Have you ever wondered what makes Giants CEO Larry Baer’s team so unique? The San Francisco Giants have a level of camaraderie among players that is the real glue of the team. As players replace one another in the game, they stop and take a moment to hug each other. As when LaMonte Wade Jr. comes off the pitch, he will take a moment to thank Gabe Kapler and Buster Posey first. These small gestures may seem insignificant, but they are all part of a larger picture—that of a team who truly respect and love each other.
The collaborative nature of Giants baseball has been a central theme throughout 2021. There have been countless moments when fans got real insight into the players’ one-for-all attitude. Most recently is their best record in the majors: 90-50. This success is due to an admirable team effort, with all of the players pulling together to make things work. There was a sign of this last weekend when Wade and Solano both gave game-deciding pinch-hit homers over in Oakland.
“I think this is probably the best clubhouse I’ve been a part of in terms of everybody getting along, everybody being unselfish—and I’ve been a part of some really good clubhouses before,” first baseman Brandon Belt, part of two Giants championship teams, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This kind of chemistry we have is really hard to find, at this level, in this day and age.”
Farhan Zaidi is an analytics man. He started his career with Moneyball A’s, so he is in a great position to lead the Giants to success. While other teams may have overlooked the significance of team chemistry, he has made it a main theme for the San Francisco team. Ensuring that the players click with each other is not merely a bonus. Instead it is part of the central strategy that has given the team win after win this year.
“Everybody all the way from the top on down has played a role in bringing in the right guys,” Brandon Belt told the San Francisco Chronicle. “When they sign guys, they definitely do research on how the guy is as a person. They really have brought in the right guys.”
The Giants coaching staff is relatively new and is only in its second season. That makes this level of team collaboration all the more impressive. Some of the more established players, including Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, took to the new staff immediately, and the rest of the team followed suit.
“One of the things that really strikes me is Gabe’s staff has clearly developed incredible trust with these players, and I’m still not sure how they did it so quickly,” Joan Ryan, a consultant with the Giants and the author of the 2020 book Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But those players bought into this approach, this selflessness. And I say selflessness meaning that they trust that the coaches’ decisions are driven by one thing: How do we win games? It’s not political, it’s not, ‘I like this guy and not that guy,’ or ‘I’m obligated to play this player.’ They got the players to totally commit.”
Right now, the Giants are ahead in the majors with an astounding 208 homers. What’s more, it’s not merely a couple of players carrying the team toward success—it’s a whole team effort. There are 10 players currently with double-digit totals, without anyone hitting a 20 yet. That in itself is a massive triumph.
“We’ve got a lot of guys ready to strap on every day, and if they don’t start, they’re coming off the bench and we’re as good as any team with guys being ready for whatever their assignment is that day,” starter Alex Wood told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’ve got great depth, we don’t give at-bats away ever. Whoever we’re facing, they’re going to have to work to earn their outs. We have a special group, you know? There is no other way to put it.”
About Larry Baer
A San Francisco native, Larry Baer is one of the sporting world’s leading names. He graduated from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School and soon started working in the media industry for Westinghouse Broadcasting and CBS, Inc. He is best known professionally for his illustrious career in Major League Baseball.
Baer became the Executive Vice President of the San Francisco Giants in 1992. In collaboration with the late Peter Magowan, he assembled a new ownership of the group, allowing the Giants to remain in San Francisco. Flash forward to 2012 with Baer becoming the CEO of the team, a position in which he saw great triumph when the Giants won their third World Series Championship the same year he started in that position.
Baer wears many hats with the Giants, also heading up the business development departments. Since he joined the business, the Giants organization has constructed Oracle Park. Hailed by fans as one of the ‘best ballparks ever built,’ the stadium earned Sports Business Journal’s Sports Facility of the Year title in 2018.
Over his career, Baer has also held a variety of posts on Major League Baseball boards such as chairing the Strategic Planning Committee, the Business and Media Board, and the International Committee. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Pam.