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San Francisco Giants 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

San Francisco Giants 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

San Francisco Giants 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

The Giants missed the postseason by the thinnest of margins in 2020, losing an arbitrary tiebreaker based on intra-divisional record to the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite their disappointment, the Giants were far more relevant than anyone had a right to expect, even in an abbreviated season, as manager Gabe Kapler moved pieces while squeezing the most out of a rebuilding roster. The Giants rescued themselves from an 8–16 start, and their most dramatic improvement came on the offensive side, where Mike Yastrzemski established himself as a star, and a reconfigured Oracle Park — the center field fence is 10 feet snugger, and wind cloth blocked breezes through the archways in right field — led to an entirely different experience in a ballpark that always played huge to anyone not named Barry Bonds. Still, a 29–31 record can only provide so much satisfaction.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Giants

"I'm convinced they're a sleeping giant. They've got four huge contracts coming off the books after this year in Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford, which will free them up to do whatever they want. For now, Farhan Zaidi is investing in platoons, which Gabe Kapler loves, and building the kind of rosters he had with the Dodgers and the A's, fighting for every little edge at the margins and giving a chance to some overlooked guys like Alex Dickerson, Donovan Solano and especially Mike Yastrzemski, who are a little bit older but were just stuck in the wrong organizations. And I'm starting to wonder if they're one of these teams with a new kind of secret sauce for pitching — look how Kevin Gausman came into his own last year. Now they'll try to do the same thing with Anthony DeSclafani, and I think he's a sleeper bounce-back candidate. They won't contend for the division title, not with the Dodgers being so strong, but they took a good step forward last season, and I'd expect to see another this year."

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Beyond the Box Score

Coach 'em up Hitting coaches Donnie Ecker, Justin Viele, and Dustin Lind earned rave reviews for the results they achieved in their first season on the job. They preached selective aggressiveness, and players up and down the roster bought into the philosophy while combining early-count patience with a knack for two-strike hitting. The Giants finished second in the majors with a .623 OPS while hitting with two strikes. They led the majors with a .201 average in two-strike counts.

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2021 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Captain Clutch

Mike Yastrzemski's grandfather was called "Captain Carl" in Boston. The grandson could be called "Captain Clutch." Yaz the younger led the majors with a 2.9 Win Probability Added as he consistently came up with big hits. Yastrzemski's 10 go-ahead RBIs led the team, and he had four game-winning RBIs. In a July 29 game vs. San Diego, his second home run of the day was a walk-off shot in the ninth inning. It was just the third walk-off homer to splash in McCovey Cove in the ballpark's two-decade history. Barry Bonds and Brandon Crawford own the other walk-off splash landings.

Day to remember Alex Dickerson had one of the greatest offensive games in franchise history at Coors Field on Sept. 1. He hit three home runs and added two doubles to match the franchise's single-game record of 16 total bases. He stands alongside Willie Mays, who totaled 16 bases in his four-homer game on April 30, 1961. Dickerson also tied a major league record with five extra-base hits in a game. He joined the Cubs' Kris Bryant (in 2016) and the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter (in 2018) as the only players in modern history to hit three homers and two doubles in a game. Dickerson also became the first Giant to score five runs and drive in at least five runs in a game since Phil Weintraub did it twice against the Dodgers during the 1944 season.

West Coast Bobby Bo The highest-paid Giants player in 2020 never played an inning for the club. He never even made it to spring training. Because the Giants released infielder Zack Cozart before players reported to camp in February, they were on the hook for the full amount of his $12.67 million salary. The Giants took on Cozart's contract a few months earlier, agreeing to provide salary relief to the Angels while essentially buying infield prospect Will Wilson, a former first-round pick. Because every other salary was prorated, Cozart ended up being the Giants' highest-paid player despite never being in their plans.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

RF     Mike Yastrzemski (L)

LF     Alex Dickerson (L)

2B     Donovan Solano (R)

1B     Brandon Belt (L)

C      Buster Posey (R)

SS     Brandon Crawford (L)

3B     Evan Longoria (R)

CF     Mauricio Dubon (R)

BENCH

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C      Chadwick Tromp (R)

OF    Austin Slater (R)

INF   Wilmer Flores (R)

INF   Tommy La Stella (L)

C      Curt Casali (R)

ROTATION

RHP     Kevin Gausman

RHP     Johnny Cueto

RHP     Anthony DeSclafani

RHP     Logan Webb

RHP     Tyler Beede

BULLPEN

RHP     Tyler Rogers (C)

RHP     Matt Wisler

LHP     Jake McGee

RHP     Trevor Gott

RHP     John Brebbie

LHP     Wandy Peralta

LHP     Alex Wood

RHP     Sam Semlan

2021 Prediction: 4th in NL West

(Buster Posey photo courtesy of @Giants)