Sunday, April 1, 2012

San Francisco Giants Preview/Prediction

Our next post takes us up to Northern California where the Giants are trying to get back into the playoffs after winning the World Series two years ago.  They won on the strength of their pitching then and they will win on the strength of their pitching now.

Infield: Buster Posey at catcher, Aubrey Huff at first base, Emmanuel Burriss at second base, Brandon Crawford at shortstop, and Pablo Sandoval at third base.

Buster Posey suffered a horrific injury last year with a collision at home plate and missed four months of the season.  When healthy Posey was the best hitter on this team and if he is healthy again like he says, he will be a force to be reckoned with.  I think that Posey will be back and will have another fantastic year.  As of right now Huff is the first baseman, but if he struggles out of the gate like he did last year manger Bruce Bochy will quickly go to youngster Brandon Belt.  I think that the Giants should start Belt at first base, and I think he will be by the end of May.  Aubrey Huff will continue to backslide like he did in 2011 and open up the door for Belt to crash through.  Emmanuel Burriss is the second baseman by default as all better options have been exhausted.  Burriss is a career .250 hitter with little speed and even less pop in his bat.  Freddy Sanchez will be the regular second baseman when healthy but until he comes back the job belongs to Burriss.  As soon as Sanchez does come back he will be the guy.  Brandon Crawford is a slick fielding no hit shortstop with a career .204 average.  He has drawn comparisons to Omar Vizquel with his glove, and if he can hit like Omar did 20 years ago he will be a very good shortstop for a long time.  If he can't hit like Omar he can still carve a niche as a great defensive shortstop and can still find work for a few years, kind of like Ray Ordonez did.  Pablo Sandoval had a great 2009 and 2011, sandwiched around a horrendous 2010.  So the question is which is the real Pablo Sandoval?  I think 2010 was an aberration and he will have another good season.

Who will have the best season of these guys? It has to be Posey.  He will be fully healed and will hit over .300.  He will also hit 15 home runs and will lead the team in doubles, runs scored and runs batted in.  He will regain his all-star form of 2010 and will have a great season.

Outfield: Melky Cabrera in left field, Angel Pagan in center field, and Nate Schierholtz in right field.

Melky Cabrera came over from the Royals in the trade for Jonathan Sanchez and this will be his fourth team in four years.  I think that he will have a decent year this year but will not replicate his numbers from last year.  I think expecting a .305 average with 18 home runs is a little much, but .280 with 12-15 home runs is not out of reach.  Angel Pagan had 32 stolen bases last year and is slated to be the lead off hitter for this team on opening day.  If he wants to keep the lead off spot he needs to hit better than .262 or he won't be long for that job.  I don't think he will be too much better and I think that when Freddy Sanchez comes back he will be in the lead off spot.  Schierholtz has never been a regular for a full season and there is good reason for it..  He hits right handers very well but he does struggle against lefties.  If he is a platoon with a guy who can hit lefties the Giants will have a good amount of production coming from right field.

Who will have the best season of these guys? None of these three inspire much confidence so I am going to say Melky Cabrera will have the best season.  Those numbers that I mentioned above will be better than both Angel Pagan and Schierholtz so the award will go to Cabrera.

Starting Pitching: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, and Ryan Vogelsong.

Tim Lincecum definitely lives up to his nickname of "the freak".  He will be in the running for his third Cy Young, will strike out 200 hitters again, and will once again receive very little run support.  Last year he only got 3.82 runs per start which is the worst for any starting pitcher in all of baseball.  He will bring it on his end but he needs the offense to score him a couple runs in order to get some wins.  Matt Cain is the model of consistency when it comes to starting pitchers.  In the last 6 years he has never had less than 163 strikeouts and more than 186.  He hasn't won very many games in the last few years either and actually has a career losing record but most of that is owed to the anemic offense he has pitched with the last few years.  This season will be no different as the offense won't do him many favors but he continue to pitch well.  Bumgarner came out of nowhere as a 20 year old in 2010 in helping the Giants win the World Series.  Now at 22 he has all the makings of being a star.  Even though he went 13-13 last year he did have an ERA of 3.21 and had 191 strikeouts.  Now that the kid gloves are fully off I expect him to have a great year as long as the offense can score a few runs.  Do you see a theme here?  Barry Zito has been an absolute disgrace since he signed that ill fated deal in 2007.  He is making $19 million dollars a year and can not pitch his way out of a wet paper bag anymore.  The Giants only have to worry about this albatross of a contract for another two years and you can bet they are counting down the days til he is gone.  Ryan Vogelsong came out of nowhere to have a career year in 2011.  Vogelsong is 34 years old and I don't see him doing it again this year.  I think he regresses closer to his career average of an ERA around 4.50.  Do not trust what he did last year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Tim Lincecum will continue to dominate hitters the way he has since he was drafted and will have the best season.  He could win his third Cy Young and no one would be surprised.  What will be a surprise is if he has an ERA over 3 this year.

Bullpen: Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, and Santiago Casilla.

Brian Wilson is battling elbow injuries this spring but he should be ready for the start of the season.  The bigger questions is which Brian Wilson will show up?  Will it be the one that was so dominating in 2010 or the one that struggled with decreased velocity in 2011.  I think Wilson is done as a dominant closer and that will be revealed this year.  If Wilson can't be a successful closer look for Sergio Romo to take over as the closer for the Giants.  His last two years have been all-star worthy for a closer, and it is only a matter of time before the Giants front office realize he is the best reliever they have.  Jeremy Affeldt is a ground ball specialist who is great against left handed batters.  He also has been in a pressure situation before with the Giants and has stepped up and succeeded.  I have full confidence that Affeldt will be productive in whatever role Bochy decides to put him in.  Casilla has pitched more than 50 innings the last 2 years and has an ERA under 2.  Only 4 relievers can say they have those numbers which puts him in pretty rare company.  He is a very effective reliever and he will have another good year.  If Wilson can't close it will be interesting to see who they tab as the closer, it could be Romo or Casilla.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Romo and Casilla will both have better seasons than Wilson, and I think Romo will have the better season of the two.  He has been lights out for four years now, while Casilla has only 2, plus he averages more strike outs.  I think Romo has the ability to be an all-star closer.

Record: 91-71, second in the National League West, winning one of the two wild cards.

Next up:  Seattle Mariners

1 comment:

  1. Nice analysis, Brian. If they can all stay healthy this year, I think 1st place in the NL West is possible. I also hope this is the year a couple more of their pitchers get more national recognition, particularly Cain and Casilla.