Slugger Chris Shaw once looked like a long-term piece for the San Francisco Giants. Does he have a role on the 2020 team?
The first round of that draft has already produced five All-Star and a slew of impactful contributors at the MLB level, while Shaw has yet to see an opportunity as an everyday player.
After racking up 23 strikeouts in 62 plate appearances during his first taste of MLB action in 2018, he was sent back to Double-A to work on his approach to start the 2019 campaign.
He quickly played his way back to the Triple-A level and went on to set career highs in a number of categories over the full season, hitting .294/.360/.559 with 27 doubles, 28 home runs and 94 RBI in 492 plate appearances.
Even more important than the surface-level numbers, he trimmed his strikeout rate (-11.5%) and raised his walk rate (+2.9%), showing the improved approach the team was looking for when the season began.
It’s no secret that team president Farhan Zaidi is looking to add more power to a lineup that ranked 26th in home runs (167) and 28th in runs scored (678).
So why not give the former first-round pick a chance to show what he can do in 2020?
After leading the team’s entire minor league ranks in both home runs and RBI, he’s earned the opportunity.
Even with the Giants starting to employ more of a platoon approach to filling out the lineup card, Shaw showed in 2019 that he can be productive regardless of who is on the mound.
- vs RHP: 381 PA, .273/.344/.545, 23 HR, 74 RBI
- vs LHP: 131 PA, .319/.374/.521, 5 HR, 20 RBI
The obvious answer to getting Shaw more playing time would be finding a way to trade first baseman Brandon Belt. While he has been used mostly as an outfielder in recent seasons, Shaw began his career as a first baseman, and his -1 DRS in 118 innings in the outfield in the majors paint him as a below-average defender in the grass.
After averaging a home run ever 17.2 at-bats over the last three seasons in the minors, Shaw could be in the in-house answer to the team’s need for more power. Giving him a shot would be a low-risk, high-reward move given his league-minimum salary.
Worst case scenario, if the team were to trade Belt and Shaw were to flop, the position would still be cleared for Buster Posey to make the move once No. 1 prospect Joey Bart is ready.
For now, there’s no clear path to regular playing time for Chris Shaw. But keep an eye on the San Francisco Giants moves this offseason, as he could find his way into a prominent role with a bit of maneuvering.