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2018 MLB preview: San Francisco Giants

2017: 64-98 (fifth place in NL West)

Last Postseason Appearance: 2016

Last World Series Title: 2014

2017 Recap

The Giants are not the same team that, from 2010-2014, won three World Series title’s in five years. In fact, they are the complete opposite. 2017 was an absolute disaster for San Francisco, as they managed to win just 64 games, their fewest since 1985.

The offense was abysmal. The Giants ranked 26th in walks, 29th in runs and OBP, and dead-last in SLG and home runs. San Francisco hit just 128 home runs, which was significant less than the 29th ranked team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who hit 151 long balls. Brandon Belt led the team in home runs with just 18. Their pitching ranked ninth in the NL in earned runs, 14th in strikeouts and hits, and dead-last in saves. San Francisco also ranked 28th in defensive efficiency.

While the team may have struggled, Buster Posey had a great 2017. (Bleacher Report)

Their season was doomed in late April when ace Madison Bumgarner injured his ribs and left shoulder in a dirt bike accident. He missed a good chunk of time and ended making just 17 starts and threw a total of 111 innings.

Buster Posey continued to add to his Hall of Fame resume by hitting .320, which was seventh in the league. The 3x World Series champ, 5x All-Star, and 2012 NL MVP posted a .400 OBP, which was the second-best of his nine-year career. Although he has plenty of years left, Posey has cemented himself as one of the best catchers this game has ever seen.

 

 

Seasons, for Catchers, requiring BA>=.285, HR>=12, 2B>=20 and OBP>=.355

BOLD= HOF

PLAYER # OF SEASONS
BUSTER POSEY 7
BILL DICKEY 7
IVAN RODRIGUEZ 6
MIKE PIAZZA 6
CARLTON FISK 5

 

2018: Around the Diamond

Offensively, the Giants made some key moves to create more production in the lineup. In January, they acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last year, Cutch slashed .279/.363/.486 with 28 home runs, 88 RBIs and 11 steals. He led Pittsburgh hits, runs, doubles, home runs, batting average, walks, SLG and OPS. While the ballpark may not be ideal for McCutchen, he will for sure continue to be an above average player.

In 2017, San Francisco ranked 26th in batting average for their number three hitter. To confront this issue, the Giants traded for third basemen, Evan Longoria. Longoria is coming off his fifth-straight 20HR-70RBI season. While he is now considered a grizzly vet, Longo is a fantastic fielder with a lot of pop in his bat.

After ranking 30th in the MLB in WAR for center fielders, the Giants went out and got Austin Jackson. Jackson, in 85 games, hit .318/.387/.482 for the Cleveland Indians in 2017.  Joining Jackson and McCutchen in the outfield will of course be Hunter Pence, who is obviously not the player he once was, but a terrific clubhouse leader.

With Longoria at third, Brandon Crawford, who led the team in RBIs with 77 at short, Joe Panik at second, Brandon Belt at first, and Posey behind the plate, the Giants should expect a solid season from their infield.

On the Bump

Jeff Samardzija, who finished first in BB/9, third in innings, 10th in WHIP, and had 205 strikeouts, will begin the season on the DL with a strained pec muscle. Wait, it gets worse. Friday, Madison Bumgarner was struck by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals second basemen, Whit Merrifield.

Bumgarner hopes to get back on the mound before the All-Star break (Chicago Tribune)

Bumgarner broke a bone in his left hand and will now be sidelined for 6-8 weeks. This was a guy who, in 2011-216, pitched at least 200 innings in each season, plus another 102.1 playoff innings. Two unlucky injuries in back-to-back years is absolutely devastating for not only Bumgarner, but the entire Giants franchise.

Because of these two injuries, mostly Bumgarner’s, you can almost kiss this season goodbye if you’re a Giants fan. A staff with Johnny Cueto, who was terrible last year, Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Derek Holland, who shouldn’t have an MLB job after his last few seasons, and Tyler Beede, is not what you would consider a “winning rotation”. Although Beede has serious potential to become a quality starter in this league.

A bullpen that blew 22 saves and ranked 25th in BAA should fare much better in 2018 with the addition of Tony Watson. Watson has a career 2.68 ERA in his seven years in the show. Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon should both bounce back after struggling with San Francisco in 2017.

The Future

San Francisco has just one member who cracked MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect’s list. Heliot Ramos (No.63), was the Giants first round pick in the 2017 MLB draft, and looks like a future star. Last year, he ran an incredible 6.42-second 60-yard dash at the Excellence Games, and was signed right out high school. In his 35 games, Ramos led the Rookie-level Arizona League in SLG (.645), and finished runner-up in batting (.348) and OPS (1.049).

For Ramos, the sky is the limit. He has incredible power and speed, and just needs a few years to develop a better approach, which will come in time. Keep in mind, he will not turn 19 until September 7.

2018 Prediction: 75-87

The loss of Mad-Bum really hurts this team. Although they made some nice additions to the offense, the pitching looks like it will struggle to stay afloat throughout the season.

Featured image by MLB.com

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