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San Francisco Giants Center Field Expectations Going into Regular Season

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 05: Austin Jackson
SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 05: Austin Jackson /
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SURPRISE, AZ – MARCH 05: Austin Jackson #16 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Texas Rangers during a spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 5, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ – MARCH 05: Austin Jackson #16 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Texas Rangers during a spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 5, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

When the Giants signed Austin Jackson to a two year/$6MM contract, it seemed pretty clear he was probably the frontrunner to be the starting center fielder on opening day. However, then Brian Sabean came out with this statement saying that he was probably not going to be the everyday center fielder.

That would imply that he would be in a timeshare or a fourth outfielder role. Yet adding Blanco on a non-guaranteed minor league deal was the only move they made, who did not have the most inspiring season last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

So far this spring, Jackson has done nothing but impress by hitting .370 with an .896 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) with his typically solid defense.

If nothing else, barring injury, he seems like a shoe-in to receive the lions share of the at bats of the potential center fielders, despite only having 318 plate appearances last season in Cleveland.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the lineup each time the Giants face a lefty starter, but he’s proven to be capable against righties as well. It also certainly helps that there are two left-handed options ahead that can spell him against the tough righty starter when needed.

He doesn’t have the speed that he used to (just five total stolen bases in the past two seasons), and career-wise never carried a strong OBP, so he’s not the ideal candidate at the top of the lineup. Instead, I see him in the bottom third of the lineup, where he certainly won’t hurt the team.

Prediction: Jackson continues to hit as expected throughout the end of spring training, and he breaks camp as the starting center fielder in roughly 75% of games.

Chances of making roster: 100%

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