The San Francisco Giants signed Austin Jackson to bolster their outfield both offensively and defensively. But it’s time to move on.
At the time, it seemed like a great move for the San Francisco Giants. He is a career .274 hitter, made an incredible catch in the postseason last year, and is only 31 years old.
And the Giants only had to pay him $6 million over two years.
But so far this season, Jackson has been anything but productive. In fact, he’s been a black hole on the bench.
Jackson is struggling both at the plate and on defense in 2018. He is hitting just .243 with no home runs and has an OPS of .607.
His WAR is -1.1, and he is striking out at an alarming rate, punching out 56 times in 140 at-bats.
Save a bases-loaded at-bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers and a game-tying double against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it seems in every clutch situation — even with a runner at third and less than two outs — he struggles to make contact.
The defensive metrics aren’t much better.
According to FanGraphs, Jackson’s Ultimate Zone Rating is -7.6, meaning more runs score when the ball is hit to him in the outfield than an average replacement. Metrics also say his range is awful, and so is his arm.
If Jackson isn’t hitting and is not fielding, what value does he have on the Giants bench?
With Hunter Pence also a black hole on the bench, you can’t have two reserve pieces who are giving you nothing.
That’s where Austin Slater comes in.
The 25-year-old outfielder from Stanford has done everything to prove he belongs in the big leagues. At Triple-A Sacramento he is hitting .340 with a .416 on-base-percentage and .981 OPS.
He also has 24 doubles in 191 at-bats.
Slater has proven he can handle the bat in the big leagues. In 128 at-bats, he’s hitting .281 with a .357 on-base percentage. Most of those at-bats came last season when the Giants were in an evaluation year.
He also had one of the longest home runs by a rookie last season–a 461-foot monster in Milwaukee. In fact, it was his first major league home run.
As for his defense, the sabermetrics say Slater is definitely better than Jackson. Last year, he had a UZR of -0.4, which is about average.
So, Slater would be an upgrade both at the plate and on the field.
Some say the Giants wait too long to give their young talent a shot, but if there were ever a time for the Giants to give Slater a chance, it would be now.
Pence and Jackson aren’t giving the team anything, so might as well let some young, fresh legs have a chance to shine.