San Francisco Giants 2015 Preview

29
Mar

2014 Record – 88-74, 2nd in NL West

  • World Series Champions

Key Additions

3B Casey McGehee, OF Nori Aoki

Key Departures

3B Pablo Sandoval, 1B/OF Michael Morse,

Projected 2015 Lineup

  1. CF Angel Pagan
  2. 2B Joe Panik
  3. C Buster Posey
  4. 1B Brandon Belt
  5. 3B Casey McGehee
  6. LF Gregor Blanco
  7. RF Nori Aoki
  8. SS Brandon Crawford
  9. Pitcher

Projected 2015 Starters

  1. LHP Madison Bumgarner
  2. RHP Tim Hudson
  3. RHP Matt Cain
  4. RHP Jake Peavy
  5. RHP Tim Lincecum/RHP Ryan Vogelsong

Breakdown

As a Giants fan, you couldn’t ask for much more in 2014. They won their 3rd World Series in the past five seasons and are in the “dynasty” conversation. We haven’t seen many teams do what they have done year-in and year-out consistently; probably since the late 90’s New York Yankees. While their regular season numbers haven’t been anything spectacular, they absolutely dominate in the postseason.

They enter 2015 with basically the same core players minus the Kung-Fu Panda. Buster Posey still anchors the lineup while Madison Bumgarner will dominate atop the Giants’ rotation. After that, just like every season, they don’t have any “wow” players. They just play baseball. There isn’t anything sexy about Joe Panik. Or Angel Pagan. Or Jake Peavy. They just win baseball games and show up when they need to. Can’t complain, right?

X-Factor – The Pitching Staff (Minus MadBum)

Honestly, I still find it hard to believe the Giants won the World Series with their pitching staff. Nothing against them or anything like that, but I just find it strange. Madison Bumgarner has been under the radar for years now; he is a stud. Outside of that, you have Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy, who were some of the best pitchers in baseball…like 20 years ago. And then there is Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, and no one has any clue what happened to them.

I will say, Hudson and Peavy came up big for the Giants last season. They definitely helped this team make the postseason. But Hudson is now 39 and Peavy is 33 going on 60 and who knows how much longer these two can go. As for Cain and Lincecum, I don’t even know what to say. These two use to be aces and now they struggle to keep their ERA sub-5. It’s just crazy what has happened to them in recent years.

I think it will be very interesting to see how Hudson, Peavy, Cain, and Lincecum produce this season. They have all had Cy-Young type seasons before. But they are all well past their prime and aren’t getting any younger. A lot the Giants’ success will rely on these four.

Most To Prove – Brandon Belt

Brandon Belt’s first two full seasons in the Majors were pretty successful. From 2012 to 2013, Belt hit .283 with 24 HR, 123 RBI, 66 doubles, 17 stolen bases, and had a .360 OBP. Those numbers aren’t off the charts, but are very strong for a 1st baseman who at the time was only 24-25 years old.

Last season though, Belt dealt with a broken finger and a concussion that certainly hampered his numbers. He only played in 61 regular season games, where he hit .243 with 12 HR, 27 RBI. Those numbers aren’t too pretty at all and the injuries certainly didn’t help his cause.

Yes, Belt did have a key role in the Giants’ World Series. I totally realize that. He meant a lot to the team down the stretch. But many had Belt as a possible breakout star going into 2014. That didn’t happen. And now this season, Belt is pegged as a rebound or breakout candidate once again. There will be a lot of pressure for him to produce in a relatively quiet lineup, especially without Pablo Sandoval.

2015 Impact Prospect – Kyle Crick

Kyle Crick was drafted by the Giants in the 1st round (49th overall) back in 2011 out of high school. Just like prospect Archie Bradley from Arizona, Crick is a big boy with a heavy fastball. He stands at 6’3″, 220 pounds and his heater is in the upper 90’s.

Crick has been a strikeout machine in the minors, K’ing up 342 batters in 277 IP. That’s pretty incredible. He also enters this season as one of the Top 90 prospects in baseball according to MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. All very encouraging signs. The downside on this guy is his command (175 walks in 277 IP) and consistency, as he has a hard time finding the strike zone with his secondary pitches.

Some scouts say this guy could be a future ace. Others say he could be a star closer. Another group will say he is a glorified setup man. No one really knows how to project Crick. The only thing people know is his fastball could get him somewhere and if he commands his other pitches, he could see the Majors sooner rather than later. I think he could crack the bullpen sometime this season, but that is to be determined.

Why They’re Worth Watching

The Giants won the World Series last season. They have won three of the last five World Series. I’m really not sure I can sell you more than that. They are a perennial World Series threat and seem to put it together at the right time during the season. They also play at the beautiful AT&T Park (where I hope to travel to one day). I wish I lived in San Francisco where I could watch a team like the Giants everyday and occasionally show up to the ballpark, either on my feet or in a kayak. Can’t beat it.

Best Case

There are quite a few question marks with this team, especially in their pitching staff. Actually, they have quite a few question marks in their lineup as well. But Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner might be the most undervalued players in the game today. They always bring their A-game and are capable of leading a team deep into the postseason. If the pitching staff and other role players in the lineup produce, this team could certainly make another run for a World Series ring. The postseason is definitely in reach for this team, as it is every year. 92-70

Worst Case

The Giants’ pitching staff does worry me and I think the loss of Pablo Sandoval could have a serious impact on their lineup. Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy are real wild cards in the rotation and Cain and Lincecum are total question marks. As for the lineup, will Casey McGehee be able to fill Sandoval’s void? Will Joe Panik become a true, everyday second baseman? Will Angel Pagan finally have a healthy season? A lot of things could go right, but a lot of things could go wrong. 82-80

Projected Record – 84-78

About the author: Jack Conness

Graduate of UW-Milwaukee. Baseball nerd. Follow him on Twitter! @JackConness