Overview - The Giants streak ended. For the last three even numbered years they won the World Series. Not 2016. It was the Cubs destiny and they eliminated the Giants in the playoffs. A bullpen collapse was the Giants undoing, blowing 30 save opportunities, the most in the major leagues. They signed Mark Melancon to a free agent contract to address the bullpen needs. They also let go bullpen stalwarts Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.
Strengths - Their strongest position is having Buster Posey behind the plate. It was a down offensive year for Buster, but his defense behind the plate remains solid and his handling of the pitching staff always puts them in the top five in the major leagues. At 30 years of age he could be hitting the down side of his career. Brandon Crawford is about as solid a shortstop you can get. He was one of three Giants to win a Gold Glove. Second baseman Joe Panik was one and Buster Posey was the third. Crawford can also generate some offense with a .430 slugging percentage based on his 28 doubles, 11 Triples and 12 homeruns. The other Brandon, Belt did not win a gold glove but he has got the defensive tools to win one at first base. His bat lacks homerun power but he hit the gaps for 41 doubles and shows the patience to walk 104 times. The starting pitching has two aces at the top of the rotation in Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. After that it gets a little fuzzy. Mark Melancon has been one of the best closers in the game the last couple years. Last year he saved 47 games. It will be tough for the Giants to blow 30 leads with Melancon in the pen.
Weaknesses - The outfield lacks an impact player. Left field is a big hole. If Buster Posey plays first on the days the Giants want to rest him from his catching responsibilities Brandon Belt can always move to left field. Otherwise they will have to turn to unproven players in Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Kyle Blanks or Gorkys Hernandez. Denard Span had some issues defensively in centerfield and failed to have a good year offensively. He hit .266 but only .217 against lefthanders. Hunter Pence failed to stay healthy for a second year in a row, limited to just 106 games. At 34 he is on the sliding scale down in his career. They lack a lefthander in the bullpen to get the tough lefthanders out late in the game. Will Smith is the only true commodity. Eduardo Nunez does not provide a lot of power at third. He also only hit .174 versus lefthanders in his 50 game trial with the Giants. With the Twins he finished with a .764 OPS. The Giants would like to see him turn into that kind of player. He may turn into a utility player with the Giants signing of Jae-Gyun Hwang. Hwang put up good offensive numbers in Korea but there was not a lot of offensive success with the three Korean bats who signed major league contracts last year.
Non-Roster Invitees - Myworld has to wonder if Michael Morse or Jimmy Rollins has anything left. If they can show they do in spring training they can be players who come off the bench. Rollins may have to learn to play a utility role, moving to defensive positions he is not familiar with. David Hernandez has a good enough arm to slot into the bullpen. If Kyle Blanks can stay healthy his bat would be interesting to put out in left field. The 6′6″ power hitter has not been healthy in the last couple years, bothered by foot problems.
Breakout Prospects - The rotation is pretty solid but a lot of that depends on the health and effectiveness of Matt Cain. Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez and Ty Blach are all pitchers they can call on. Beede throws from the right side and Blach made his major league debut last year. None of the three has an overpowering fastball but rely more on command to get hitters out. Christian Arroyo, the teams 2013 first round pick should make his major league debut in 2017. He is more a utility player, with his power too light to play the hot corner and lacking sufficient range to play short on an extended basis.
Prospects to Watch - Chris Shaw has some power to play first. A major injury to Brandon Belt would need to happen for him to get any significant playing time in 2017. Last year he combined for 21 homeruns between High A and AA. The strikeouts are a bit frequent and his defense falls short of Belt. Reyes Moronta is a pitcher who can hit triple digits with his fastball. The Giants are grooming him to be a closer but he needs to keep his weight in check. Last year he saved 14 games and averaged 14.2 whiffs per nine innings. We can’t really get excited about anyone else down in their farm system.
Expected Finish - They will not catch the talented Dodgers roster but they should win enough games to slide into the wild card game.