Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: San Francisco Giants


The streak was broken!  For the first time since 2008, the Giants did not emerge as champions on an even numbered year.  Another streak that has lasted just as long as missing the playoffs on odd numbered years.  Will that continue in 2017?

My 2016 Predictions
1st in NL West, win World Series
The San Francisco Giants come home with MVP, Cy Young, and World Series trophies.

2016 Results
87-75, 2nd in NL West, WILD CARD, lost in NLDS
Last year, I was sticking with the streak until it proved me wrong.  Well, it proved me wrong in 2016.  The Giants even made the playoffs!  They had shown over the last decade that they were unstoppable as long as they make the postseason.  Madison Bumgarner did prove he is more than just a postseason pitcher as he had a dominant season, finishing 4th in the Cy Young voting.  Buster Posey was solid but not quite dominant in his season.  They were really good, but they ran into history when they lost to the Cubs.

Additions / Subtractions
The Giants had a huge offseason in 2016, signing both Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to bolster the rotation.  Picking up Matt Moore and Eduardo Nunez in mid-season trades are huge bonuses moving into 2017.  However, if there has been one weakness for the Giants during this amazing run they have had, it has been their bullpen.  In 2010, 2012, and 2014, three different pitchers closed out the final game, including MadBum in 2014 because Bruce Bochy didn't trust anyone in the bullpen.  They tried to address this this offseason by signing closer Mark Melancon.  For the first time in awhile, the ninth inning will be taken care of in 2017.

Most Important Hitter
Joe Panik
The core of the Giants have been together for awhile.  They are starting to age.  One of the younger kids in their lineup is second baseman Joe Panik.  Panik burst on the scene in 2014 as he became one of the stars of their postseason run.  He followed that up with a strong 2015, making his first All Star Team.  2016 was a massive disappointment as his bat fell asleep for the entire season.  With the age of the Giants' roster, guys like Panik need to step up and show they can become stars for this team.

Most Important Pitcher
Jeff Samardzija
The Giants were expecting great things from their two big signings last year.  Johnny Cueto didn't disappoint as he competed with Madisno Bumgarner for best pitcher on the team.  Although Jeff Samardzija wasn't bad, he also was much less than dominant.  Samardzija has had a few down seasons recently since he left the Cubs.  The Giants were hoping he would emerge as the third ace on the staff, making them near unbeatable.  Now, he is entering the 2017 season not even as their third starter as Matt Moore has passed him up.  Samardzija needs to start to pitch like he is being paid; as an elite superstar in the game.

Player to Watch
Tyler Beede
Outside of the bullpen, another weakness of the Giants' organization over this current run has been their farm system.  They have maintained their aging core, trading prospects to help win now.  This has led to a system that is in the bottom third of the league, sporting just two prospects in baseball's Top 100.  Their top prospect might be a difference maker down the stretch in 2017.  Tyler Beede is a 23 year old starting pitcher that has been working his way up through the Giants' system since he was drafted in 2014.  Look for him to either be a contributor near the end of the season or be a key piece in another trade to help the Giants win now.

2017 Prediction
3rd in NL West
Ten teams make the playoffs.  I have the Giants 11th.  They will be the best team to not make October this season.  They have a strong roster top to bottom as they do every year, however it is hard for a team like this to hold up throughout the full season.  Their age is going to catch up with them, leading to potential injuries.  Injuries will challenge depth, which the Giants lack.  Look for a bounceback in 2018, but the window for this current Giants group is closing quickly.

Fearless Prediction
Buster Posey and Hunter Pence will miss a combined total of 162+ games.
When the Giants struggle, it is because of injuries to key bats in their order.  The heart and soul of their lineup are Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.  When Posey stays healthy, the Giants succeed.  To help with this, Posey is playing more and more first base to avoid the grind of catching every day.  Hunter Pence has been marred by injuries the last two seasons.  Before that, he played every day.  His body appears to be breaking down though.  Injuries to these two will slow this team down enough to keep them away from where they want to be.

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