SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — One hole the San Francisco Giants were poised to fill this offseason was left field, vacated by the oft-injured Angel Pagan.
The Giants lacked power in left last year–and overall in their lineup. San Francisco left fielders ranked third-to-last in the National League in home runs with 14 last season. Overall, the Giants were also third-to-last in the league in team home runs with only 130.
Despite the lack of pop, they did not sign a big-time bat fans hoped for.
Instead, the Giants opted to go with two internal candidates, who are high on power but low on average. There was speculation Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker would platoon in left field, squashing fans’ hopes of an established power outfielder like Yoenis Cespedes, who ended up re-signing with the New York Mets.
But Giants General Manager Bobby Evans told KNBR’s (and KRON4’s) Gary Radnich and Larry Kreuger Tuesday he does not envision a shared left field role.
“I don’t know if I want both of them to be on this club,” Evans said. “I really would rather have one guy take the job and then maybe one of the veteran guys or other non-roster invitees come in and show that he’s the second part of the puzzle.”
The problem? Neither outfielder has proven they can hit consistently in the majors.
Last season, Parker hit just .236, but with six home runs in 127 at-bats. Williams hit only .223, with six home runs in 112 at-bats.
And the splits are more troubling for the lefty Parker, who must prove he can hit both lefties and righties if he wants the everyday job.
Against lefties, Parker hit .108, with 15 strikeouts in 37 at-bats in 2016.
Williamson, a righty, hit .239 in 46 at-bats against righties last season. Oddly, he hit worse against lefties, .212 in 66 at-bats.
The Giants signed former playoff hero Michael Morse and former Dodger Justin Ruggiano to minor league deals in hopes of solidifying the team’s depth.
Evans also indicated either Parker or Williamson, whoever does not get the starting job, could become a backup outfielder or be sent down to the minors.
“In the case of Williamson, he could go down to AAA….If Williamson makes the club as the everyday guy, then Parker would really either have to make the club and be a backup, not necessarily a platoon, but a backup,” Evans said.
Parker, however, would have to be put through waivers to be sent down to the minors, which would put the Giants at-risk of losing him to another team that could claim him.
Given the bad splits last year, Evans says he hopes Parker steps it up this spring training so that situation does not happen.
“I don’t see him getting through waivers,” Evans said.
Both Parker and Willamson have great power potential–something the Giants value.
“Something we’ve really lacked is power,” Evans said. “Both of them have plus plus power. They’re going to have to be able to as young players adjust to major league pitching and the breaking ball and the kind of stuff they’ll see at the big-league level which is much different than what you see at AAA.”
The two have shown flashes of great hitting.
In 2015, the year Parker hit three home runs in one game against the Oakland A’s, he hit .347 with six home runs and 14 RBIs in just 49 major league at-bats. He had an exceptional OPS at 1.163.
Williamson hit 25 home runs, and had a .292 average, with the San Jose Giants in the pitcher-friendly California League in 2013.
Both will battle it out starting Feb. 24 in the Giants’ Cactus League Opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
Follow Vince on Twitter @Vince_Cestone.