Next up on the San Francisco Giants season reviews: outfielder Jaylin Davis.
Four games, 12 plate appearances, .167/.167/.417, .583 OPS, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 0 walks to 6 strikeouts
54 OPS+, 49 wRC+, -0.1 rWAR, -0.1 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Davis made the Opening Day roster, but was optioned to the Alternate Training Site after one week. He never returned.
Of the 45 players who donned a Giants jersey this season, Davis is the hardest one for me to judge. Everywhere you look for optimism you find a compelling counterpoint, and everywhere you look for pessimism you find a compelling counterpoint as well. His season was the epitome of “both sides have good points,” and for the first time in 2020 you can say that without it being utter bull.
Let’s workshop some examples:
Optimistic point: He was only given 12 plate appearances, so we can’t really judge his lack of performance because the sample size is too small.
Pessimistic counterpoint: He was optioned to make room for Steven Duggar, and then he stayed in Sacramento while the team called up Luis Alexander Basabe and Joey Rickard and Basabe again and Duggar again.
Pessimistic point: The Giants were so low on him that they opted for many questionable players over him, and publicly noted that he needed to make contact improvement if he wanted to have a big league career.
Optimistic counterpoint: The Giants were also high enough on him that they thought he should be on the Opening Day roster.
Optimistic point: Even in his limited playing time he managed to have an impressive home run, and off the Dodgers no less!
Pessimistic counterpoint: He struck out in half of his plate appearances.
More than anything, I find myself annoyed when I think of Davis’ season, through no fault of his own. Davis, along with fellow Opening Day outfielder turned July 30 option Joe McCarthy, represented yet another bizarrely short leash from the Giants.
It was the second year in a row that the Giants had a pair of Opening Day outfielders who were dismissed after about a dozen plate appearances, and then not seen from for the rest of the year.
Davis is unlikely to go the way of McCarthy — or Connor Joe or Michael Reed, for that matter — as I’m guessing he stays in the organization for a while. But it’s still weird and frustrating and rather inexplicable.
It’s not like these outfielders are being added in the middle of the season to try and catch lightning in a bottle. They’re making the Opening Day roster, supposedly because they’re considered the best option available (though it’s worth noting that McCarthy was pretty clearly there because Brandon Belt was injured, and his option coincided with Belt’s activation). And then they’re told to pack their bags after 10 lackluster plate appearances.
If the Giants were as low on him as they seemed to be in September when justifying yet another Duggar call-up, why was he on the roster on Opening Day to begin with?
I thought that was a topic for another day, but apparently that day is today, since I don’t really have much of a Davis season to talk about. So instead, let’s just watch his home run. It was really pretty.
Role in 2021
Davis will get his chance in Spring Training and in the farm to prove that he should be in the mix in the Giants outfield. But his window of opportunity is shrinking. Austin Slater had a spectacular year, Darin Ruf played very well and will likely be retained, Basabe was added to the mix, and Heliot Ramos is a year closer. And Davis is already 26, so it’s not like he’s a fresh out of college prospect.
He still has a lot of potential thanks to his power, defense, and athleticism, and it’s not a fluke that Fangraphs ranks him as the team’s number 10 prospect. If he can make a dent in his contact issues, he’ll be a major part of the 2021 roster. If not, he’ll be a Sacramento staple.
It could go either way.
I remain higher on Davis than most, but his inability to work his way back to the MLB roster feels like a fairly strong indictment.
How would you grade Jaylin Davis’ season?
This poll is closed