As spring training began, we were all under the impression that the battle for left field would go through either Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson. But is it possible that Chris Marrero could edge his way into a role on the club to begin the season? His three homers, which includes two walk-offs, lead the club in the early going from Scottsdale. The problem with having Marrero as a legitimate option in left is that Bruce Bochy and the Giants aren't giving him the reps at the position so far this spring. In his nine game appearances, two have come with some limited time in left with the rest of his time being split between first base and DH. On the bright side for Marrero's roster hopes, the two outings he's had in left have come in the last three games.
Even with the pop that he has shown this spring, does he really have a shot to make the opening day squad? Lets look at Marrero's numbers compared to Parker and Williamson.
And therein lies the rub for Marrero. His power display has been nice and has led to two spring victories, but his game is too similar to both Parker and Mac. All three have power, but the frontrunners for the job have displayed a better approach at the plate, which is a big deal in San Francisco, and are better defensively in left than Marrero. Both also have experience playing at AT&T. All of this should lead to someone with a little different skill set making the club as the fourth outfielder. Both Gorkys Hernandez (batting .125) and Wynton Bernard (.111) offer more speed and versatility to play more than corner spots but they have struggled through the first two weeks of play. Steven Duggar is going to start the season in Sacramento to get some Triple-A experience before making his debut, but with a little improvement, we could be seeing Austin Slater emerge as an option for the SF Giants to consider.
Duggar is batting .364 with a .462 OBP through 11 at-bats while Slater is batting .214, which is right in line with Michael Morse so far. Morse offers experience, both in the majors and at AT&T, which would give him the edge over Slater if the race remains close. What could happen as the games keep on coming, is that Marrero could see more and more time in the outfield in Arizona in an attempt to make him a solid backup option if injuries occur during the regular season.
Right now I'd give the slight edge to Parker, even though he is only batting .222. His OBP is still higher than Mac's and his walks and strikeouts are even. They both play well in the outfield, although Williamson may have a slight edge there. It's going to be a close race for the starting spot that will come down to the final days of spring. If the Giants decide to go with 'someone with experience' as the backup as they have stated is their intent, there are plenty of options to consider, and those battles are likely to follow us until opening day arrives too.
One option that could arise would be Eduardo Nunez if he is displaced by Jae-gyun Hwang or Conor Gillaspie at third. Nunez doesn't have a lot of experience in left, but he does have some and brings a different skill set than some of the other outfield options.
My guess is that the fourth outfielder spot will be switched around quite a bit this season and that we could see a number of the options listed above in San Francisco throughout the season. For what it's worth, Chris Marrero strikes me as the kind of guy that could have a big postseason moment like Gillaspie, Morse or Ishikawa before him. Mark it down, but don't @ me.