SF Giants lose a key architect of their revamped offense

One of the key architects who helped build an offense that led the Giants to a franchise-record 107 wins is leaving the club.

Donnie Ecker, who served as one of the team’s three hitting coaches under manager Gabe Kapler, has accepted a job as the bench coach and offensive coordinator for the Texas Rangers.

Ecker, 35, is a graduate of Los Altos High and joined the organization in December 2019 as one of the first coaches hired under Kapler. He left his role as the Cincinnati Reds’ assistant hitting coach to return to his hometown team, which he considered a dream job.

Ecker and fellow Giants hitting coaches Dustin Lind and Justin Viele have received high praise from players who believed their coaching techniques to be one of the most significant factors in the team’s impressive offensive display over the last two seasons.

In 2021, the Giants set a franchise record with 241 total home runs and a major league record with 18 pinch-hit home runs. The 10 players who finished with a double-digit home run total and 17 players who hit at least five home runs for the Giants this season also represented franchise records.

“Everything we did (in San Francisco), we did together,” Ecker said during a Monday press conference. “Our front office, our scouting, everything we did and still to this day, my favorite piece of analytics is touching home plate. That’s the goal, it’s touching home plate.”

In 2019, the season before Ecker arrived in San Francisco, the Giants ranked 28th in the majors in runs per game, 27th in team OPS and 26th in home runs.

Ecker was often credited for his role in helping veteran players understand how to interpret analytics and data that ultimately informed decisions on when to swing and what pitches represented the best opportunities for hitters to have success against.

Under Ecker’s watch, Brandon Belt (1.015, 2020) and Brandon Crawford (.895, 2021) each set career-highs in OPS while catcher Buster Posey posted an .889 OPS this year that marked his best showing since Posey won the National League MVP in 2012.

Ecker was also consistently mentioned in postgame press conferences by LaMonte Wade Jr., who often said his ninth-inning heroics came from following the plan the Ecker and Viele provided for him.

The Giants are expected to fill the vacancy on their coaching staff in the near future, but Ecker’s departure may also give Viele a chance to step into a bigger role. During games, Ecker was often seen talking with Giants players about their at-bats and preparing them for their next opportunity whereas Viele was tasked with keeping potential substitutes ready in the batting cage below the team’s dugout.

Viele and Lind could take on more visible roles, which would give the organization an opportunity to promote from within, but it’s also possible the Giants use the opening on their staff to pursue a high-profile coach from the outside.

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