Finishing up the NL West, the next team in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season is the San Francisco Giants, who finished in second place in the division last season
It’s an even-numbered year, which means the Giants are going to win the World Series, right? Nah, it’s not that easy. They have won titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but it’ll take more than a year ending in an even number for them to win the World Series again. Signing SPs Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija could help, though, as well as adding OF Denard Span to the offense. The pitchers slot in behind SP Madison Bumgarner in the rotation, with Span forming a veteran outfield with OFs Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. And, of course, the Giants still have C Buster Posey, one of the best in Major League Baseball behind the plate.
The Giants had the top average (.267) in the National League last season but had the fourth-fewest home runs, with 136. Posey led the team with a .318 average, to go along with 19 home runs and 95 RBI. The team’s home-run title went to SS Brandon Crawford, who hit 21 homers. The Giants got decent production out of a couple of young players, with 3B Matt Duffy hitting .295 with 12 home runs and 77 RBI and 2B Joe Panik posting a .312 average, with 8 home runs and 37 RBI IN 100 games. The team’s 3.72 ERA was in the top half of the NL. Bumgarner led the rotation with a 2.93 ERA and 234 strikeouts in 218.1 innings. With the Reds and Royals last season, Cueto posted a 3.44 ERA while striking out 176 batters in 212 innings. Samardzija had a disappointing year with the White Sox, with a 4.96 ERA — nearly 2 runs higher than in 2014 — and 163 strikeouts in 214 innings. Closer Santiago Casilla pitched well out of the bullpen, converting 38 saves in 44 opportunities, with a 2.79 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 58 innings.
The Giants had a good offense last season, and they should have another one this year since they didn’t lose any of their key hitters in the offseason. They may get a little help hitting home runs with Panik in the majors for a full season, which should get him in the 10-15 homer range, and Pence looking to bounce back from a down year last season when he played just 52 games. If he can get close to his career average of 25 home runs, that would be a major improvement from the 9 home runs that he hit last season. After 1B Brandon Belt showed some promising signs on offense last season, the team is hoping he can repeat that performance and get close to 20 home runs again in 2016.
The Giants are trying to improve upon their 84-win season from 2015 to try to catch the Dodgers and win the NL West. The Giants are definitely improved over last season, particularly in their starting rotation, but the Diamondbacks are also improved from 2015 and pose a threat to both the Giants and Dodgers. It should be a good race between those three teams to see who ends up as the division champion.