For a long while now, I've been accused of being in "love" with Travis Ishikawa. I once got into an on-line "discussion" that turned nasty with the other poster trying to use my dead father to insult me, while also lying that he had "research" that showed that a player repeating A-ball had never. And never is a long time in baseball, so I knew he was trying to blow smoke up people's behinds, as he would have to go through the minor league history of every major league baseball player to prove that and I called him on that. He whined that I was "ruining his fun".
The funny and sad thing is he took pride in "telling it like it is" without holding anything back and giving others the heat. I later gave him the fact that Moises Alou had repeated A-level and he claimed that he said few, only he didn't know that the Internet Archive had his post captured for posterity, including his assertion that Travis Ishikawa was not worth keeping after his rough start of the 2004 season (he wanted to DFA him) and that it would be better to keep Brad Vericker and Jason Columbus.
Now that Travis is having great success in the majors, I finally have the opportunity to say this: it's only one year, it's small samples (though his MLEs for this season support a nice OPS), he will need to prove it next season and the season after that. He has had too many setbacks plus too many current negatives to say that he has arrived for certain, so all you people who recently jumped on the Ishikawa bandwagon should take pause.
First of all, he still hasn't figured out how to hit LHP. Even in the minors, where the LHP are not as crafty as they are in the majors, he hit an MLE of .158/.283/.219/.502 in 114 AB. The only good thing of note was that he had 20 walks to go with his 29 strikeouts (and that's a very high rate of strikeouts in any case).
Second of all, he still strikes out too much. Even against RHP, against whom he has hit an MLE of .279/.341/.536/.877 in 2008, with 17 HR in 308 AB, he still struck out 59 times, or about an 81% contact rate (or 19% K-rate), which is OK but the better hitters can keep their contact rate above 85%, meaning that he's going to struggle to keep his BA high even against RHP.
Third of all, overall his MLE of .252/.331/.458/.789 for his minor league stats would only be adequate at 1B, the average MLB 1B has an OPS in the .810-820 range, the better ones in the high 800 and above. And his HR -rate would put him roughly in the 20-25 HR range, again, only adequate at 1B, which has a much higher standard for offense than any other position, mainly because the best hitters who cannot field any other position ends up here, as 1B is considered an easier defensive position. The only good thing is that .789 would be great compared to any Giants 1B of the past 5 years at least.
That said, I think Ishikawa deserves a chance to start at 1B for 2009, though in competition with Ortmeier, Bowker, McClain and whoever else wants a MLB starting job. Including his superlative MLB stats thus far into the MLE would probably boost his OPS for the season to an adequate level for 1B. He has also been known for this great 1B defense and he's probably among the best in the farm system in terms of defense there.
He is what he is, probably a platooon 1B who can kill RHP, but overall has a low BA, high walk and strikeout rate, and high HR rate - a true three true talents ballplayer - and also play great defense at 1B. Sandoval would make a good platoon buddy with him, with Sandoval catching regularly but playing 1B against LHP, allowing him regular rest from catching but keeping his bat in the lineup, and giving his backup regular play. But with Posey positioned as our backstop of the future, Sandoval probably would be either our regular starting 1B or 3B at some point, depending on where Villalona ends up, so Ishikawa's time with us might be short unless he can figure out all the problems I noted above. The good thing is that with his emergence, he has plenty of trade value that might come in handy in a year or two when Posey comes up and mixes things up for us (in a good way), or even before. Maybe Seattle might like a native son returning home and starting at 1B for them?