Giants turn to Jarrett Parker to zap power shortage

The San Francisco Giants hit 130 home runs in 2016, well below the league average and good for third-worst in the MLB.

Power out of the usual suspects has dwindled over the years. Buster Posey‘s OPS spiraled from .957 in 2012 to .796 in 2016. Injuries kept Hunter Pence out of the 20 home-run club since 2014.

Every offseason seeks an answer to the same question: Will the Giants find a source of power again? A couple surprising names rose to the top — and some unsurprising — but a couple of late injuries have kept the Opening Day roster a last-minute riddle.

Michael Morse replaced Brandon Belt at first in the fifth inning of the Giants’ March 15 afternoon game against the Angels, perhaps injecting hope of livening a two-hit, scoreless game on a balmy Arizona afternoon.

In the sixth, the 11,000 boiling fans at Scottsdale Stadium heard their first big crack of the bat: Morse pummeled a double just a few feet short of clearing the lawn, sparking a four-run inning extended by an Aaron Hill RBI single. He would strike again in the eighth, cashing in a Mac Williamson double with another loud drive. The Giants went on to beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-4.

That by-chance transaction at Hunter Pence‘s wedding spawned what could be one of the Giants’ best chances at power off the bench in 2017. After a slow start to Spring, Morse quickly found his stride. Since March 8, he hit three home runs, an RBI double and RBI single.

Morse’s friendship with Pence, his enthusiasm, would bring fresh energy to a familiar clubhouse, too. He’s got roots in San Francisco and a bat to boot.

But a late-spring hamstring injury — incurred on a trip around first base — may have shot down his April hopes. At least, if he chooses, Morse could rehab in the minors into the regular season in hopes that he can eventually slide onto the big-league roster.

The Morse injury could leave open an April outfield spot for Chris Marrero, who’s shined all spring. Marrero leads the team with six home runs, and his 10 RBIs rank second behind Jarrett Parker.

Marerro, Morse, whoever, will join Gorkys Hernandez off the bench — a spot left unsettled after Parker eased his way into the starting left field position.

The starting situation is pretty simple: Parker is hitting .271, cooling off after a hot 13-hit, four home-run, 13 RBI start. He went 3-for-3, all singles, in a March 12 win against the Diamondbacks. He’s also out of options.

Hernandez is out of options. Mac Williamson is not.

Williamson made the left field competition fun and looked promising. His 10 hit, two home run, two double run was cut short by quad tightness that’s kept him out since March 15.

Injury and all, Williamson could start the year in Sacramento and the outfield picture may look a little like this: Denard Span, Pence and Parker, with Marrero and Gorkys Hernandez in the wings.

But Aaron Hill’s made his case for a super utility spot. In addition to his 37 innings at second, Hill’s tallied six innings at short and six in left. Hill’s been solid at the plate, too, tallying nine hits, including three doubles.

That could also leave space for Kelby Tomlinson to take his long-awaited spot on the Opening Day roster.

Oh, the choices.