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Is Ehire Adrianza really too valuable to give up?

The Giants have spent a couple years making sure they don't expose Ehire Adrianza to waivers. Is it worth it?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It turns out that Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker are pretty good. WAR isn’t so sure about their defense just yet, but both of them overcame slow starts to become a nice two-headed outfield monster of dingers and patience at just the right time. The loss of Hunter Pence would have hurt that much more if they weren’t around, and Giants fans should thank them.

Their reward? Parker gets to hang out in Sacramento, and if Williamson weren’t hurt, he probably would have joined him. It was always going to be one or the other, considering that the Giants weren’t keen on keeping six outfielders, but now they’re both off the roster. And they were likely to both hang out in Triple-A until September for a simple reason: Ehire Adrianza is out of options, and the Giants don’t want to lose him.

This either makes perfect sense to you, or it drives you bonkers. Let’s figure out which side to take.

Adrianza is ...

  1. 27 years old in two weeks
  2. A fine defensive shortstop
  3. A nice hitter, but only because his career OPS+ in the majors is 69
  4. A career .254/.338/.357 hitter in the minors
  5. A career .311/.391/.431 hitter in Triple-A
  6. A switch-hitter

It’s quite a cocktail of potential value and red flags. The career minor league line makes me wary, but then you see the Triple-A line, and think ... saaaaaay. There’s a little contact, a little patience, even a little pop. And defensive-minded shortstops who don’t embarrass themselves at the plate aren’t as common as you might think. It’s like my dad always said, "If you fritter away defensive-minded shortstops who don’t embarrass themselves at the plate, son, you’ll end up starting Brian Bocock on Opening Day."

What do those numbers mean in context? The average hitter in the Pacific Coast League is hitting .270/.338/.418 this year, which means that Adrianza generally hits for a higher average than the typical PCL hitter, and he gets on base a whole lot more, but his isolated slugging isn’t quite as impressive, as you might expect. Don’t forget, though, that these averages include the stats from ridiculous hitting environments like Las Vegas, Salt Lake, and Colorado Springs. Adrianza playing in the relatively mild Sacramento (and Fresno) didn’t help his raw numbers.

If he were matching his career Triple-A numbers this year, the OBP would be in the top-30 of the league, though his OPS would be just outside the top 50. Still, did we mention that he’s at least an average defensive shortstop? That seems important. If we’re going to pay more attention to his 400 PA in Triple-A than whatever happened more than three years ago (which seems rational), it seems like he might be a pretty okay hitter for his level.

The trick is seeing those results in the majors, or at least knowing what to expect. The only Major League Equivalency Calculator I can find these days is the archived version on a defunct site. It won’t have the current league averages, so it’s quite imperfect, but it’s better than nothing. Plugging those Triple-A numbers in for Adrianza gives us a .261/.331/.359 major league line. Which isn’t great, but it would be ahead of five starting shortstops (more than 100 games played). It’s roughly equivalent to what Asdrubal Cabrera has done for the Mets this year.

This isn’t to suggest that Adrianza is a diamond in the rough, at least in a way that we weren’t already aware of. This isn’t about to reach the shocking conclusion that the Giants should trade Brandon Crawford for Jake Odorizzi. It’s just me talking to myself, wondering how rare and/or valuable a shortstop like this is.

I’m not going to suggest that this is something we should always expect, either:

It’s very fun to remember! But not something we should expect. Before going on the DL, though, Adrianza was driving the ball well, just like he did in the spring. Just like he did in his rehab assignment in San Jose (five homers!). I think I could buy a true talent level that translates to a .330 on-base percentage with a sprinkling of doubles.

Which is to say, I get it. Parker (or Kelby Tomlinson) probably helps this roster more as currently constructed, but I’d rather be dinger-hungry and keep a reasonable shortstop option in a glass case for the next couple years than make do with whatever’s laying around. The more I think about it, the more I’m on board with the reasons the Giants are awkwardly stuffing Adrianza onto the 25-man roster just so they won’t lose him.

Adrianza is starting at second on Friday night, and this post guarantees that he’ll go 0-for-4 with an error, so i apologize for that. But he was a forgotten man after his injury, and so it’s easy to downplay just how useful he might be one day. Here’s a reminder. If the Giants are relying on Adrianza to be useful, they’ll have some serious problems to worry about.

He’ll probably make those problems just a little less serious, though. That’s about all you can ask, and you’ll certainly miss it if it’s not there when you need it.