The best news of the first week of the 2019 baseball season, at least for this Giants fan, came Thursday morning when it was reported that Mac Williamson cleared waivers and will head to Triple-A Sacramento.
Yeah, I know, the news isn’t exactly Second Coming kind of news, but it’s been a rough first week of the 2019 season. So we’ll take what we can get.
I was very surprised when the Giants DFA’d Williamson prior to opening day as most projected him to at least get a shot to show what he could do in left field for the Giants.
Instead, the Giants went with 13 pitchers and tried to plug their left-field hole with the likes of Connor Joe, Michael Reed, Yangervis Solarte among others.
It hasn’t gone well.
Left-field continues to be the black hole in a rather darkish lineup in 2019.
Giants left fielders this season are batting .045 (1 for 22) with an OBP of .125 and eight strikeouts. The lone hit came Wednesday night, when Gerardo Parra got his first start in left of the season.
By comparison, Giants pitchers – PITCHERS – are batting .167 (2 for 12).
So any help the Giants can get, whether it be on the lineup or down in Sacramento, would be appreciated.
Williamson came into spring as the expected starting left field. But the Giants wanted him to show them something during the spring, perhaps a repeat of his 2018 spring when he hit .318 after reworking his swing the previous winter.
However, Williamson hit .237 (14 for 63) with one home run, two doubles, two walks and 18 strikeouts. Right now, .237 looks mighty sweet considering what current left fielders have been doing.
I don’t know if Williamson can be an everyday major league hitter or not. Quite frankly, we just haven’t seen enough of him.
Injuries and opportunities (or lack thereof) have halted Williamson’s progress all the way through the Giants’ system.
Williamson was drafted in the third round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Wake Forest.
He hit .342 with 7 home runs in 29 games in short-season A Salem-Keizer in 2012.
He hit .292 with 25 home runs in 136 games in high-A San Jose in 2013.
He earned a trip to spring training in 2014 and the plan was for him to move to Double-A Richmond. However, an elbow injury kept him at San Jose so he could DH. He hit .318 with three home runs in 23 games with San Jose before Tommy John surgery ended his season.
Recovered in 2015, he hit .293 with five home runs in 69 games for Double-A Richmond, earning a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. He hit .249 with eight home runs in 54 games for the RiverCats. He received a sip of coffee with the Giants in September, getting into 10 games.
The 2016 season saw Williamson put on the recall yo-yo.
After opening the season at Triple-A, he got recalled on April 15 by the Giants before being demoted on April 22, got recalled on May 2, sent back on May 9, recalled on June 2, sent back June 14.
He finally got a sustained shot at playing time after getting recalled again on June 21. In 34 games, he hit .256 with .365 on-base percentage with 6 home runs and 14 RBI.
But then on July 31, Willamson hurt his shoulder diving for ball in the outfielder and was placed on the DL. He didn’t return to the Giants until roster expanded in September. Clearly, he wasn’t healthy, going 1 for 14 before returning to the DL to end the season.
After another solid spring in 2017 (he hit .324), a quad injury put him on the DL to open the season. By April 19, the Giants sent him to the minors for a rehab assignment, which became a demotion to Triple-A on April 25.
Then he went back on the minor-league yo-yo – recalled May 15, sent back May 30, recalled July 8, sent back July 10.
He got another September call-up. After batting .156 (5 for32) in his earlier (brief) call-ups, Williamson hit .306 (11 for 38) down the stretch.
Willamson spent the following offseason reworking his swing with hitting guru Doug Latta. He hit .318 with four home runs in 44 spring at-bats, but with one option left, the Giants sent Williamson back to Sacramento, where hit hit .487 with six home runs in 11 games with the Rivercats.
That, along with an injury to Hunter Pence, led the Giants to recall Williamson.
He belted three home runs and hit .316 in his first five games with the Giants. But then he stumbled over the bullpen mounds (by the way, the Giants are one of two teams with bullpen mounds in the field of play in the majors – the A’s are the other. Not good company to keep) and crashed head-first into the padded wall.
That led to a month-long stint on the DL. When Williamson returned, he hit .187 over 23 games before his season came to an end on June 22 when it was clear he was not fully recovered from his concussion.
Williamson arrived at spring this year full recovered, but his red-hot, retooled swing didn’t come with him. So he was DFA’d.
Now he gets to go to Sacramento and show that he deserves one more – and perhaps this time prolonged – opportunity to show what he can do in the majors.
Because up to this point, injury and opportunity have robbed Williamson of that chance.