Something I think about a lot: Just how excited we would be about Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker in another era. Finally, the Giants are just letting the kids* play. Finally, there are no Steve Finleys or Randy Winns to block our sweet, sweet John Bowkers and Dan Ortmeiers and Fred Lewii. We would have been so excited.
And here we are, grumble-moaning about the Giants going with their in-house options in left field. They’re finally giving the kids* a chance to shine, and we’re worried that they’re too unproven. We’ve changed, man. We’ve become the oppressors.
* Note: Jarrett Parker is older than Hector Sanchez. You’re welcome.
As one of the attendants on the J.D. Martinez bandwagon, passing out peanuts and taking drink orders, I’m as guilty as anyone. But I would like to point out one thing before moving on.
Mac Williams son
Mac Williams’ son
Matt Williams’ son
No. No, that’s not what I wanted to point out, sorry. I would like to compare Mac Williamson to a mystery player. This is a hoary old trick, and it’s not entirely predictive or instructive, but it’s fun, and it helps me prove a point.
It's not a perfect comparison, but this isn’t supposed to be a vision of Williamson’s future. It’s just a stray thought that I’m sharing with you because all of the rumormongers are on a plane somewhere. This is a fun conversation starter.
Ｍｙｓｔｅｒｙ ｐｌａｙｅｒhas more power, but not that much more. Williamson has a better eye, but not that much better. Perhaps most importantly, Ｍｙｓｔｅｒｙ ｐｌａｙｅｒstayed healthy and got the equivalent of more than two full seasons’ worth of plate appearances because he could stay healthy (and because he stuck around in the minors until he was 26, a year longer than Williamson.)
That would be Adam Duvall, 2016 All-Star and the modern Zack Wheeler for Giants fans who like to complain about trades gone bad. There are a lot of reasons to hate a Duvall/Williamson comparison, including but not limited to ...
- Duvall showed more power at every level
- Williamson is more athletic and had a clear position in the minors
- Duvall’s .231/.306/.434 second half is probably more realistic than his .249/.288/.551 first half, if only because there have been just four batters in history who kept that kind of first-half pace up for an entire season
- Williamson showed more in his brief time with the Giants
- They’re ... they’re completely different people
- You know that, right?
Still, if the players aren't perfectly comparable, at least the situations are. If Duvall were on the Giants last year, there’s just about no way he would be the unquestioned starter heading into this season. That alternate timeline never made sense to me. There just wasn’t a chance that he was going to get regular at-bats, and if he were on the Giants last year, he would have picked up 100 to 200 at-bats, maybe. We'd still be oblivious to what he could do.
The 2017 season could be the opposite of this, and it reminds us that there’s value in figuring out what a young, pre-arbitration outfielder (or two of them, in this case) can do. If one of Williamson or Parker works out, the Giants will have an low-cost outfielder for years. Goodness, how that would help when it came to future rosters.
The downside is much different than the one the Reds were staring at. The downside for the Giants is that a poor performance from Williamson and Parker might cost them the division. No one would be surprised by a division that’s separated by a single game. The downside for the Reds when it came to starting Duvall was that he could have wasted their time for a couple months. The stakes are much, much higher with the Giants. Which is why I’m all about Martinez.
It’s worth remembering, though, that there’s upside in the decision to explore the young outfielders. It’s not all risk. It’s not all a missed opportunity. The last time the Giants developed a power-hitting outfielder, he thrived with regular playing time. It just wasn’t with the Giants. Regular playing time for Williamson and Parker should help them, and while I’m especially curious about Williamson, it sounds like Bruce Bochy is curious about Parker:
What I do like about Parker is he cut back on the strikeouts, he laid off on some of those secondary pitches down below the strike zone and did a better job of that.
Among qualified hitters, only Chris Davis, Chris Carter, Mike Napoli, and Alex Gordon struck out in a higher percentage of their plate appearances than Parker did (29 percent). That’s why I’m leaning toward Williamson in these discussions, but your mileage may vary.
Either way, I’m excited that Williamson and/or Parker will get a chance to prove themselves, which is a chance Duvall would have never had here. Don’t get me wrong: I would be more excited for the Giants to get a proven outfielder. But my excitement isn’t a zero-sum game, dang it.
I just hope the Giants know what they’re doing, because it looks awful risky from here. Sometimes risks can be a lot of fun, though. The Reds took one with their left fielder last year and it panned out. Now it’s the Giants’ turn. Hopefully.