2018 Season Preview San Francisco Giants
The 2018 San Francisco Giants really have nowhere to go but up. It seemed like they could not shrug off their series-ending bullpen collapse against the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 National League Division series, and that debacle seemed to linger with them all year long in 2017. After all, they finished with a 64–98 record last year, which put them in dead last place in the both the National League West division and the National League and secured them with their worst record in 32 years.
Fast-tracking their way back
But rather than looking the current situation as needing a total tear down or rebuild, team President Brian Sabean and General Manager Bobby Evans went the other way: taking an aggressive approach to bolstering the team and fast-tracking their way back into contention in the National League.
That modus operandi was best demonstrated by the acquisitions of Andrew McCutchen, brought over from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Evan Longoria, brought over from the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year, the Giants were among the 10 worst teams in all of baseball in batting average, the second-worst team in baseball in terms of runs scored, and dead last in both home runs hit and OPS. Not only did the Giants bring in two players who can bring instant credibility to the lineup and put fans in seats, but they did so without trading away a single one of their top prospects.
A rising tide raises all ships
They’ll be looking at McCutchen and Longoria to also reinvigorate guys like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik, who all struggled a year ago. Conversely, the two new guys could also help keep Buster Posey going, after having something of a renaissance season last year himself. As the saying goes: a rising tide raises all ships, and San Francisco is hoping the momentum generated from the new guys brings a wave of improvement to everyone.
They can’t afford to repeat those numbers
If the offense does its part, San Francisco has the pitching to do theirs. The rotation still features Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija, and could also get a boost from guys like Chris Stratton and Tyler Beede. However, the top of the rotation combined for just 74 starts last year, comprising 466 innings and a forgettable 4.19 ERA last season. Compare that to the fact that in 2016, the same three guys had a 3.09 ERA in 98 starts comprising just under 650 innings. They can’t afford to repeat those numbers again this year.
Bruce Bochy is back
Things are different enough in the bay to where we should expect something different than another season with almost 100 losses. While manager Bruce Bochy is back, he shook up the group of lieutenants around him. There’s a new closer in Mark Melancon (even though he’s 35 years old). And then there’s the infusion of big names into the lineup.
They can be very dangerous
It’s realistic to think the Giants could be hanging around in late September, in the chase for one of the National League Wild Card spots. And as well have become well are: if you get the Giants into the postseason, history demonstrates they can be very dangerous.