STAT LINE: 62 PAs, .185/.274/.278, 1 HR, 7 RBIs
There was a whole lot of “let the young guys play and develop” this season (and quite frankly, there was a lot of that last year as well). People were digging into their MiLB accounts and throwing out every name in the books to attempt to kick-start the Giants offense- and honestly, who could blame them?
I work in sports talk radio where people love to play General Manager and whenever we would start going down the lineup of the Rivercats, no player would be mentioned more than Chris Shaw. Chris Shaw hits for power. Chris Shaw can play first base over that bum, Brandon Belt. Chris Shaw, Chris Shaw, Chris Shaw.
If you look back at Shaw’s season in the minor leagues, his numbers were not overwhelming - he wasn’t exactly banging on Bochy’s door to get the call-up. This year in Sacramento his final line was .259/.308/.505 with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs over 422 plate appearances. It’s also worth noting that he struck out 144 times, a 34% strikeout percentage (K%). In the big leagues, he struck out 23 times, a 37% strikeout rate. To give you an idea, the guy that everyone complains about striking out too often, you guessed it, Brandon Belt, had a 23% strikeout rate.
In other words, Chris Shaw has some work to do.
That being said, there’s some versatility to him as he can play both first base and left field. And of course, there is nothing more sexy than a potential power hitter, especially when you’re practically gasping for offense and runs. Chris Shaw certainly has appeal, especially to a club like the Giants. I’m guessing this is why Shaw eventually got the call to the show in September.
ROLE ON THE 2018 TEAM: Chris Shaw’s role on the team was simple - give the guy a chance to be face big league pitching, allow the team to evaluate his major-league-readiness, and let’s be honest, to satisfy some of the people who were dead-set on seeing Shaw’s bat in San Francisco sooner rather than later.
Much like Brandon Belt when he first got the call, Shaw was given infrequent and sporadic playing/starting time, and was often used in platoon situation where he would only start against right-handed pitchers. I’m guessing Bruce Bochy and co. didn’t want him to be too exposed so early on in his career since he has a clear weakness from one-side - in the minors he was batting .204 vs. lefties and .276 vs. righties and the trend continued in the majors where he was batting .143 vs. lefties and .191 vs. righties.
In short, I think Shaw’s time on the team was more for the development of the player, and less about “giving them a shot to win”. And hey, he got his first big league homer out of the way too!
I will say, there was something really fun about watching Andy Suarez, Aramis Garcia. Steven Duggar, and Chris Shaw all play on the same field. The future is definitely closer than we think and that leads me to the next section...
ROLE ON THE 2019 TEAM: Based on what the team saw in September, it’s pretty clear that Shaw needs to play every day and that it probably needs to be in Sacramento, at least to start the season. With a new GM and Operations person coming in, it’s hard to predict what moves will be made in terms of trades and where they will prioritize needs but I can see how Shaw could be a very important piece of the puzzle.
I would like to see Shaw cut down on his strikeouts, and even in his ability to just make contact with the ball. With some adjustments, I think Shaw could be a big home run hitter in the park and bring some much needed power to the club.
I feel bad giving a rookie such poor marks and to be fair, it’s not really his fault. I don’t think most rookies come up and immediately kill it and make an impact unless you’re Ronald Acuna Jr., Juan Soto, or even Dereck Rodiguez. As mentioned before, the strikeout and contact rate are really what kills me. He’s got promise, and the future is bright, but I think Shaw needs a little more time in the oven.