Over the past few games, San Francisco Giants slugger Tyler Austin has shown a wide range of skills.
When the San Francisco Giants acquired Tyler Austin, he was an intriguing bat without a defensive home.
The Minnesota Twins designated him for assignment because there were no at-bats to be had at first base or designated hitter, and despite being one of the only power sources on the roster, the Giants have also had trouble finding him regular playing time.
While he was slotted at first base in his Giants debut, with Brandon Belt throwing on an outfielder’s glove and manning left field, the path to more playing time for Austin was always going to be at a corner outfield spot.
The question was whether his offensive contributions would outweigh his defensive shortcomings.
That’s all pretty common knowledge to the San Francisco Giants fan base.
But for the casual fan tuning into the Los Angeles Dodgers series the past few days, Austin has looked like anything but a defensive liability.
On Tuesday, he covered a ton of ground to make a fantastic diving catch:
Then, on Wednesday, he showed off his arm by cutting Justin Turner down trying to leg out a double:
Do the defensive metrics love his play in left field?
His -37.3 UZR/150 speaks a significant lack of range and some of that no doubt stems from getting poor jumps. However, that’s something that should improve with time. After all, he’s only played 98 career innings in left field at the MLB level.
Meanwhile, he hit his sixth home run of the season on Wednesday in 102 plate appearances.
There’s a place for Tyler Austin in the San Francisco Giants long-term plans, provided he can find a way to cut down his strikeout rate and can be at least a serviceable defender in left field.
Even if he only winds up serving as a Mike Morse-type slugger who plays a platoon role against left-handed pitching, his team control through 2023 makes him a player worth further assessment.