The San Francisco Giants are hoping to continue their World Series trend after winning in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and a former Cincinnati Reds ace could help them do it in 2016.
San Francisco (84-78, 2nd in NL West, 8 GB)
Key Additions: Denard Span, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Kyle Blanks
Key Departures: Mike Leake, Ryan Vogelsong, Hector Sanchez, Yusemeiro Petit, Joaquin Arias, Nori Aoki, Justin Maxwell, Marlon Byrd, Tim Lincecum, Everth Cabrera, Tim Hudson, Jeremy Affeldt
Reds Dates May 2-4 @SF July 25-27
The Giants may have lost a lot of veterans this off-season, but they easily replaced the likes of Tim Lincecum, Mike Leake, and Tim Hudson with pitchers who would be aces elsewhere in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Cueto comes over to San Francisco after helping the Royals to their first World Series title since 1985. Samardzija had a down year with the White Sox after a strong campaign in 2014 with the Cubs and A’s.
Denard Span is the lone addition to the starting lineup as Bruce Bochy returns the majority of his roster in his tenth season as the Giants skipper. Bochy has surprisingly won just one Manager of the Year award and that came in 1996 when he was just two seasons in with the Padres. Two years later he ended up leading San Diego to just its second and last World Series appearance before guiding the Giants to three titles while amassing a 1,702-1682 record during his 21-year managerial career.
Of course it helps to have one of the best pitchers in baseball who adds great value with his bat. Madison Bumgarner not only won 18 games for the Giants last season, but was also 2-of-3 in pinch hit appearances and wreaked havoc against the Phillies and Rockies collecting eight hits in 14 at bats with a homer and three RBI in those contests. He has nine homers and 24 RBI in the last two seasons.
Bumgarner isn’t the only threat on the days he pitches as his battery mate, Buster Posey, led the team in hits (177), average (.318), RBI (95) and OBP (.379), while only Brandon Crawford’s 21 homers were enough to beat Posey’s 19. Factor them in with the breakout seasons of second baseman Joe Panik and third baseman Matt Duffy and the Giants are poised for yet another World Series run.
Even the bullpen is strong for the Giants as Santiago Casilla returns as the Giants closer, a role in which he finished out 38 games. Sergio Romo sets him up unless a slew of lefties come to the plate, and then it’s time for Javier Lopez to take over. Lopez last season appeared in 77 games and allowed just 19 hits and posted a 1.60 ERA.
The Reds will get an early look at the potential front runner for the World Series, although the Dodgers and even the Diamondbacks might make it difficult for the Giants to waltz right in to the playoffs. Here’s a look at what San Francisco might look like when they head to Great American Ballpark in early May (as of 3/25).
Starting rotation (2015 stats):
1. Madison Bumgarner (18-9, 2.93 ERA, All-Star, Silver Slugger)
2. Johnny Cueto (11-13, 3.44 ERA w/Reds & Royals)
3. Jeff Samardzija (11-13, 4.96 ERA w/White Sox)
4. Jake Peavy (8-6, 3.58 ERA)
5. Matt Cain (2-4, 5.79 ERA)
6. Chris Heston (12-11, 3.95 ERA)
Closer: Santiago Casilla (4-2, 2.79 ERA, 38 saves)
C. Buster Posey (150 Games played, .318 avg, 19 HR, 95 RBI, All-Star, Silver Slugger)
1B. Brandon Belt (137 GP, .280 avg, 18 HR, 68 RBI)
2B. Joe Panik (100 GP, .312 avg, 8 HR, 37 RBI, All-Star)
3B. Matt Duffy (149 GP, .295 avg, 12 HR, 77 RBI)
SS. Brandon Crawford (143 GP, .256 avg, 21 HR, 84 RBI, Silver Slugger, All-Star, Gold Glove)
LF. Angel Pagan (133 GP, .262 avg, 3 HR, 37 RBI)
CF. Denard Span (61 GP, .301 avg, 5 HR, 22 RBI w/Nationals)
RF. Hunter Pence (52 GP, .275 avg, 9 HR, 40 RBI)
C. Andrew Susac
IF. Ehire Adrianza, Kelby Tomlinson
OF. Gregor Blanco