The San Francisco Giants were not picked to lead the National League West at the All-Star break at the beginning of the 2021 season, especially with the reigning World Series champion Dodgers and upstart Padres in their division, but after 89 games the Giants have the best record in baseball.
Waiakea graduate Kai Correa is in his second year as San Francisco’s bench coach and infield instructor. He’s seen the team go from afterthought to title contender from the top step of the dugout.
“It’s fun to watch teams evolve and change. Early on we were pretty optimistic with the depth we had in camp and the mix of old and younger players. Then you start the season knowing you’re going to be competitive night in and night out. Then as you go there is this expectation that like ‘hey, we have a good chance every night’ and then that evolves and shifts into we are suppose to win each and every night,” Correa told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida, “It’s been fun to be a part of that change and it’s fun showing up to the ballpark everyday having an expectation to win.”
The Giants are currently 57-32 with a 4-game lead in the N.L. West. They’ve hit the most home runs (132) this season. They have the 2nd best team ERA (3.26) and defensively they are just as sharp. Correa has helped the G-Men to a 2nd best fielding percentage (.987) and tied for the top in defensive efficiency (.721) this season.
“We feeling like part way into last year we really started implementing some new things in terms of system, in terms of how we position, in terms of how we do our pregame work, in terms of some of the drills we’ve implemented. All the credit goes to our guys, our veteran players in terms of being flexible and adapt to bee things.”
Stellar defense, pitching and timely hitting will win you a lot of game, so the days of surprising opponents are over.
“That’s a really important thing to manage, understanding that really good major league teams are still going to lose 60 games. So losing well is also a really big part of being a good team, understanding ‘alright, on to the next one.’ I think since we have so many older players on our team, they do a really good job of winning well and losing well in terms of turning the page and preparing for the next day.”
With 5-0 on his back, there is no questioning where Correa represents. The Big Island native joined the MLB Hawai’i fraternity during last year’s Covid shortened season, so this year is the first time he’s getting to see fellow islanders regularly on the schedule.
“I’ve got a lot of pride representing the state of Hawai’i. It’s a lot of fun. Just about every other series you see a local player across the field so it’s fun to check the box score and see how those guys are doing every night. Isiah [Kiner-Falefa], Kolten [Wong], Kean [Wong], Jordan Yamamoto, all these guys are doing a great job representing our state.”
The Giants begin their second half tomorrow at 2:15 HT in St. Louis against the Cardinals.