MLB

Giants Left Field Problem is Center Field

Shawon Dunstan, second from left, talks with San Francisco Giants outfielders Hunter Pence, Denard Span, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Matt Williamson during a spring training workout at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Az., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Let’s talk about your left field concern. The same one that troubled you in February. And keep tuning in, we’ll be running exhausting loops of this horrid situation for the foreseeable future. Only this track has a feature: center field.

Gorkys Hernandez is in his fourth year in the big leagues and he has 46 total hits. Denard Span is rapidly aging. He’s got a noodle arm in center and his plate numbers are unsatisfactory in terms of lead-off hitting. Chris Marrero is a 28-year-old rookie and Jarret Parker looks like major league ball player when you glance at his trading card.

Parker is out for months (shoulder), though his numbers are used in the off-putting metrics I’m preparing to present — mostly because he was given his first starting gig this year. Which, might I add, was at 28. That’s pretty old for a player’s first starting role. And now he’s replaced by Marrero, who’s a rookie, and 28.

Allow me to get to the meat of it: The numbers are atrocious.

But we’re going start with something positive. The former iron-man Hunter Pence, 34, who’s name didn’t miss the lineup for 300+ games saw his share of injuries over the past few seasons. The downward trend was worrisome. But he’s looked strong through 17 games this season (all of which he’s played in). He owns a .292 batting average, .356 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage.

Remix: he’s out for Saturday’s game against the Rockies. For real. And the reason is not yet reported.

Let’s continue now that we’re done with that rewarding positive bit. Denard Span opened up the season by sitting out (hip soreness) — a cause for concern, at the time, since he was coming off his first full spring with the Giants. He’s since recovered and appeared in 13 games. His counterpart, Hernandez, has appeared in an equal amount, same with Marrero in left. Parker took the field nine times before going down.

The committee of four has stepped in the batter’s box 134 times. They have 20 hits. Total.

Combined they’ve recorded a .149 batting average, .173 on-base percentage, and .224 slugging percentage. If for some reason these figures don’t register with you, let me break it down. It sucks.

Marrero is a rookie, and sure, it’s too early to call his contributions an utter failure. But the evidence does little to inspire hope. So where is the relief coming from? Well, that doesn’t look good either.

Melvin Upton Jr. was recently signed to a minor league deal. He has experience playing everywhere in the outfield and last season he hit 20 home runs split with the Blue Jays and Padres —Brandon Belt had a team-most (17), for the Giants. On Wednesday, with Sacramento, he was hit by a pitch that tore a ligament in his thumb. He underwent surgery and will miss at least two months.

Swing and a miss.

Mac Williamson? Is he still a thing? He’s around. He played in a rehab game (quadriceps) with High-A San Jose. He went 1-for-3 and is set to meet Triple-A Sacramento this weekend. He’s the most likely move, as he’s still on the 40-man roster. Michael Morse, who is also due to join Sacramento, is not.

Williamson offers potential power, he’s athletic and fields well. But all metrics and the naked eye test suggest that he’s not much better than Marrero. The move is fairly lateral. So, if back in February, you thought Williamson was the better choice over Parker, you could potentially find solace in that he will likely be rejoining the team soon.

My guess is you probably don’t feel better about left field, or 66-percent of the outfield for that matter, having read this story.

Oh, and yesterday the Rockies scored two runs after Pence lost a fly ball in the lights, Johnny Cueto gave up his first grand slam and the team announced that Madison Bumgarner will miss 6-8 weeks. Ciao.

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