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Season review: Joe McCarthy


San Francisco Giants v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Next up on the San Francisco Giants season reviews is the man you’ve all been waiting for: outfielder Joe McCarthy.

Season stats

4 games, 10 plate appearances, .000/.000/.000, .000 OPS, 0 home runs, 0 RBI, 0 walks to 5 strikeouts

-100 OPS+, -100 wRC+, -0.4 rWAR, -0.3 fWAR

Status throughout the season

McCarthy made the Opening Day roster, and was optioned on July 30 when Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt returned from the Injured List. He was designated for assignment on Aug. 20 to make room on the 40-man roster for Joey Bart, then was reassigned to the Alternate Training Site on Aug. 27 after clearing waivers.

Season review

I’m not sure where to start with Joe McCarthy, other than to point out to those of you who are new that no, he’s not that Joe McCarthy, and no he’s not that Joe McCarthy either.

McCarthy, like seemingly many other fringe players on the Giants, came to San Francisco via the Tampa Bay Rays, in a trade during the 2019 season. In 182 plate appearances with the Rays AAA affiliate in 2019, McCarthy hit just .196/.335/.385. Then, in 89 plate appearances with the Giants AAA affiliate, he hit only .165/.247/.241.

So naturally when Opening Day rolled around in 2020, there was McCarthy, sitting there not only on the roster, but in the lineup.

If McCarthy’s inclusion on the roster was surprising, his struggles should not have been. While he still ranks as an OK prospect (Fangraphs has him with a future value of 40+), there really wasn’t much reason to think he was ready for the big leagues after his disastrous 2019.

And it showed. He had 10 plate appearances, and reached base no times. He struck out in half of his plate appearances. He had swinging strikes in eight of the 39 pitches he saw. He had a 42.9% chase rate. And a 91.8 mph ground out was the only ball he put in play that had a harder exit velocity than the league average.

Now, sifting through his stats is akin to mining a one square inch plot of land. There’s really not much you can gain from looking at 10 plate appearances, but it’s all we’ve got.

Ultimately, if this is all we see of McCarthy in a Giants jersey, we’ll be left with two things to think about.

  1. Can we remember him in two years when we try to answer a Sporcle quiz about the 2020 Giants?
  2. Maybe a handedness advantage isn’t so important that you should start someone who should be in the Minor Leagues against the best team in baseball just because he’s a lefty.

McCarthy was always a stopgap until the left-handed bat of Belt was healthy enough to be activated, but I’m not sure that was a good enough reason to actually treat him like a platoon starter in Belt’s absence.

Role in 2021

The Giants did express that they’re still high on McCarthy, and there are reasons to be. Despite his rough 2019, he hit .269/.377/.513 in 191 AAA plate appearances in 2018. He projects to be a good defensive player, and he has some untapped power. If they can do the thing they did to Mike Yastrzemski to McCarthy, even just a little bit, they’ll be in fine shape.

Still, he’ll likely have to prove it in Sacramento before he’s back at the MLB level. But he’ll be in the mix to be a part of that 2021 outfield shuffle that we all know is coming.


You can give him an F if you’d like. But I have to give him...



How would you grade Joe McCarthy’s season?

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