Ishikawa Is Giants' New Cactus League Cult Hero

We're one thirty-seventh of the way into the exhibition season, and Giants fans have a new cult hero to dream big about.

He's not a household name, but Travis Ishikawa produced outsize results in the Giants exhibition opening win, going 3-for-3 with 2 home runs and four RBI. His offense provided the difference in a 10-7 win over the Cleveland Indians, so he's your team MVP so far.

There's always some not-at-all household name who blows everybody out of in the water in the exhibition season. There's no guarantee these guys will ever be any good once the games count.  But it keeps Cactus League play engaging for fans, and when the guy has a super ethnic name then it's he's even more fun to root for.

Ishi is locked in a battle for the starting first base position with John Bowker. Ishikawa had monster numbers at a point in the season where pitchers are supposed to be way ahead of batters. This early, batters are often scared to swing at anything. Doubly so if Randy Johnson is pitching.

Right now Ishikawa has a leg way up in his battle with Bowker, but Bowker's story itself provides a perfect cautionary example. Bowker blasted home runs in both of his first two major league games, and hit .412 his first week in the Bigs. But the rest of the year, he couldn't hit a thing and was reassigned to the minor leagues.

So the Ishikawa surge may be a complete mirage. But it's better to have guys who can play well in Cactus League than guys who can't.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who can't play in the Cactus Leagues.

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