Posted By Jeff Fletcher on February 24, 2009 10:09 am
It seems there is a little battle brewing here this spring between these two guys, even though the general consensus a month ago seemed to be that Travis Ishikawa was the guy. I still believe he is, but let’s take a look and break ‘em down a little.
They are both 25. Bowker’s about two months older. Ishikawa has much more pro experience since he signed out of high school and Bowker went to college.
Here are their career minor league lines…
And here are their major league lines…
It looks like Bowker may be a slightly better hitter. Even though he tanked in the second half in the majors last year, that could just be because he had enough at-bats to tank (326), whereas Ishikawa (119) wasn’t up for long enough for the pitchers to get a good book on him.
Defensively, there is a big difference, but not as big as you might think. Bowker’s a converted outfielder and Ishikawa is a true first baseman with a reputation for having a very good glove. According to one Giants person I talked to about them last year, though, Bowker is really better than you’d think and Ishikawa is really worse. That closes the gap, but Ishikawa is still better.
So, after all that, we’ve settled nothing.
I would go with Ishikawa unless Bowker dramatically outplays him in the spring, for a few reasons. First, defense is fairly important at first base, especially for the Giants. They are giving away enough defensively at the other infield spots, there is no reason to give away even more here. Second, Ishikawa has much more pro experience, and that makes him more likely to be able to handle the adjustments that pitchers will make to him in the big leagues. He may not hit .300 in the majors, but I don’t seem him dropping off a cliff the way Bowker did. Finally, Ishikawa is out of options. It’s no lock that the Giants would lose him if they put him on waivers, and I don’t think it would be the end of the world if they did, but it’s certainly another factor that tips the scales in his favor.