Michaelangelo’s statue of David is arguably the most famous statue in existence. Korean bus tours ferry their customers to gawk at it, so you know it’s famous beyond famous. Giorgio Vasari, a renowned Renaissance painter himself, said this about the statue of David:
“When all was finished, it cannot be denied that this work has carried off the palm from all other statues, modern or ancient, Greek or Latin; no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelagnolo finish it”
The David I’m going to be talking about in this piece is far from perfection. In fact, his imperfections are so apparent that the boy from the Mask, not the Jim Carrey one but the Cher one, has become more confident. This David whom I write of is David Villar of the San Francisco Giants. Here’s why I think he has some utility.
Villar is 26 years old, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, bats from the right side, and has played seven games at third base and four games at second base.
He was drafted by the Giants in the 11th round of the 2018 MLB draft, a few months before Farhan Zaidi joined the organization. The power was evident from the outset, as he put up a .270 ISO in 247 plate appearances in Single-A. The walk rate was only 6.5%, though, and the strikeout rate was 27.1%. The batting average was in the .270 range throughout his minor league career. The walk rate did improve over time, culminating in a 15% mark in Triple-A. The ISO was a robust .342 that season in 366 plate appearances.
Villar made his MLB debut in 2022 and accrued 181 plate appearances. He slashed .231/.331/.455 with a 9.9% walk rate, 32% strikeout rate, and .224 ISO. So far this season, the slash is .235/.366/.529 with a 12.2% walk rate, 26.8% strikeout rate, and a .294 ISO.
The BABIP is only. 250 this season so some positive regression could be in store, but he hits so few ground balls and the sprint speed is only in the 27th percentile that the improvement will likely be minimal. His current 0.50 GB/FB rate is 10th-lowest in all of MLB. The 52.2% FB rate is 20th-best. As a potential home run hitter, those are numbers you like to see.
The approach is a good one, as he goes up the middle 47.8% and only pulls the ball 34.8%. I’m not sure how I feel about that because pulling the ball more could possibly unlock more power. That said, two of his home runs are to left field and he has a massive one to dead center, measuring in the 420-foot area. The hard hit rate, according to Fangraphs, is a robust 52.2%, which is sixth-best.
Looking at the plate discipline numbers, though, gives me some heebie jeebies. While the chase rate is only 28%, the contact rate in the zone is a paltry 70.8% and the swinging strike rate is 16.2%. I hate, hate, hate those numbers. The contact rate in the zone is the third-lowest while the swinging strike rate is the 22nd-highest. Woo saaaa. Woo saaaaa.
This does not mean we throw David Villar into the trash of One Man’s Trash. There are glimmers of hope and slivers of optimism. Mike Trout and Matt Olson have 70.8% and 71.8% contact rates in the zone currently. As for robust swinging strike rates, Trea Turner currently leads all of baseball while Aaron Judge has a higher rate than Villar.
As for splits, Villar has been better on the road than at home. He has hit one of his two home runs at home, and that was the massive shot to dead-center. Throughout his career, he was much better against lefties than righties. Granted, the sample size is a little over 200 plate appearances. This season, he has been much better against righties than lefties, albeit in only a 40-plate appearance sample size.
David Villar is locked in as the Giants third baseman and will usually bat in the fifth or sixth spot in the order. He also fills in at second base, so he could become a multi-eligible player at some point during the season. The biggest allure is the power, though. He’s had an ISO over .200 in every year of his career expect for one, during the 2019 season in Single-A when he put up a .158 ISO. The batting average will likely be a drain but the power is real and the plate appearances should be plentiful.