2019 MLB Preview: San Francisco Giants
Will Giants Rebuild?
In 2018, the San Francisco Giants (73-19) recorded their second straight losing season. In 2016, SF had made the NL playoffs as a wild card, putting up an 87-75 record. Just two years prior, in 2014, after earning a wild card berth, they ran the table winning the World Series. Our 2019 San Francisco Giants preview does not see this team making great strides this season. Last year, their top three starters went down with injuries and everyone underperformed. Plus, their offense was one of the worst in the majors. The major problem with the Giants is they are a team that has aged quickly, and management has done nothing to improve their lot.
In 2018, the pitching was mediocre to poor, as the Giants finished 13th in the majors in ERA at 3.95. They were 18th in opponent batting average (.251) and tied for 24th in saves (38). The staff’s 73 wins tied them for 21st. San Francisco had one pitcher who recorded double-digit wins. That was their number five starter Chris Stratton who was 10-10.
There’s nothing more than the Giants would like than to see their ace Madison Bumgarner (6-7 W/L, 3.26 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) get back to his old form. The lefty ace has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons. He offers a pastiche of cutters, four-seamers, and curves. But to be effective, the soon-to-be 30-year-old must stay in good health. Righty Jeff Samardzija (1-5 W/L, 6.25 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) has been a major underperformer. In 2017, he was a solid strike-thrower, but, in a 2018 season that was truncated by injury, he was terrible. If healthy, our San Francisco Giants preview sees him as certainly being a sound number two starter.
Third in the rotation is Andrew Suarez (7-13 W/L, 4.49 ERA, 1.30 WHIP). As a rookie last season, he showed fine control in the first half. His slider proved to be effective even though his overall numbers were not impressive. There’s potential here. Two righties will most likely fill the fourth and fifth spots. Dereck Rodriguez (6-4 W/L, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) and Chris Stratton (10-10 W/L, 5.09 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) are the candidates. Rodriguez 2.81 ERA last year was the 10th lowest by a San Fran hurler with a minimum of 100 innings since 1976. Stratton was the only SF pitcher to post double-digit wins last year.
In relief, lefty Tony Watson (2-6 W/L, 2.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) is an effective workhorse. He’s the only Giants reliever who has made 70 or more appearances in each of the last four seasons. Righty Mark Melancon (1-4 W/L, 3.23 ERA, 1.59 WHIP), once a top closer, has struggled the last two seasons. He could end up setting up in 2019. We anticipate lefty Will Smith (2-3 W/L, 2.55 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) to compete for the closer role. He tied Hunter Strickland for the most saves by a SF pitcher last season with 14.
Our San Francisco Giants preview notes that it’s hard to score runs when you’re not hitting. The Giants were 29th in runs with 603 and 25th in batting average (.239). They were also 29th in homers (133), RBI (573), OPS (.667), and slugging percentage (.368). Their best offensive stat was stolen bases, which totaled 77 (tied 15th). The Giants were 17th in MLB in men LOB with 1,101. To say that things look bleak for the San Francisco Giants would be an understatement.
The top of the order features center fielder Steven Duggar (.255 BA, 17 RBI, 2 HRs). How good of a hitter he can be is left to be seen. He did see quite a bit of action in July and August last season with mixed results. He did steal five bases. Catcher Buster Posey (.284 BA, 41 RBI, 5 HRs), noted for his bat, saw the wheels go off the cart when he suffered a season-ending hip injury. He’s up. The third and fourth batters should have more to offer than they did last season. Look for two noted vets, Brandon Belt (.253 BA, 46 RBI, 14 HRs) and Evan Longoria (.244 BA, 54 RBI, 16 HRs), to occupy those spots.
In the fifth spot is Brandon Crawford (.254 BA, 54 RBI, 14 HRs). Like so many other hitters on this team, age seemed to downgrade his metrics last year. Mac Williamson (.213 BA, 11 RBI, 4 HRs), who played in Triple-A and for the Giants in 2018, was hampered by a concussion. The seventh spot in the order could be occupied by left field Chris Shaw, a rookie who has 24 dingers in Triple-A last season. Second baseman Joe Panik (.254 BA, 24 RBI, 4 HRs) rarely strikes out. He hits last.
Catcher Posey is noted for being both a top defensive and offensive player. But he’s lost quite a bit in both areas over the last two years. In the middle of the infield, Panik at second is average, while at short Crawford is still a premium player. Belt offers fine defense at first. Longoria is definitely skilled at third, but also a player in decline. Duggar is a better-than-average centerfielder. Overall, he’s a very sound defender with fine speed. Neither Williamson in right nor Shaw in left are likely to last the season.
Management and Front Office
What can new president and GM Farhan Zaidi do with this team that others have not done recently? Perhaps make them a winner again? Zaidi comes to SF from the arch-rival LA Dodgers. And our San Francisco Giants preview expects that he’ll be looking to shake things up. At this point, we don’t expect long-time manager Bruce Bochy, who earned three rings with this team, to go anywhere. Bochy certainly knows the game and this team. Then again, we do expect him to be jettisoned if things don’t improve. That’s inevitable.
2019 San Francisco Giants Preview: Final Word
Our San Francisco Giants preview find that this baseball club has a few very important things going against it. They have some decent but untested talent and a group of aging players who are susceptible to injury. There’s almost no choice but to rebuild in a drastic manner. If San Fran crashes and burns this season expect big changes to occur. Our 2019 San Francisco Giants preview sees them as losing four more games than they did last season. That will secure this team last place in the division.