San Francisco Giants: Why Nate Schierholtz's Job Should Be Safe

Andy BenschSenior Writer IApril 1, 2010

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 03: Nate Schierholtz #12 of the San Francisco Giants bats runs against the Seattle Mariners during a spring training game at Peoria Sports Complex on March 3, 2010 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants have seen just one homegrown position player become a consistent every day starter over the last 20 years. His name is Pablo Sandoval .

Now heading into the 2010 campaign, the Giants have an opportunity to develop a second home grown position player into a consistent everyday player.

With Randy Winn signing with the New York Yankees, the right field spot for the Giants was suppose to be gift wrapped for Nate Schierholtz , San Francisco’s second round draft choice from 2003.

But unfortunately, recent reports suggest the right field job is still open for fellow home grown outfielder John Bowker to win.

It’s these types of reports that have had Giants fans scratching their heads over recent seasons.

Before giving a solid young player a fair shot, they fall in love with another young player who hasn’t shown to be nearly as valuable as the former.

To be fair, Bowker has absolutely raked Cactus League pitching this Spring to the tune of a .308/.378/.631 mark in a team high 65 at-bats. More detailed numbers show that Bowker has totaled 41 bases, hit five home runs and notched 20 RBI. Nobody else on the Giants has more than three home runs nor more than 12 RBI.

Clearly, Bowker has been on fire.

But against who? When you consider his teammate and best pitcher in baseball, Tim Lincecum, has a 6.94 ERA during Spring Training, it is obvious that the best players aren’t competing at the highest of levels during a glorified preseason schedule.

Yet the Giants are extremely high on Bowker purely because of these impressive numbers during March.

What about real numbers in games that actually matter? Have they been thrown out the window?

Bowker’s career line in the Majors during games that count is the following:

.241/.291/.402 in 142 at-bats.

Now while Schierholtz has struggled at the plate during the exhibition season, hitting just .236/.288/.491, he has been working a new approach at the plate. Perhaps the Nevada native just needs a few more games to get used to the new approach before he really gets hot at the dish.

That said, not only should Schierholtz be given time to work out the kinks at the plate because of his altered hitting approach but he also deserves some leniency because he has much better career marks than Bowker.

In 472 ML at-bats, Schierholtz has hit .284/.316/.415.

Taking into consideration these factors, giving Schierholtz the right field job to start the season should be a no-brainer.

Yet, there is still one more huge benefit that puts Schierholtz over the top: his defense.

Right field at AT&T Park is widely considered as the hardest defensive position to play in baseball. With the towering brick wall and the triples Alley in right center, covering ground and reading caroms is a tricky business.

Fortunately, Schierholtz not only makes playing out there look easy, but he boasts a cannon of an arm that is so strong and accurate that teams stopped running against him last season.

Bowker on the other hand doesn’t even come close to owning this kind of defensive prowess. For quite awhile Bowker was primarily a first baseman and now they are contemplating starting him in right field?

Don’t the Giants realize they are built on pitching? Putting together the best defensive lineup possible is going be crucial, especially when you consider designated hitter Aubrey Huff is attempting to play first base. There will be plenty of balls hit down the first base line that will give Schierholtz a chance to throw runners out at second base.

If the Giants don’t start Schierholtz in right field on Opening Day in Houston, it will be another critical mistake in player development. The only way Bowker should see everyday playing time in right field is if Schierholtz fails to find his swing by the end of April.

But until then, Schierholtz’s starting job should be safe.


This article was originally published for and can also be seen here: