Who’s Got Left?
Now, for the crux of the discussion. Nearly half of a full calendar year later since the beginning of the offseason, and the San Francisco Giants are no closer to determining who will be the team’s left fielder come Opening Day. Many have taken a crack at arguing for one over the other and vice versa, but only one man has pushed forth the discussion.
During an interview with KNBR, Evans provided insight regarding San Francisco’s mentality with Parker and Williamson going forward:
“Yeah, I don’t know that I want both of them to be on this club,” Evans said. “I really would rather one guy take the job and then maybe one of the veteran guys or other non-roster invites to manage so that he’s the second part to the puzzle. In the case of Williamson, he can go down to Triple-A. If Williamson makes the club as the everyday guy, then Parker would either have to make the club and be a backup — not necessarily a platoon but a backup — or you’d have to put him through waivers, and I don’t see him getting through waivers. I really need him to step up and make this club.”
Here, Evans explicitly states that there is a realistic possibility only one of the Parker and Williamson tandem will find their name on the roster, but he doesn’t necessarily provide insight as to who. The San Francisco Giants are well-aware of this predicament, and ultimately the decision will revolve around a combination of their upcoming spring training performances, contractual matters, and the weight of glaring weaknesses.
A possible factor in determining who stays and who goes revolves around their ability to hit left-handed pitching. Both hit well against right-handed pitching, but while Williamson has proven he can hold his own against southpaws, Parker looks like an entirely different hitter in the worst way imaginable.
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Parker’s shortcomings versus left-handed pitching are glaring and naming him the Opening Day left fielder essentially forces the Giants to bring Ruggiano right along with him to for a quasi-platoon.
Williamson won’t require a platoon, providing San Francisco with a bit more flexibility in roster building, but while Parker has no minor-league options left on his contract, Williamson has some remaining. Evans does not want to deal with the hassle of putting Parker through waivers, putting added pressure on Williamson this upcoming spring to prove he is worth the risk of managing Parker.
Of all the determining elements, past performance at the major and minor league levels ranks further down the list of importance. The San Francisco Giants know full and well that Parker and Williamson have the potential to morph into, at the minimum, solid everyday outfielders with enough power to possibly crank out 20-plus home runs even while playing at AT&T Park for half of their games.For comparison’s sake, Williamson has a career minor-league slash-line of .287/.367/.488 in the minors, while Parker has one of .262/.365/.459.
The only surefire method of determining the Opening Day starter is if either falls victim to injury, but in the event that both Parker and Williamson stay healthy, the decision will remain unknown until the end of spring.