With the season in full swing and the trade deadline looming, the San Francisco Giants are likely weighing their options in the outfield, not only for the rest of this season, but for 2017 and beyond as well. Angel Pagan has been relatively healthy this season and has put up Angel Pagan-type numbers, batting .285 with a .327 on-base percentage and a 109 wRC+. He struggled to a negative WAR last season (-0.5) and was 19 percent below league average with an 81 wRC+, so the return to his typical production level this season has been a nice boost to the offense, especially with Hunter Pence missing a large chunk of the season.
Gregor Blanco is another outfielder that will see his contract expire after the conclusion of the World Series, but of the two his contract figures to be more reasonable and he is more of a role player that can eat up some playing time when injuries strike, anyway.
With the Giants suffering a number of injuries in recent weeks, we have been able to see some new faces in the black and orange, and in a way we also get to see Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson fight for playing time this season, while also potentially earning an early leg-up on 2017, depending on what happens with free agency this winter.
As far as the eye test goes, Williamson has been the more impressive of the two. Maybe it's the home run he hit to dead center in Arizona that did it. Maybe it's the fine diving plays he's made while manning each corner outfield position. Whatever it is, Williamson would be the player that I would bank on if I could only choose one.
That isn't to say that Parker has performed poorly by any means. In fact, offensively, you can argue that he's actually performed better than Williamson. The two are tied at five home runs apiece, with Parker getting 34 more plate appearances, but that's close enough that it's not a big deal. Parker is also hitting .255 and carries a 124 wRC+ while Mac is batting .227 with a 117. Parker is roughly a year and a half older, so that could sway you, but in terms of the next season or two, it shouldn't.
What it all comes down to, in my opinion, are three factors.
Defensively, both can play each corner position, and Parker has even made an appearance in center, but according to Baseball Reference, Williamson is the better overall defender per defensive wins above replacement. According to FanGraphs' DRS (defensive runs saved), Parker has cost the Giants three runs this season while manning the corners (he saved one run while in center), and Williamson has saved one. It's a small difference, but enough to make a difference in a big game.
Their strikeout percentages, again, are very similar, but Williamson, who has had much less playing time in the majors, let alone since being drafted due to numerous injuries, has shown a better eye.
Then there is ISO, which is a measure that FanGraphs uses to determine a player's propensity for extra base hits. This year the average ISO across baseball is .162, which is much higher than it has been in recent years, but that leaves Parker between average to above average in this measure. Williamson on the other hand would be deemed "great" by the rating system provided.
With this in mind, let's take this all a step further. If Williamson (or Parker) is deemed as a realistic option for 2017, and Pence is expected to return before the trade deadline, one of these two players could be moved at the deadline. With Pence, Parker/Williamson and Denard Span setting up as the outfield for next season, that would leave the other on the outside looking in, and they could be much more valuable by becoming trade bait. Last year the team traded Adam Duvall to Cincinnati for Mike Leake, and Duvall, who has been seeing regular playing time with the Reds, has been bashing home runs all season long. Both Parker and Williamson have that kind of potential, and have shown more of that potential at the big league level than Duvall had.
Teams have reportedly been asking about some of the Giants major league talent in order to acquire one of a number of players. The Yankees were one of those teams, and with the short porch they love to take advantage of in right field, Parker, the left-hander, could be a great fit for them. This is just speculation, and with New York's already aging roster they wish to go even younger than a 27-year-old Parker, but it's still a decent idea to dissuade the Bronx Bombers from taking either Panik or Duffy.
If one of these two finds a new home in the next nine days, the depth of the team could take a hit, but the outfield is seemingly one spot that has enough bodies for the time being. Down in the minor leagues, recently promoted Steven Duggar has been on fire in his last nine games with Richmond, batting .405, raising his average with the team from .186 on July 9 to .288 after Friday night's game. He'll likely finish out the majority of the season with the Flying Squirrels, but could get a brief look in Sacramento at the end of the season and could find himself as a candidate for an outfield spot during spring training.
If neither is traded, then one will likely be sent down when Pence returns to the lineup, and while staying in the big leagues is the goal of any professional baseball player, regular playing time in Sacramento may benefit the odd-man out heading into 2017. There is a lot at play for the San Francisco Giants, and the future of their outfield, this trade deadline.