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San Francisco Giants 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey

After two seasons of desperately trying to patch holes around an accomplished but aging core, the Giants are embracing a fresh perspective with new leadership. They lured away former Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi with a five-year contract and a club president title that gives him full authority over all roster decisions, as executive vice president Brian Sabean steps aside into an advisory role. Sabean and deposed GM Bobby Evans gave it one last shot in 2018 by acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but injuries overwhelmed every area of the club, and the Giants were unable to build momentum. Now they are seeking a reboot, if not a full rebuild. 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Giants

“They got old and slow really quick, but it’s hard for anyone to overcome injuries to your top three starters, and the Giants sure didn’t. Now they’re stuck with crippling contracts of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, and an uncertain future for Madison Bumgarner as he heads into his walk year. Dereck Rodriguez did a nice job in that rotation, but there’s not much for new GM Farhan Zaidi to work with as he tries to reconstruct this team. Evan Longoria fell off a cliff last season, and he’s signed for four more years. Buster Posey’s coming back from hip surgery, and who knows how much he’ll be able to catch anymore. There’s no power in the lineup. Mark Melancon’s making $14 million, and he’s no sure thing to be the closer anymore, with the way Will Smith pitched last season. Zaidi was known for his creativity with the A’s and Dodgers, and I’m sure they’ll use ‘openers’ here to make up for their lack of starting pitching. I don’t see how he turns this thing around anytime soon, but it will be fascinating to see him try.”

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Beyond the Box Score

Hurt Hands The Giants had 1,101 total player days on the disabled list in 2018, which ranked middle of the pack (15th) in the major leagues. But the injuries hit them where it hurt most, including a trio of fractured fifth metacarpals. Madison Bumgarner didn’t debut until June 5 because of his fractured hand. Evan Longoria missed 34 games because of his hand fracture. If bad things come in threes, then Hunter Strickland’s fracture completed the trifecta. But Strickland, who had been performing well in the closer role, only had himself to blame. He broke his hand June 18 when he punched a door out of frustration after a rough outing. The Giants non-tendered the hotheaded reliever after the season.

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Marathon Meeting

Brandon Belt didn’t win the battle, but he put himself in the record books with a 21-pitch at-bat on April 22 at Anaheim. Belt faced Angels pitcher Jaime Barria in a plate appearance that lasted 12 minutes, 45 seconds and included 16 foul balls before the confrontation finally ended with a lineout to right field. The at-bat was the longest at least since 1988, the year Major League Baseball began keeping accurate pitch count records. The previous mark was held by Ricky Gutierrez of the Astros, who battled the Indians’ Bartolo Colon for 20 pitches in an at-bat in 1998. 


Two-way Bumgarner didn’t hit a home run in 2018 for the first time in five years, but he came off the bench to line a walk-off single in the 12th inning on September 25 against San Diego. He became the first pitcher with a game-ending RBI since the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo in 2014 and the first Giants pitcher to accomplish the feat since Don Robinson in 1990. While Bumgarner’s whiff rate dipped on the mound, he did record his 1,500th career strikeout in his 239th career game on June 27 — becoming the fourth-fastest lefthander to reach the milestone in the live-ball era. Only Randy Johnson (206 games), Clayton Kershaw (218) and David Price (236) did it faster.

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Farewell The Giants said farewell to one of the most popular players in franchise history when Hunter Pence addressed the crowd in the final game of the season. The Giants did not seek to re-sign Pence, who was undeterred despite several years of injuries and diminished skills and went to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic in a bid to overhaul his game. Regardless of how his tenure with the Giants ended, Pence remained ebullient to the end. He predicted brighter days ahead for the franchise, telling a wet-eyed crowd, “The darkest hour of the night is just before the dawn.” 


Projected Lineup

LINEUP

CF  Steven Duggar (L)
1B  Brandon Belt (L)
C    Buster Posey (R)
SS   Brandon Crawford (L)
3B   Evan Longoria (R)
LF   Mac Williamson (R)
2B   Joe Panik (L)
RF   Austin Slater (R)

BENCH

INF  Pablo Sandoval (S)
UT   Alen Hanson (S)
C     Aramis Garcia (R)
OF   Drew Ferguson (R)
OF   Gerardo Parra (L)

ROTATION

LHP  Madison Bumgarner
RHP  Dereck Rodriguez
LHP  Andrew Suarez
RHP  Chris Stratton
RHP  Jeff Samardzija

BULLPEN

LHP  Will Smith (C)
LHP  Ty Blach
RHP  Ray Black
RHP  Reyes Moronta
RHP  Mark Melancon
LHP  Tony Watson
RHP  Sam Dyson

2019 PREDICTION

5th NL West