We’re just a few weeks into the season and I’m being polite when I say the Giants haven’t enjoyed much success to begin 2023. Lumped with a losing record entirely of their own making, it hasn’t been much fun for Giants fans lately.
On multiple occasions they’ve engineered catastrophe out of thin air, throwing away very winnable games, and generally stinking things up. They’ve been a tough watch and despite the season not even being a month old, dark clouds are already converging above San Francisco.
However, there are some rays of light peeking through, and no one has been more golden than J.D. Davis.
Arguably the best player on the team right now, Davis has transformed himself from a part-time corner infielder into the everyday third baseman. Born and raised in the Bay Area (Elk Grove is less than a two hour drive to the ballpark), the soon-to-be 30-year-old slugger has been putting on a show on a daily basis, both at the plate and in the field. Davis has quickly established himself as an indispensable figure and someone skipper Gabe Kapler cannot leave out of the lineup.
It’s fair to say we didn’t see the best of Davis in the brief time he was a Giant last season. He joined the team from the Mets at the 2022 trade deadline and got off to a solid start to his Giants career, hitting .263/.361/.496 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 8 home runs in 49 games. Good numbers for sure, but we didn’t have a lot to get excited about, as Davis didn’t feature every day and was often shuffled between first and third base, with a bit of DH thrown into the mix as well.
This year is a different story; Davis showed no hesitation in proving himself to be the Giants’ best option at third base. Rookie David Villar, the spring favourite for the job, fell down the pecking order as he hasn’t got his bat going yet. Villar has also seen some time at second base, further allowing Davis the opportunity to make the hot corner his permanent address.
Obviously it’s still early in the season and a few weeks in April isn’t an indicator of how the entire year may shape up, but the early signs for Davis have been nothing but positive thus far.
At the time of writing you will find Davis’ name atop the list of almost every offensive category for the club. His .347/.389/.633 slashline (AVG/OBP/SLG) and 1.022 OPS currently have him positioned as one of the better hitters in the game and his 4 home runs and 13 RBIs are both team-highs.
As impressive as Davis has been with the bat, it’s his work with the glove that has really stood him apart. Not regarded as an elite defensive player in the past, Davis has clearly put in the work to change that perception. After seeing some of the marvellous plays he’s pulled off this year, I’d say he’s succeeded in changing people’s opinions now; Davis is getting deserved recognition as a fine third baseman and even a possible Gold Glove candidate.
Interestingly enough, that was one of Davis’ goals ahead of the new campaign: he wants that shiny golden trophy, the hardware to confirm you’re the best in the game at your position. With competition from the likes of Nolan Arenado (among others), Davis will have to be almost perfect to take home the Gold Glove award come the end of the season. There’s no doubt he’s off to a great start though, and has made an outstanding early impression.
Naturally we should temper our expectations until more baseball has been played; the season isn’t even a month old yet, but Davis definitely has Giants fans excited. That counts for a lot at the moment, when other aspects of the team have proven to be underwhelming.
If the rest of the roster can get up to par soon, Davis and friends could make some noise this summer.
Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @AshDay29
Photo credit for featured image by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.