Our San Francisco Giants season reviews march on with outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe.
9 games, 18 plate appearances, .143/.333/.143, 0 home runs, 1 RBI, 4 walks to 5 strikeouts
40 OPS+, 59 wRC+, +0.1 rWAR, -0.1 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Basabe started the year on the Chicago White Sox, at their Alternate Training Site, and was designated for assignment on Aug. 4. He was then traded to the Giants on Aug. 9 in exchange for cash. He was recalled near the end of the month for one day, to serve as the 29th player in a doubleheader.
He was recalled again on Sept. 8, and stayed on the roster until being placed on the Injured List a few days before the season ended with a hamstring injury.
If, in July, I were to hand you a list of the 45 players who suited up for the Giants this year, and ask you to tell me which was most surprising, you would quite likely point to Basabe.
Basabe is one of only three Giants who wasn’t in the organization when the season started. The other two weren’t all that surprising: Justin Smoak is a formerly good veteran that they took a flier on, and Daniel Robertson is a toolsy somewhat positionless infielder who got squeezed off a great roster by one of baseball’s best teams. Those have Farhan Zaidi written all over them.
But Basabe was simply an outfield prospect hanging out on the White Sox 40-man roster, until they decided he wasn’t worth keeping.
So the Giants scooped him, and even as they did I didn’t anticipate him playing this season.
But play he did, and in his short stint he showed a lot of signs of promise. The sample size is extremely small, but he drew 4 walks in just 18 plate appearances, which is as many as Joey Bart and Chadwick Tromp drew combined in 175 plate appearances. It’s four times as many walks as fellow unproven outfielder Steven Duggar drew in twice as many plate appearances.
We know Zaidi — and baseball in general — loves walks, so that patience and plate discipline is encouraging. And it’s aided by the fact that Basabe was able to steal two bases without being caught during his short tenure.
Basabe didn’t get enough time in the outfield for us to be able to really evaluate him at all, but he did have a highlight play at least.
He also didn’t get enough playing time to evaluate his bat, so we shouldn’t read into the .143 batting average and slugging percentage. With that said, Fangraphs gives him a 35/45 hit tool grade and he hit below league average in AA in 2019. So some pessimism is warranted as to whether or not the 24-year old switch hitter can perform well enough to stick.
But all things considered, it was an encouraging debut season for Basabe, when no one expected to see him. And we got to see an MLB debut, and a first career hit, and those always put a smile on our face.
Plus, he got to be reunited with his cousin, Giants prospect Luis Matos, and gets to play in the same division as his twin brother, Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Luis Alejandro Basabe.
Role in 2021
Basabe has yet to appear in AAA, and still ranks as just the No. 29 prospect in the Giants farm, per Fangraphs. It seems likely that Zaidi and Scott Harris want to get him some more developmental time.
Still, it also became clear that he rose up the team’s internal board pretty quickly. Basabe got two call-ups, and eventually stuck, while Chris Shaw never got the phone call, and Jaylin Davis never returned after the first week. Basabe seemed to be ahead of those two, as well as Duggar, on the depth chart at season’s end.
So if he has a good camp and a good start in Sacramento, he could be a factor on the roster next year. With exceptional speed, the ability to hit from both sides of the plate, and a cannon for an arm, he has the tools to be a strong fourth or fifth outfielder.
There’s no way to properly grade a player who played such a short amount of time, and wasn’t particularly good but also shouldn’t have been expected to be good. So I’ll go with...
How would you grade Luis Alexander Basabe’s season?
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