The Kapler Factor: The San Francisco Giants Secret Weapon

APRIL 11: Manager Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants receives his award for being named the National League Manager of the Year
APRIL 11: Manager Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants receives his award for being named the National League Manager of the Year

If you look up and down the lineup of the San Francisco Giants, you see no big bats or arms you would expect from a 107-win team. But the Giants picking up right where they left off with a 12-5 record.

The roster has remained much of the same. In fact, there have been more key subtractions than additions to this lineup with the departures of Kris Bryant and Kevin Gausman. Yet, the team continues to defy all odds.

What exactly is the secret to the Giants' success? Look no further than the dugout for Gabe Kapler, the team's secret weapon. Today, we take a glimpse into the mastermind behind the most successful Giants team in franchise history. Here are a few of his key traits that make the Giants a beast to be reckoned with throughout Major League Baseball.

The "Wear-Down" Offensive Approach

APRIL 24: Luis Gonzalez #51 of the San Francisco Giants drives in two runs with a single
APRIL 24: Luis Gonzalez #51 of the San Francisco Giants drives in two runs with a single

In Muhammed Ali's day, it was the rope-a-dope that wore his opponents down. For the 2022 Giants, it is deep counts and contact hitting.

"Our bunts were excellent. We've continued to look for opportunities to change the defense and have baserunners." - Gabe Kapler

For Kapler, a "team win" is much more than situational awareness. It's the ability to force opponents to change. He's not referring to just bunting, but situational bunting based on your opponent's defensive shifts. This briefly displays Kapler's unique understanding of working the arms and defenses of his opponent.

By infusing such tactics with a patient approach from his hitters, Kapler and the Giants wear down the opposition. They force pitchers to come into the zone with a patient hitter’s eye.

This is a method that gives players opportunities to see better pitches throughout the count. Usually the latter is a method only the greatest hitters can utilize, but Kapler has his players disciplined and meticulously trained. All of these factors combined create a potent offense that again ranks among the top of the league in home runs (4th).

Bullpen and Starter Management

Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the San Francisco Giants signals the bullpen to make a pitching change
Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the San Francisco Giants signals the bullpen to make a pitching change

The backbone of this Giants team throughout the course of Kapler's tenure continues to be pitching. The biggest reason for the Giants' bullpen and rotation success is his management of the various arms.

Kapler does perhaps the best job in the majors of balanicing pitching changes and maintaining confidence in whoever is on the mound. It's no fluke or accident that the Giants don't give up many runs. Kapler never leaves a pitcher in long enough to get into too many jams with runners on base.

San Francisco Giants Culture

The San Francisco Giants celebrate after a 12-3 victory against the Washington Nationals
The San Francisco Giants celebrate after a 12-3 victory against the Washington Nationals

In Kapler's culture, hitters have an unselfish approach to hitting, pitching and base running. When a coach can convince a team to set personal statistics and accolades aside, players see the game differently.

Every defensive shift, every at-bat and every adjustment becomes an opportunity to exploit your opponent's weaknesses. Whether it's executing a bunt or launching a sacrifice fly to get a runner in from third, Kapler instills a selfless winning mindset in his players. In his own words, this selfless mentality is what he looks for in a player as demonstrated by the quote about newcomer Joc Peterson below.

"He's just been an unselfish teammate which is what we talked a lot about last year." -Gabe Kapler on Joc Pedersons impact.

It's wonder they're such a tight-knit group with the selfless approach to the game.

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Edited by Jason Birkelbach