Who saw the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series last season?
Not even Giants fans saw that kind of run.
They suspended Melky Cabrera indefinitely for violating the league drug policy, which was a bold move for the club. They could’ve had him back for the playoffs, but chose to keep him out. Now why can’t more clubs be like that?
Buster Posey was coming off a forgettable 2011 season, where he suffered the infamous and horrific ankle injury against the Marlins. He would go on to win the NL MVP, Hank Aaron Award, Silver Slugger, Comeback Player of the Year, and the NL Batting Title. Not a bad bounce-back season.
The one player that needs to bounce back this year is former ace Tim Lincecum.
He has a new haircut this offseason, to try to rekindle some of the magic that made him a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
Lincecum still has a ton of ability, but has dropped to third in the rotation.
It might not be the worst thing in the world, to help him bounce back to form.
The Giants let a couple of expendable players walk this offseason, in Melky Cabrera and Brian Wilson.
Wilson was a key asset during their 2010 title run, but had his 2012 ruined by having to recover from Tommy John Surgery.
He’s not cutting his beard, but he is looking for a new home.
While Cabrera landed in Toronto, Wilson is reportedly being looked at by the Mets.
The Giants used a closer-by-committee mindset last season, with Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla carrying the bulk of the duties.
Romo is the favorite to close in 2013, after converting 14 of 15 opportunities towards the end of last season.
He’s not the solidified starter, but manager Bruce Bochy says that Romo will get the bulk of the action as the team’s closer.
Even though the Giants are the defending World Champions, they are not getting enough credit as a favorite to repeat.
They have strong continuity, they have an elite pitching staff, and they have a great leader in the defending NL MVP Buster Posey.
Let’s take a look at the defending champs and their chances of repeating in 2013…
GIANTS PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Angel Pagan CF Solid contributor for owners in their fantasy playoffs, but got overpaid this offseason and isn’t getting any younger. Other than lacking HR ability, he’s a great asset for runs and stolen bases. 4th OF option on draft day.
2. Marco Scutaro 2B Was a spark for SF after coming over from COL, hitting .362 i n his final 61 games. He too got paid this offseason, but worth a look late in drafts after the typical elite 2B options are off the board.
3. Pablo Sandoval 3B This might be his best season yet. He’s a .300 hitter, with the ability to hit 25 home runs. He’s a buy low option among the typical star third basemen.
4. Buster Posey C He’s coming off his best season. Not only should he be the first catcher drafted, he should be one of the top 10 players drafted. The catcher draft pool has expanded, but he’s the only elite option that you’d want to reach for.
5. Hunter Pence RF If you look at his 2012 stats, you’d say he had a pretty good season, but he had a career-low .253 batting average. Don’t read too much into that stat, he’s still an elite option, worthy of being a no.2 OF on draft day.
6. Brandon Belt 1B He hit .310 in the final two months of the season, .275 on the year, but was a .320 hitter in the minors, will be have OF eligibility this year, post-draft watchlist candidate
7. Brandon Crawford SS He’s the red-headed step child of the lineup, .245 hitter, not someone you want to invest in
8. Gregor Blanco LF He’s a .245 hitter, did steal 26 bases, but won’t be a solidified starter with Belt and Andres Torres sharing time there when Buster Posey plays 1B.
1. Matt Cain He’s coming off the best season of his career, you know what you’re getting in him: double digit wins, an ERA of around 3.15 or less, and can pitch deep into games. Should be respected as a top 10 pitcher on draft day.
2. Madison Bumgarner High strikeouts, durability, can pitch long into games, does sports at least a 3 ERA, moves up the pitching rotation with Lincecum’s decline, but should be drafted in the first 5 rounds.
3. Tim Lincecum Don’t forget that this guy won 2 CY Youngs in his career, high strikeout pitcher, can average an ERA of around 3 or below, working to return to elite form
4. Ryan Vogelsong Always seems to be one of the best second half pitchers in the league, just starts off rocky. He’s had a great ERA of 3.37 or below, since joining SF, so target him late in drafts.
5. Barry Zito The guy did go 15-8, but he came with a 4.15 ERA. Zito is not someone you want to draft, but rather keep an eye on. Don’t forget, he was one of the hottest pitchers out of the gate in 2012, then hit a hard decline.
RP-Sergio Romo Anytime a player coverts 93% of his opportunities, while sporting a 1.79 ERA, you have to be impressed…until you realize it was only in 15 outings. He’s the starting closer so far, but he’s going to have a cast of subs early on, until he builds up his durability. Keep in mind that any SF closer is a solid option to own, no matter what their name is.
Tim Linecum was once a top 20 fantasy draft choice, but not anymore. The past two seasons, he’s been on a harsh decline. Lincecum openly admitted to slacking off in his preparation for the 2012 season, but still was able to contribute to San Fran’s World Series run. He worked out of the bullpen late into the season, but will just move down the starting rotation in 2013. In 2011, he finished with a record under .500, despite posting a 2.74 ERA. It got worse in 2012, by sporting a dismal 10-15 record and a 5.18 ERA. Lincecum has put on some weight, revamped his workout routine, AND did the ultimate thing that will turn his career around…he cut his hair. Hear me out. In various cultures, cutting one’s hair is a form of rebirth or restart with new zen. It sounds crazy, but as they say in the commercials “it’s only weird, if it doesn’t work”. Trust me people, it will work. As the no.3 pitcher, you’re looking at an ace against opponents that should be their team’s third option. You can get Lincecum at a huge discount, so take advantage of it.
Brandon Belt might be one of the biggest sleepers going into this season. He’s entering his second full season of major league action, but showcased a lot of ability towards the end of the 2012 regular season. He hit .310 in the September and October, with a .275 AVG throughout the season, and was a .320 hitter in the minors. We saw how today’s Giants stars, like Madison Bumgarner, prospered during their first playoff run and how they transitioned. Like Bumgarner, Belt is looking like that next player to step up for San Fran and make a major impact. He won’t even be drafted in your league, but he’s worth a look in the later rounds and in the post-draft watchlist.