Closing Time: Mac Williamson powers up in San Francisco

Roto Arcade

The 2018 San Francisco Giants are one of the oldest teams in baseball. They can watch Thirtysomething reruns and catch all the references. These guys remember flip phones and dial-up internet.

Andrew McCutchen is still a good player, but nowhere near his yearly MVP-contending peak of 2012-2015. The same exact words apply Buster Posey. Evan Longoria’s talent and contract used to make him one of baseball’s most valuable assets; last year, he had a league-average OPS-plus. (Heck, he was recently cut in the Yahoo Friends & Family league, though a FAAB-fight broke out shortly thereafter.) For years, Hunter Pence was the indestructible man who never fell on the disabled list; now, he’s a 35-year-old outfielder with a bum thumb.

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Some might view Mac Williamson as an ordinary 27-year-old outfielder, too old to be a prospect. But he feels like a teenager in this Giants clubhouse. And maybe he can give this offense a much-needed spark.

Williamson has been in the minors for seven years, and never showed up on the prospect clipboards. But he forced San Francisco’s hand this year, conking six homers in 39 Triple-A at-bats (ahh, the PCL) and jumping on the Giants roster when Pence sprained his thumb. Williamson’s homered twice in his four games post-recall, including a mammoth blast Monday.

If you add up Williamson’s patchwork time in the majors, it doesn’t amount to much: .229/.293/.405, though he does have 11 homers in 227 at-bats. But right now, the Giants can’t be choosy — they need healthy bodies, and they need power. You name it, the Giants offense isn’t good at it: 19th in average, 28th in OBP, 25th in slugging, 26th in runs.

Yahoo owners have been slow to consider Williamson — he’s rostered in just four percent of leagues. But with Pence already hurt and clearly in the fade years of his career, maybe there’s an organic chance for Williamson to stick around. He’s already rostered in my deepest mixers; perhaps this week, the 12-team leagues will kick some tires.

• It was a quick rise and a fast fall for Delino DeShields this year — February sleeper, March helium pick, April injury. But DeShields made a speedy recovery from his fractured hamate bone, and he’s back to give the Rangers offense a jump-start.

DeShields took the collar Sunday, his first game back, but he was up to his old tricks Monday, swiping two bases and getting caught a third time. That’s what we want from Kid DeShields, who was particularly handy in the leadoff spot last year (80 games, 64 runs, 22 steals, .350 OBP). Jeff Banister isn’t the most patient of managers, but it appears they’re going to let DeShields bat first and run as much as he likes.

• We always like a good post-hype story in fantasy, and David Dahl fits that profile in Colorado. Dahl suffered a rib injury in spring training last year, which pretty much wrecked his season. His 2018 roster chances were cooked when the Rockies, oddly, re-signed Carlos Gonzalez in March. But when Cargo tweaked his hamstring last week and Gerardo Parra ran into a suspension, Dahl was promoted on Sunday, and he’s been in the lineup the last two games.

Dahl’s filled the box score nicely in those two starts, collecting three hits and a walk. He was moved into the cleanup spot Monday. Dahl is still just 24 and was a rated prospect from 2013-2016. Thin air is thin air; Welcome to the Dahlhouse. Plausible upside is what we look for on the waiver wire, and Dahl has it. He’s only rostered in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues.

• Oakland’s offense has been a surprise through the opening month, sitting third in runs scored, second in average, first in OBP, and third in slugging. Shortstop Marcus Semien is settling in as the unorthodox leadoff batter. Semien’s .248/.308/.409 slash might leave you cold, but he’s always offered category juice, and maybe he’ll do something zesty in his age-27 season.

Semien only batted .249 last year, though he had 10 homers and 12 steals in just 85 games. Prorate that to a full season and we have something special. He’s off to a snappy .270-20-3-13-2 start through 23 games, making him the No. 7 Yahoo shortstop.

Even if Semien’s average slips back to career norms, keep in mind the shape of 2018 baseball. The current MLB slash line is .241/.318/.394. The median batting average in my two deepest mixers is .251. If Semien can keep the leadoff spot and maintain his category juice, his expected average is something we can live with. And heck, at his age pocket, a career season could be in play.

Semien is long-gone in the deep leagues, but he’s still unowned in half of Yahoo. Someone out there is missing out on a fun offense, and a fun player.

• We expected Franchy Cordero to be another of those fun-if-flawed players (that’s why we instantly lead with him the day of his recall), and he’s been that in San Diego. Check his 11 games: 15 strikeouts, just two walks, an ordinary .256 average and .289 OBP. But he’s also socked four homers and stolen two bases, and Monday’s titanic blast at Colorado hasn’t landed yet.

Cordero’s playing time isn’t guaranteed going forward, especially with Manny Margot and Wil Myers off the DL. Perhaps the Padres will give Cordero the heavy side of a platoon, sit him against lefties. Margot and Jose Pirela are off to slow starts, anyway. Given the category juice Cordero showed at Triple-A, I’d like to see him owned in more than 12 percent of Yahoo leagues. Let’s see how the team moves the players around. There’s too much upside at stake. Give the story some time to develop.

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