Saturday, February 27, 2016

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #2 Giants

2.  San Francisco Giants

Starting Position Players:  C Buster Posey, 1B  Brandon Belt, 2B  Joe Panik, 3B  Matt Duffy, SS  Brandon Crawford, LF  Angel Pagan, CF  Denard Span, RF  Hunter Pence.

Starting Rotation:  Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain.

Bullpen:  Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich, George Kontos, Chris Heston.

Bench:  C  Andrew Susac, IF  Kelby Tomlinson, IF Ehire Adrianza, OF  Gregor Blanco, OF  Jarrett Parker.

The Giants start with the single biggest positional advantage in baseball with Buster Posey at Catcher.  While no single other player is the best at their position, the overall IF might be the best in baseball with every player capable of putting up a 4+ WAR season.  Pence and Span give them 2 more players capable of 4 WAR seasons.  LF is the obvious weak link.  Pagan moves over from CF but would have to have a major bounceback season to be as good an option as Blanco and neither Pagan nor Blanco gives you the power you want from LF which leaves an opening for Parker or Mac Williamson or maybe Kyle Blanks to step up.

The rotation got a major facelift in the offseason with the additions of Cueto and Samardzija.  Cueto at his best is good enough to be considered a co-ace and the 2014 version of Samardzija is close to that.  Health is the big issue with Peavy and Cain, so there may be opportunities for Chris Heston to get back in the rotation and/or Clayton Blackburn to step up from being the best SP in the AAA PCL last year.  More on Cain later.

The bench is open for some competition with Blanco probably being the only one with a secure spot on the roster.  Tomlinson is close to being a lock too.  Susac has to defend his backup catcher job from rookie Trevor Brown who showed some defensive chops last September, and from veteran George Kottaras.  Adrianza is a terrific defensive SS, but has shown no stick at the MLB level so far.  He gained so weight over the winter to try to be stronger at the plate, but he'll be challenged by Hak-Ju Lee who was signed as a minor league FA over the winter or the Giants could go with just Tomlinson to back up 3 positions to make room for Blanks bat on the roster.  It's also possible they could rely on Blanco to back up all 3 OF positions and make room for Blanks by dropping Parker.

Health is going to be the big key to the season.  The best predictor of injury is prior injury and several roster members were beat up last season.  Cain is probably the biggest concern.  He really needed to have a smooth, injury-free spring, but is already on the shelf after the surgical removal of a cyst on his right arm.  The good news is it is just a cyst and therefore should heal quickly and not cause lingering problems.  The bad news is it was apparently more than just a simple cyst on the surface of the skin because Cain reportedly returned to Arizona with his arm in a sling.  At any rate, he's supposed to start throwing again in 10 days and spring training is at least 2 weeks too long anyway, so he should be ready to start the regular season on time.  Pagan, Span and Peavy are 3 more guys who have to prove they are still capable of staying healthy for a full season.

This is the strongest Giants team on paper going into the season that I can remember, stronger, IMO, than any of the 3 championship teams.  As we say, though, there is a reason why they play the games and keeping everybody healthy all season will be the key.


  1. Good analysis, except that's what we expect of you, doc!
    Baggarly kinda threw Ryan Raburn into the mix except for (1) he wants a ML contract and (2) he's a Mike Morse level fielder.
    IF healthy, going with 4 OFers as you mentioned as an option and letting Parker and Williamson duke it out in Sacramento has some appeal, unless one clearly wins a spot in ST a la Belt in 2011 (and that turned out so well). My favorite River Cat remains Ryan Lollis, seems to be a prototypical Giant hitter these days.
    Speaking of ST, I have tickets to the Giants Wednesday and Thursday. Anyone gonna be there?

    1. Raburn has weak defensive fWAR numbers, but over his career they're lots better than Morse's. But he looks to me like a very weak candidate for a fifth OF and pinch-hitter, because he is drastically inconsistent year by year, half-season by half- season, overall and in his platoon splits. Last year he mashed lefties? The year before, he didn't, and two years before that, he didn't. If wildly uneven relief pitchers don't stay on rosters--100% strand rate today but yesterday, off to the races--why would a team want to put wildly uneven hitters at bat in high-leverage situations, which is much of the time when pinch hitters appear?

  2. Replies
    1. I think he will be someday, but maybe not to start the season.

  3. The dark horse this season may be young starting Giants pitchers in the minors who may have breakout years and move up to help the parent team (as two or more of the current Giants starters falter) ; plus addition of a Williamson or Parker.