Opening day is less than two weeks, there appears to be one position battle that appears to be over.
Barring some unforeseen turn of events, Jarrett Parker will be the starting left-fielder for the San Francisco Giants in 2017.
Parker came into spring training expected to battle Mac Williamson for the left-field job. They both put on spirited battle this spring.
The numbers (through Sunday)
Parker – 12 for 38 (.316), 4 HR, 12 RBI, 7 BB, 10 Ks, .435 OBP, .658 SLG
Williamson – 11 for 34 (.324), 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 7 Ks, .378 OBP, .559 SLG
Considering that Parker is out of minor league options (and Williamson still has one left) and the fact that Williamson is now hampered by a quad injury, it would only take an injury by Parker in the last couple weeks of spring to keep him out of the Opening Day roster.
Ever since he was drafted in second round out of Virginia in 2010, Parker has been a free-swinging, all-or-nothing power hitter who struck out nearly 30 percent of the time in six minor league season.
But this spring, Parker has displayed greater discipline at the plate, resulting in .435 OBP.
“His discipline has improved so much,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. “Even though he’s shortened up, he’s not sacrificing power. It’s maturing as a hitter, and he’s doing that. Coming into this spring, he knew what was at stake and he’s doing the job.”
The biggest question remaining for Parker is can he be an everyday left-fielding.
He has a.267/.371/.494 slash line in 205 big league plate appearances over the past two seasons. But his splits against righties and lefties remain a concern.
Vs. righties: .294/.411/.532 in 151 PAs.
Vs. lefties: .200/.259/.400 in 54 PAs.
And that makes the decision regarding the backup outfielder positions key.
Assuming Williamson starts the season in Triple-A (because he has the option) or on the DL, Michael Morse appears to be the frontrunner in the home stretch to secure a reserve role. Morse has 2 HRs, 6 RBI and is hitting .276 this spring, and has the edge of the fading Chris Marrero.
The question regarding Morse is whether makes the team depends on what decision the Giants make regarding the bullpen.
In past season, Bochy has opted to leave Arizona with an eight-man bullpen, leaving four position players on the bench.
If the Giants do that, a four-player bench likely means a four-man outfield. And if the Giants go with Hunter Pence, Denard Span, Parker and Morse, it will leave them on shaky ground in center.
Span is not the most durable center fielder, and Parker has only logged 11 innings in the majors in center.
That leads you to believe the Giants would lean with someone with center field experience. And that leaves Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano, neither of whom is impressing at the plate this spring. Even so, Hernandez would have the edge here.
But if the Giants go with a five-player bench, they could break camp with Pence, Span, Parker, Morse and Hernandez.