time ago at this point. Fans are disappointed with how the 2022 season has turned out, and that frustration will only increase unless Kapler and the Giants play better baseball on the track.

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