San Francisco Giants Will Need Austin Slater 2020 Re-Emerge

Austin Slater, San Francisco Giants outfielder, put in career performances last season, despite being shortened by COVID-19. Slater’s ability to pitch right-handed was the biggest improvement in 2020.

Slater’s performance against left-handed pitching has been impressive this season. However, he is not able to match his 2020 level against right-handed pitching and has been reduced to a platoon position. Slater may lose some of his playing time if he is not able to be more productive in right-handed pitching with the help of Kris Bryant and Evan Longoria.

He also found himself in the same position as fellow outfielder Alex Dickerson. class=”color-link” data-ga-track=”InternalLink:https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesposner/2021/07/19/the-san-francisco-giants-alex-dickerson-could-provide-boost-down-home-stretch/?sh=566a71bc133a” href=”https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesposner/2021/07/19/the-san-francisco-giants-alex-dickerson-could-provide-boost-down-home-stretch/?sh=566a71bc133a” target=”_self” title=”https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesposner/2021/07/19/the-san-francisco-giants-alex-dickerson-could-provide-boost-down-home-stretch/?sh=566a71bc133a”>He also finds himself in a similar position with fellow outfielder Alex Dickerson. Both players may find themselves as the odd man out when the team returns to full health. There is still one Minor League option. Slater is a young player with team control experience that could make him one of the first to be sent down in case the roster crunch occurs.

Dickerson and Slater share a striking similarity in that both struggle to strike right-handed pitching, leaving the Giants in an awkward spot. Dickerson’s surprising reverse splits against left-handed pitching this season may be a sign that he is finally starting to get out of his slump. Slater, on the other hand has been very ineffective against right-handed pitching throughout his career except for 2020.

Before injuries curtailed his speed, Austin Slater had a great season in 2020. “A aria-label”: He has also made himself a popular figure by changing his swing and body to make the best of his natural bat-to-ball skills. class=”color-link” data-ga-track=”InternalLink:https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesposner/2020/02/16/the-san-francisco-giants-are-hoping-to-weaponize-austin-slater-in-2020/?sh=6c35a539303a” href=”https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesposner/2020/02/16/the-san-francisco-giants-are-hoping-to-weaponize-austin-slater-in-2020/?sh=6c35a539303a” target=”_self” title=”https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesposner/2020/02/16/the-san-francisco-giants-are-hoping-to-weaponize-austin-slater-in-2020/?sh=6c35a539303a”>He has also endeared himself to fans by transforming his body, swing, and approach in order to get the most out of his innate bat to ball skills. He produced a 106 wRC+ against RHP in 2020 and is posting just a 50 wRC+ vs RHP this season. He was unable to replicate the feat against right-handed pitching in 2020. However, it is not because he didn’t try.

The main difference between Austin Slater’s setup and his subsequent swing, from 2020 to 2021 season, is that he has slowly brought it closer to average than last year. He was slightly less open with his setup in 2020. This is thought to have helped the batter better track the ball and allowed him to better hit within the same-handed pitchers’ pitches.

He felt that moving closer to the even mark could help him, but he struggled this season. A hitter who returns to even is usually trying to decrease eye movement or make it easier for them to find better timing. Slater is not using either of these strategies this season.

Another noticeable change in Slater’s swing this year is that his hand positioning has been slightly better and that his barrel tilt when he swings is less than it was back in 2020. The numbers show that this seems to have a negative impact on his swing. He has a 13.9% increase in his GB%, his average launch angle of 4.6 degrees is lower and he struggles to barrel the ball as often as he did last year.

Slater has a flatter and more transverse bat path, which results in a lower swing with less loft. It also affects the barrel’s length and how long it stays in the zone. This could be the key to 2020 Austin Slater’s success.

The addition of Kris Bryant, Brandon Belt’s return and Evan Longoria’s return could make 2020 Austin Slater a significant addition to the San Francisco Giants lineup heading into the final stretch. While the Giants remain one of baseball’s best offenses, they have one less bat to be the greatest offense in the league heading into the last months of the season.

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