Giants

Drew Ferguson focused on skill Farhan Zaidi coveted to make Giants roster

Drew Ferguson focused on skill Farhan Zaidi coveted to make Giants roster

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For young players in camp, every inning in a Cactus League game is an opportunity to add to the resume and pad a stat line that hopefully will put you on the roster when decisions are made.

Perhaps you'll be the position player who hit .392 or slugged six homers and can't be sent to the minors. Or the pitcher who compiled a 1.50 ERA.

That's what has made Drew Ferguson stand out to the staff this spring. With the pressure on, he has been his usual, patient self, working counts and trying to have good plate appearances in situations where others might be swinging for the fences. That's exactly what Farhan Zaidi, the man who ultimately will decide Ferguson's fate, wants to see. 

"It's tough in this kind of setting with this kind of sample size to expect a certain stat line," Zaidi said. "I don't think he has a lot to show for a lot of those quality at-bats. But we're not going to evaluate him based on the batting average. We're looking for overall at-bat quality."

That's a good sign for Ferguson, who was in a tough spot to begin with. As a Rule 5 pick, he must make the Opening Day roster or else he'll almost certainly end up back with the Houston Astros. The Giants don't want Ferguson to feel that pressure. They want him to be himself, and he certainly has shown that.

While getting the opportunity to lead off on Saturday, Ferguson took a close 2-2 pitch from Cole Hamels and then drew a walk ahead of Buster Posey. The high was followed by a low -- Ferguson got picked off. 

Overall, the 26-year-old is hitting just .143 this spring, but he has a more respectable .333 on-base percentage thanks to five walks in 27 plate appearances. 

There will be growing pains, but Zaidi said he feels Ferguson has run the bases well and played good defense in center field. The coaching staff views him as one of the fastest players in camp. And, "he has had really good at-bats," Zaidi said.

That's something that has always been the key for Ferguson, who doesn't have prototypical size or a big school background. He's listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, and was a 19th-round pick out of Belmont University, but throughout his minor league career with the Astros, Ferguson showed an innate ability to get to first base. 

Ferguson has a .393 on-base percentage in the minors and posted a .432 OBP in 316 plate appearances across two levels last season. In 65 Triple-A games, the center fielder had a .305 average and .436 OBP. 

"I kind of realized when I was younger that it was important," he said. "I followed advanced stats in high school and already knew about sabermetrics and analytics, whatever you want to call it. I kind of just saw that it's really important to get on base. I think I just prioritized that over the years and developed the skill, and the Astros, they valued that skill as well, and helped me develop it further."

The Giants could use more of it. Much more. 

They finished 28th in the majors last year with a .300 on-base percentage, their lowest team mark in 33 years and the eighth-lowest in franchise history. All 10 postseason teams finished in the upper half of the majors in on-base percentage, and in an era when launch angle is all the rage and players are changing their swings to get loft, Ferguson remains focused on the stat that was at the heart of the previous revolution.

"Here's the thing," he said, "People talk about the game changing or how it's going in a different direction. But it's always been valuable to not get out."

[RELATED: How Giants' spring training cuts so far could have role in 2019 season]

Zaidi made that an emphasis as soon as he came on, adding hitters at all levels who do a better job of simply reaching base. He is looking for right-handed help in the outfield and views Ferguson as a potential boost, regardless of what the batting average has been this spring. 

"Drew factors in there," Zaidi said of the outfield race. "The Rule 5 guys, it's find a spot for him or lose him, so that definitely factors in."

Barry Bonds closer comparison to Michael Jordan than Madison Bumgarner

Barry Bonds closer comparison to Michael Jordan than Madison Bumgarner

Michael Jordan and his exploits have dominated the internet for months since ESPN’s “The Last Dance” premiered. Comparisons and retrospectives have become a constant across social media. 

In that spirit, Bleacher Report tried to analyze who most closely resembles MJ’s legacy in MLB and identified two former Giants who possess Jordan-esque qualities: Madison Bumgarner and Barry Bonds.

For MadBum, his postseason dominance draws the closest parallels to Jordan. In over 100 innings of playoff pitching, Bumgarner has just a 2.11 ERA. That includes a dominant World Series in 2014 where MadBum closed out Game 7 with five scoreless relief innings, earning World Series MVP in the process. Bumgarner was critical to each of the Giants' three World Series titles over the past decade.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bonds, on the other hand, simply struck fear into the hearts of opponents in a way few athletes ever have. Teams were willing to walk players in with the bases loaded just to avoid giving up a grand slam to Bonds. His eye-popping seven NL MVP awards surpass Jordan’s five NBA MVPs, and the slugger owns all sorts of other league records. Bonds’ lack of a World Series makes this a tough comparison, but baseball is a completely different sport, and one player absolutely isn’t enough to win a championship. Bonds hit four home runs in the one World Series he ever appeared in, but the Los Angeles Angels managed to overtake the Giants in seven games.

[RELATED: Giants' Larry Baer believes 2020 MLB Draft requires 'better scouting']

While neither player is a perfect correlation to Brady, Bonds clearly is the closer comparison here. MadBum is phenomenal, but he’s never been considered the greatest player or even the greatest pitcher in MLB. Bonds was at the top of the sport for several years and is the greatest slugger the league ever has seen. 

As B/R's Jacob Schafer closes his article with, baseball doesn't have a person who perfectly matches up with Jordan's skillset, personality and impact on the sport.

One thing is for sure: both Bumgarner and Bonds could hit a baseball a heck of a lot better than Jordan ever did.

Nationals honor Gerardo Parra with 'Baby Shark' in World Series ring

Nationals honor Gerardo Parra with 'Baby Shark' in World Series ring

The Washington Nationals unveiled their 2019 World Series ring Sunday, and it has the usual bells and whistles.

Each custom ring features 55 genuine red rubies, 32 sapphires, 170 round diamonds and 23.2 carats of genuine gemstones.

Oh, and one Baby Shark.

What?

That's right. In honor #ForeverGiant Gerardo Parra, who started last season with the Giants before finishing it with the Nationals, the team engraved the "Baby Shark" on the inside of the ring.

Why "Baby Shark?" Because it was Parra's walk-up song for a part of the 2019 season in Washington, and it became the Nationals' rally call.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

According to NBC Sports Washington, Parra was going through a slump and wanted to change his song. He initially didn't want "Baby Shark," but it kept coming up on his phone because his 2-year-old daughter was continually listening to it.

“So, every time I pick, want to move the song -- every time move it -- the “Baby Shark” coming,” Parra told  NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas. “I said, no, I don’t want “Baby Shark.” I do it like three times like that. Baby Shark coming, “Baby Shark” coming. I said, hey, do “Baby Shark,” my song for my kids, my babies.”

Parra signed a minor league contract with the Giants last February, but he played in just 30 games before being released. Little did Parra know that his next stop would result in him winning a World Series ring.

And Parra probably never could have imagined that the "Baby Shark" song he never wanted would be immortalized on the 2019 World Series ring.

[RELATED: Parra impersonated by Batting Stance Guy]

In case you want a glimpse of the Nats' ring, here it is:

That's a nice piece of hardware.

While you wait for the global coronavirus pandemic to end, go ahead and sing "Doo doo doo doo doo doo, Baby Shark" to yourself.