The San Francisco Giants had high hopes for the power-hitting outfielder Mac Williamson.
After dazzling with Giancarlo Stanton-like home runs early last season, the San Francisco Giants thought they finally found their desperately-needed power bat. Williamson had revamped his swing after working with Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner‘s hitting coach.
It appeared to work–until the concussion happened. As Williamson chased a fly ball towards the Giants’ bullpen in left field, he hit his head against the side wall as he slid for the ball.
He was never the same hitter after that, finishing 2018 with a dismal .213 average in 94 at-bats. He hit four home runs on the year but did not hit a single one after his concussion.
Fast-forward to spring training 2019, and the result isn’t much better. Williamson, who is out of options, is hitting .237 with just one home run in 59 at-bats. He’s slugging just .322 and has an on-base percentage of .274.
What’s particularly worrisome about Williamson is his high ground ball percentage this spring. His revamped, uppercut swing was supposed to counteract this, but he’s still hitting a ground ball 69 percent of the time. That’s way too high for someone with as much power as Williamson. This had been a problem throughout his career–and continues to be once again.
More from Around the Foghorn
- SF Giants: 2021 team is approaching franchise milestone
- SF Giants: Brandon Belt is a qualifying offer candidate
- SF Giants: Outfielder Ka’ai Tom signed to minors deal
- SF Giants: Reliever Reyes Moronta clears outright waivers
- SF Giants sign veteran 1B John Nogowski to minor league deal
Williamson is 28 years old and his window to be a major leaguer seems to be all but closed. With the season beginning on Thursday in San Diego, he hasn’t shown much potency with the bat.
Despite his age and struggles of late, Williamson may still be given a chance as the Opening Day left fielder against Padres’ lefty Joey Lucchesi. The Giants haven’t announced a decision one way or another, so anything is possible at the moment.
But not so fast.
The Giants recently added Connor Joe from the Cincinnati Reds and Michael Reed from the Minnesota Twins. Both have had success recently in the minor leagues but haven’t hit much in the limited spring training action they’ve seen with the Giants.
Last year, Joe hit .299 with 17 home runs in 364 at-bats between AA and AAA. He had an on-base percentage of .408 and an OPS of .935. Joe can also play all around the infield and the outfield, showing versatility that Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi likes. He’ll get every opportunity to show he belongs with the Giants since as a Rule 5 draftee, he’ll have to be offered back to the Dodgers (who traded him to the Reds) if the Giants decide not to keep him on the major league roster.
In 2018, Reed hit .342 with 11 home runs in 333 at-bats–also between AA and AAA. He had an impressive .453 on-base percentage and .972 OPS.
If Williamson is given the job, he’ll have to perform or the Giants will probably waive him as they did with Jarrett Parker, another outfielder with lots of power who could not make enough consistent contact.
And unlike year’s past, the Giants have more depth in their minor league system to replace Williamson if his season starts to go south.