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San Francisco Giants 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Buster Posey

Buster Posey

The Giants could do no right in 2017. Even when Pablo Sandoval ended the regular season with a walk-off home run, giving the crowd at AT&T Park a rare thrill at the end of a forgettable summer, it cost the organization the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Giants found themselves at a crossroads over the winter: Tear down a club whose 64–98 record matched the Detroit Tigers for the worst in baseball? Or continue to build around a core of former champions — Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik — who still don’t have much gray around the temples? They chose the latter, and after a failed dalliance at Giancarlo Stanton, they demonstrated their resolve by trading their top infield prospect, 22-year-old Christian Arroyo, for 32-year-old third baseman Evan Longoria, and then later acquired 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh. Now, the Giants will have to convince their fans that a turnaround in 2018 is more than a pipe dream.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the GIANTS

“The Giants still think they can win, so they just can’t get rid of their core players, but they’re not the same guys because they can’t post up every day. It’s a deep hole, and it comes quick. They can sort out the bullpen behind Mark Melancon, but his salary makes him tough to move if they don’t contend, which they won’t. Madison Bumgarner looked fine when he came back, and they can count on him for innings, with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. But there’s not much in the No. 4-5 spots, and they don’t have much offense, either. They really should build a track team to take advantage of the gaps in that outfield, but they don’t have that. Yet they don’t have power, either, so how are they going to score runs? At least Buster Posey has not declined, because he goes the other way with the ball and adjusts quickly at the plate. And while Evan Longoria wasn’t himself last season, I think he’ll be rejuvenated with the Giants and give them some pop.”

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Beyond the Box Score

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Strong Start

Not only did Madison Bumgarner become the first pitcher in MLB history to hit two home runs on Opening Day, but he also took a perfect game into the sixth inning while striking out 11 at Arizona. In a sign of things to come, though, the Giants bullpen blew a pair of leads and lost to the Diamondbacks. Bumgarner became the first pitcher to hit two homers and strike out at least 10 in any game since Rick Wise did it for the Phillies in 1971. 

Cain Was Able

Matt Cain didn’t go out at the top of his game, but he received a fittingly warm farewell after announcing his retirement following a 13-year career spent entirely in a Giants uniform. Cain’s 104–118 record appears unremarkable, but Giants fans understand that he suffered from critically low run support most of the way. A better barometer of his legacy: third all-time in the San Francisco era in innings pitched (behind Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry), third all-time in strikeouts (behind Marichal and Tim Lincecum) and a lower career postseason ERA than even Bumgarner as he helped end a 56-year wait for a World Championship in San Francisco — and then started all three series clinchers as they won another in 2012. 

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Take Your Pick

Despite matching the Tigers for the worst record in baseball, the Giants will hold the second overall draft pick in June by virtue of having a better record than Detroit (by just a half-game) in 2016. Still, it will be the highest the Giants have drafted since they selected Will Clark with the second overall pick in 1985. Their other top picks since taking Clark include Matt Williams (third overall in 1986) and Buster Posey (fifth overall in 2008).

Full Circle

When the Giants acquired Evan Longoria from the Rays, it completed a rather odd circle of transactions. First, they dealt third baseman Matt Duffy to Tampa Bay in July 2016, for Matt Moore. Duffy was saddened to leave the Giants but expressed excitement to play alongside Longoria, a fellow Long Beach State alum whom he grew up idolizing. Just a year later, the Giants traded Moore for salary relief … so they could pluck Longoria from the Rays.

Good Company

Longoria has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past five seasons and nine of his first 10 campaigns in the big leagues. Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews is the only other third baseman in MLB history to hit at least 20 homers in nine of his first 10 big-league seasons. 

Projected Lineup

LINEUP
CF    Austin Jackson (R)
2B    Joe Panik (L)
C      Buster Posey (R)
RF    Andrew McCutchen (R)
3B    Evan Longoria (R)
1B    Brandon Belt (L)
SS    Brandon Crawford (L)
LF    Hunter Pence (R)
BENCH
C        Nick Hundley (R)
INF     Kelby Tomlinson (R)
INF     Pablo Sandoval (S)
OF     Gorkys Hernandez (R)
OF     Jarrett Parker (L)
ROTATION
LHP     Madison Bumgarner
RHP     Johnny Cueto
RHP     Jeff Samardzija
RHP     Chris Stratton
RHP     Tyler Beede
BULLPEN
RHP     Mark Melancon 

RHP     Sam Dyson

RHP     Hunter Strickland

LHP     Ty Blach
RHP     Derek Law
RHP     Cory Gearrin
LHP     Will Smith