2016 Recap: 87-75, 2nd in the NL West. Lost in NLDS 3-1 to Chicago Cubs. It was an even year and Madison Bumgarner had just outdueled the Mets Noah Syndergaard in the NL Wild Card game, so it seemed that everything was lined up for the Giants to win another World Series title. Then the Giants ran into the unstoppable force known as the Chicago Cubs and their already weak bullpen imploded in the process. The Giants entered this offseason needing to address two major areas of need, relief pitcher and left field. Brian Sabean and company filled one of those needs by immediately signing former Pirates and Nats closer Mark Melancon. Left field however, they left unattended and are still searching for answers.
Significant Additions: RHP Mark Melancon, C Nick Hundley, INF Jae-gyun Hwang
Significant Subtractions: RHP Santiago Casilla, RHP Sergio Romo, OF Angel Pagan, OF Gregor Blanco
Projected Lineup and Breakdown:
- CF Denard Span
- 1B Brandon Belt
- C Buster Posey
- RF Hunter Pence
- SS Brandon Crawford
- 3B Eduardo Nunez
- 2B Joe Panik
- LF Jarrett Parker
This is a lineup in desperate need of some punch despite still having good balance top to bottom. San Fran finished third to last in the NL in homers in 2016 and had no one hit more than 17. All-Star catcher Buster Posey saw his power numbers (14 homers, .796 OPS) dip slightly for the second straight season and manager Bruce Bochy recently said he would try to get Posey more rest during the season as Posey hit just two home runs over the final two months of the season, including a dreadful .680 OPS in the month of September. There have been trade rumors surrounding the Giants and Ryan Braun for almost a year now and still nothing has become of the buzz. The Giants also turned down the opportunity to sign one of the big slugging first baseman that were available this offseason and switch Brandon Belt to left field full time, something they also should have strongly considered in an attempt to upgrade over Jarrett Parker.
Projected rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:
- LHP Madison Bumgarner
- RHP Johnny Cueto
- RHP Jeff Samardzija
- LHP Matt Moore
- RHP Matt Cain
- RHP Mark Melancon – Closer
- RHP Hunter Strickland
- LHP Will Smith
- RHP Cory Gearrin
- LHP Steven Okert
The key to the recent success of the Giants has been fueled by their starting pitching and that excellence should continue in 2017. You won’t find a much better 1-2 punch in all of baseball than the Giants combo of playoffs super hero Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, who has an ERA below 3.00 in five of the last six seasons. Jeff Samardzija hasn’t quite reached the potential he showed early in his career with the Cubs, but is still a solid mid-rotation innings eater at this point in his career. Matt Cain is no longer the Cy Young contender he once was mainly due to injuries and if it wasn’t for the amount of money the Giants still owed Cain, he might not even be guaranteed a rotation spot. Cain will need to keep the ball in the yard in 2017 (1.69 HR/9 the last two seasons) or he could quickly become a major liability for the Giants. The Giants bullpen was slightly above league average during 2016, but really imploded in the postseason against the Cubs. The Giants entered the ninth inning with a lead in Games 3 and 4 against the eventual world champions and proceeded to allow 6 runs total in those two games, both losses. Enter in free agent closer Mark Melancon who over the last four seasons with Pittsburgh and Washington totaled 147 saves and never had an ERA higher than 2.23 in any of the four seasons. Stability at the backend of a Giants pen that blew 32 saves in 2016 is essential if they plan on getting another ring.
Stud: SP Madison Bumgarner. 2.99 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 100 Wins and a strikeout rate of 8.89 per 9 innings. Those are Madison Bumgarner’s career numbers and that baseball fans is what we call a fantasy ace. Bumgarner will be one of the first starting pitchers to go during your draft and I personally have only Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer ahead of him. Take MadBum and enjoy the dominance all season long.
Sleeper: SP Matt Moore. Matt Moore is a guy who has been on fantasy sleeper lists several times in his career, but due to inconsistent performance and injuries Moore has never been able to put it all together. Moore has always been a high strikeout pitcher, but his major command issues (3.8 walks per 9 innings in his career) keep him from truly reaching his potential. After being traded to the Giants last summer Moore, used spacious AT&T Park to his advantage allowing just 5 home runs in 12 starts with Giants after allowing 20 home runs in 21 starts with the Rays before the trade. If Moore can ever get his walk rate down to even just 3 per 9 innings combined with his new home park we could finally see Moore reach his full potential. At age 28 and at his current draft price of the 45th starter and 178th player off the board, it is worth the risk of hoping for a Moore breakout.
Bust: OF Hunter Pence. Pence is still a nice player as he enters his age 34 season, but injuries have really started to take a toll on the Giants outfielder over the last two seasons. From 2008 to 2014, Pence never played less than 154 games in any season helping fantasy owners everyday from start to finish. However, Pence has played just 158 games total over the last two seasons and has become one of the bigger risks among outfielders after years of being one of the safest bets you could find. His current ADP of 45th outfielder and 204th overall player reflects the injury risk that comes with Pence, but even at a major discount I won’t be rushing out to grab Pence in many leagues this season. That late in your draft you’re better off looking for potential breakout candidates like Nomar Mazara (Current ADP 48th OF) and Max Kepler (ADP 54th OF) to finish out your starting fantasy lineup.
2017 prediction: Despite the huge McCovey Cove size hole in left field, the Giants will still be a really good team in 2017. Very few teams play the game as well as Bruce Bochy’s club does in all phases and you cannot bet against that over a 162 game season. 86-76, 2nd in the NL West. NL Wild Card 1 of 2.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo credit: Bay Area News Group
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 2/24/17