For much of the 2019 season, Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski shared the same outfield for the Giants.
Together, the pair shared the team lead for home runs with 21 apiece while Yastrzemski led San Francisco in slugging percentage (.518) and Pillar finished second right behind him in that category (.448).
In short, the two outfielders put together really solid seasons at the plate last year and they were able to forge a friendship out of it.
Just recently, Pillar reached out to Yastrzemski, who turned 30 on Sunday, to not only wish him a happy birthday via text, but to support the Andover native’s MVP case as well.
In case you have not been paying too much attention to the National League West this year, Yastrzemski entered Wednesday with a robust .293/.410/.612 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 23 RBI through the first 31 games of what is his first full big-league season.
With those numbers in mind combined with the fact that the 2020 campaign has already reached its halfway point, Yastrzemski looks like a legitimate NL MVP candidate, and as previously mentioned, Pillar let his former teammate know that the other day.
“I’ve talked to him as recently as two days ago. It was his birthday, I wished him a happy birthday,” Pillar said Wednesday in regards to his conversation with Yastrzemski. “We talked a little bit back and forth and I told him to go win the MVP and he answered very simply with ‘I’m going for it.’ And that’s the mindset he has and he believes in himself. He knows he’s a really good baseball player and he’s going out there showing the world everyday that he has the confidence and swagger to back it up. He truly believes he can be an MVP this season and I wish him nothing the best.”
In their brief time as teammates, Pillar may have seen a little bit of himself in Yastrzemski considering both were late-round draft picks out of college and both were traded away by their original organizations right around the same time last spring.
“He’s a perfect example of a guy that persevered through so much in the minor-leagues and maybe a lack of respect from some organizations or from numbers,” Pillar continued. “Whatever the reason was he wasn’t getting an opportunity in the big-leagues, he finally got it. It’s a perfect example of someone given an opportunity and running with it.”
Because he only made his major-league debut with San Francisco last year, Yastrzemski will not reach free agency until after the 2015 season, at which point the Vanderbilt product would already be 35 years old. That being said, Pillar is hopeful Yastrzemski can get paid soon.
“Hopefully, the Giants see what everyone else is seeing and hopefully, I know he’s a little bit older and younger in service time, hopefully he gets the opportunity to go out there and make some money for his family because he definitely deserves it. He’s shown he’s one of the best players in baseball right now and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The grandson of Red Sox legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Yaz homered at Fenway Park in his first trip to Boston as a major-leaguer last September.