San Francisco Giants Adding Alen Hanson to the Left Field Experiment
By Jeff Young
The San Francisco Giants made an interesting decision Thursday night. Instead of playing Mac Williamson, Hunter Pence, or Austin Jackson in left field, they went in a different direction.
The San Francisco Giants decided to play Alen Hanson there instead.
Over the past two weeks, Mac Williamson’s hold as the starting left fielder was looking more and more tenuous. Hunter Pence started in his place twice last week, and now Alen Hanson is getting a shot.
Since returning from the disabled list, Williamson is hitting .206 with a .617 OPS. Not exactly earth-shattering numbers.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is going on with Williamson’s swing right now. He just does not look as comfortable in the batter’s box as he was when we saw him earlier this season.
On a brighter note, Williamson is still playing good defense.
As a result, a change may be in the cards. Bruce Bochy wanted to get Hanson’s left-handed bat in the game against the Padres right-handed Tyson Ross. This is not the type of explanation that suggests that this could be a one-time thing.
Rather, it is something we could see more of when the Giants face right-handed pitchers. The Giants do not have a left-handed hitting outfielder with the exception of Alen Hanson.
This does not include Brandon Belt as Belt is not in the mix for regular playing time in left field.
So, it seems the San Francisco Giants are willing to experiment with Hanson in left field.
Without another left-handed hitting outfielder, Hanson could see ample playing time out there. And, this is a good thing.
Mac Williamson has struggled since returning from the disabled list, and the door is open for Hanson to take over.
His experience in the outfield is limited. As a result, Hanson will be learning on the job. It appears that the Giants are willing to let Hanson learn the outfield so long as his bat remains productive.
On the year, Hanson is batting .311 with a .974 OPS. Hanson has never been this type of hitter, so it is fair to wonder when he will regress. However, this may not even happen.
Alen Hanson has a 17.5 percent strikeout rate and a .329 BABIP. After 100 plate appearances, the strikeout rate tends to become a trend. Hanson is exactly in the 100 plate appearance neighborhood.
With a .329 BABIP, Hanson’s numbers are not a result of good luck. Rather, it suggests that his production is sustainable.
The power numbers may be inflated, but the batting average does not look like it will experience a major regression.
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As a result, the San Francisco Giants are finding ways to get Hanson’s bat in the lineup. And, left field seems to be open for the taking. The Giants face a left-handed pitcher tonight in Clayton Richard, and if Hanson starts, that will be telling.