San Francisco (77-85) finished in 3rd place 29 games back of the 1st place Dodgers. That almost sounds unreal to be in 3rd place and that far back but the Dodgers were just that good.
The Giants were 8 games behind 2nd place Arizona and 6 games ahead of 4th place Colorado and 7 games ahead of last-place San Diego. The Giants were still 12 games from reaching a wildcard spot in 2019.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OF Mike Yastrzemski (I would almost hate to have that last name and play in the major leagues. He sure took his time getting here. The 28-year old rookie had a nice debut with the Giants last season but needs to prove it was no fluke this season. He hit .272 with 21 home runs & 55 rbi’s and scored 64 runs in 107 games. He did not face many lefties in his first season which I am sure helped his numbers some, so let’s see how he does with a little more exposure this season)
C Buster Posey (All good things must come to an end and after looking at the last two years what Buster has done, I’m afraid he is finished. All of his stats are heading in the wrong direction and not by just a little either. I am sure it helps to have a teammate like him around, but how much longer can they afford to keep getting numbers like his from his position? A .257 batting average is acceptable, but 7 homers, 38 rbi’s, 43 runs scored and just 104 hits are not what they are used to getting from him. STranger things have happened I guess)
1B Brandon Belt (They say if Brandon played somewhere other than San Francisco his home run totals would rival other first basemen as he has hit 82 on the road vs 47 dingers at home in his career. His batting average dropped to .234 last season but he did hit 17 home runs with 57 rbi’s and scored 76 runs. I keep getting the feeling he can do so much more, but even so, he still puts out some decent numbers. I get the feeling one of these seasons he is going to hit 30 homers)
3B Evan Longoria (Evan’s numbers have dropped since he joined the Giants two years ago after playing 10 years for Tampa Bay. Last year his average went up 10 points from 2018 to .254 as did his home runs from 16 to 20 as well as rbi’s from 54 to 69. Everything else went down. But as his age, I think the Giants would be ok if he can match last season’s numbers, anything above those would be gravy. I look for Buster to hang on until the next catcher is ready to take over for him)
OF Alex Dickerson (To say Alex has an injury problem would be an understatement. He has looked promising when he has been on the field which has not been much. He has 435 at-bats since 2015 when he made his debut with San Diego. He played 11 games in 2015, missed all of 2017 & 2018 and only had 12 games with San Diego last year before getting traded to San Francisco where he played in 56 games, so let’s go with the stats in those games. He hit .290 with 6 home runs & 26 rbi’s and 28 runs scored in 155 at-bats while with the Giants. So he did look pretty good while on the field. Before the season was stopped last week Dickerson looked good and was healthy this spring)
SS Brandon Crawford (His .228 batting average was his lowest since his rookie season back in 2011, along with that came his lowest hits (114) since 2012. Most everything else has dropped slightly as well but not enough to be a concern, at least yet. He did hit 11 home runs with 59 rbi’s while scoring 58 runs in 147 games. Although his defense has slipped a little bit, he is still very reliable, just not the gold glove caliber anymore)
2B Mauricio Dubon (With just one year’s experience under his belt, if you want to call it that (30 games & 104 at-bats) he has been named the starter at second base. I guess for just 106 plate appearances he did alright hitting .274 with 4 home runs & 9 rbi’s with 12 runs scored. He had 29 hits with 3 stolen bases. It is a little too early to tell for me but someone in San Francisco thinks highly of him)
OF Hunter Pence (Hunter resigned with the team this offseason after hitting .297 last season with Texas. It was the 4th best batting average of his career. He credits working with hitting guru Doug Latta in helping him change his approach and swing. He hit 18 home runs and drove in 59 runs while scoring 53 runs, he also stole 6 bases. That is not bad for a guy who was talked out of retiring last season)
RHP Johnny Cueto (Johnny made just 4 starts last season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2018. 2018 was not much better making just 8 starts, so you have to go back three years to when Cueto last pitched the bulk of a season, even then it was 25 starts. With the past two seasons a wash, we will look at 2017 when he went 8-8 with a 4.52 era, but he still gave up more than a hit an inning pitched and his strikeouts were down from years past. I don’t think we will ever see the Cueto we saw in Cincinnati, then again he is 34-years old as well even if was healthy)
RHP Jeff Samardzija (Jeff bounced back from an injury-plagued 2018 nicely last season. He went 11-12 with a 3.25 era and a decent 1.11 WHIP. He allowed just 152 hits in 181.1 innings pitched. He has never been a big strikeout pitcher so his 140 strikeouts were no big deal. At 35 years old he gave the team 35 starts last season. It probably helps that he pitches in a pitchers park in his declining years)
RHP Kevin Gausman (Kevin had two seasons last year. One with Atlanta as a starter that did not go well at all and one with Cincinnati as a reliever that went very well. His failure in Atlanta I think had to do with pitching with a sore shoulder. In 16 starts he went 3-7 with a 6.19 era before getting traded at the deadline to Cincinnati where they put him in the bullpen where his era dropped to 4.03 and he struck out a third of the batters he faced. Maybe his sore arm got more rest throwing out of the pen. The plan is for him to return to the rotation where he pitched his entire career. He has had some decent numbers pitching for some bad Baltimore teams over the years, so I think he is more than capable of a few winning seasons in San Francisco)
LHP Drew Smyly (At best Drew is a backend rotation type of guy at this point in his career. Although he is just 30 and has pitched just 6 years in the majors, his first three seasons he had solid eras, but the last three have taken a nosedive. Could he have a comeback? Sure. Is it likey? No, not based on recent history. I think his future is geared more towards the bullpen, but why not give him one final try as a starter?)
RHP Tyler Beede (Tyler was the choice to be the 5th starter but an injury has him out until at least July 1st, so even with the work stoppage he will not be ready to start the season. Logan Webb was the other guy in the running who will probably be the guy who they were hoping to wait on until later in the season but may start him now and keep an eye on his innings pitched. Webb started 8 games last season pitching just 39.2 innings going 2-3 with a 5.22 era. On a side note, Logan missed the 80 games of the season after being suspended for ped use before being called up in August. He has raw talent with plenty of room for improvement)
CLOSER – LHP Tony Watson (Tony last had 10 saves for Pittsburgh back in 2017 and has had no saves since. I know San Fran lost their closer, Will Smith, to the Braves in the offseason and are starting from scratch I guess, so I guess that would explain making Watson your closer. He was 2-2 with a 4.17 era and 3 blown saves with 25 holds. The year before he had 32 holds. Last year he gave up 56 hits in 54 innings pitched and struck out only 41. It sounds like he had some base runners every inning he pitched and trouble to work out of. That is not what you want out of your closer. I wish him well this season, he is going to need it)
There is a reason this line is just 68½ from a team that won 77 games last season. This team has some old players on it and a few players that are almost too young and still have a lot to prove. It really is not a good combination. Throw in the injured guys like Cueto who may never be the same again and more than likely this team is going to really suffer this season. It is almost hard to imagine a team like the Giants having that bad of a record and it is a scary bet putting money on such a thing, but I feel it is the smart and right choice. I am all over the “under”.