2014 Final Record — 88-74 (2nd Place, World Series Champs)
2015 Projected Record — 84-78 (3rd Place)
The 2014 San Francisco Giants rode the arm of Madison Bumgarner and some clutch hitting to an unlikely run through the playoffs and yet another World Series Championship. This has not been a stellar off-season for the Giants and I can’t see a way they repeat or even reach the playoffs for that matter. There are question marks with their pitching staff and they just don’t have enough bats in the lineup to keep up with the suddenly potent NL West lineups. A 3rd Place finish could be a generous prediction. Let’s break down the roster and see who to target in your fantasy leagues.
Projected Starting Lineup
|1||Angel Pagan – CF||Serviceable depth player but the 33-year-old OF doesn’t have the legs he used to that made him a valuable commodity|
|2||Joe Panik – 2B||Much more valuable actual baseball player than fantasy player. Could hit for decent average but nothing else to get excited about for your fantasy team|
|3||Brandon Belt – 1B||My breakout candidate on this roster if he can develop a little plate discipline. In the 3 hole, he will be counted on for a major portion of the offense. If fully healthy, he should have his first 20 HR season and get his average up near .290.|
|4||Buster Posey – C||Hands down best overall catcher in the league. With roughly 20-25 starts at 1B to give his body a break, expect 25 HRs, 95 RBI with a minimum slash line of .310/.360/.485.|
|5||Hunter Pence – RF (Inj)||Despite starting the season on the DL, Pence may still finish 2nd in most offensive categories on the team. Should reach roughly 500 ABs and could still reach 20 HRs, 70 RBIs and .275 Avg. Gregor Blanco fills in at the beginning of the season and not worth a roster spot in most leagues.|
|6||Casey McGehee – 3B||Projects to slash around .265/.325/.350 with less than 10 HRs and 65 RBIs. Sorry, this doesn’t cut it as a replacement for Sandoval.|
|7||Nori Aoki – LF||Aoki has good plate discipline and can still steal some bases at 33 years old. .275 average and 20+ steals will give him so decent value especially in deeper leagues.|
|8||Brandon Crawford – SS||May be one of the few in this lineup with double digit HRs. He doesn’t steal many bases but he’s a smart aggressive base-runner and could hit 10+ triples. This is the extent of his value. Don’t expect a high average or run production.|
Outside of the “heart of the order,” there is not much to get excited about. Posey is the top fantasy catcher but you will have to overpay to get him. Pence is a nice buy-low candidate since he’s hurt. If you can get him at a bargain, he will pay off nicely once he gets back in the lineup sometime this Spring. Belt is the wild card. He could be a breakout player that could really give your lineup a boost, especially if you are not counting on him as your starting 1B. He makes a worthwhile risk as a Corner Infielder or Flex/Utility play. Pagan and Aoki could be used as depth to cover injuries during the season. They shouldn’t be starting for you unless you are in a deep league.
Impact Hitting Prospects for 2015
- Andrew Susac – C — After his late season call up in 2014, Susac should break camp on the 25-man roster. He would be the starting catcher for many major league clubs, but is relegated to backup duty due to the presence of Posey. He should see one or two starts a week to give Posey a rest or when he plays 1B. Susac is a worthy deep-league stash as the handcuff to Posey if he got hurt this year. He’s arguably the top prospect in the organization and definitely the top position player prospect. He doesn’t possess any plus raw tools, but has a controlled swing that should allow him to hit for a decent average and decent power. I could see 10 HRs if he gets near 200 ABs this year.
- Matt Duffy – 2B/SS — Duffy is another prospect that finished up 2014 in San Francisco. Like Susac, he doesn’t have any perceived “tools” that put him on any prospect watch list. What he does offer is the ability to play any infield position, get on base and create havoc. His career slash line in the minors is .304/.387/.413. Duffy stole over 20 bases in both of his first two full seasons of pro ball and he draws a walk nearly as often as he strikes out. He skipped AAA last year and went straight from AA to San Francisco, ending up on the World Series roster and getting himself a ring. He probably starts out at AAA for regular ABs, but when the first infielder goes down to injury, expect Duffy to be up to stay. Quite frankly, I don’t think he will perform any worse than ¾ of the projected starting infield. Deep leagues should monitor him as he could be a nice depth player.
|1||Madison Bumgarner||World Series MVP is unquestioned Ace of the staff and legit Cy Young candidate. That is as long as his arm doesn’t fall off. Bumgarner has pitched over 200 innings and struck out at least 190 batters in each of the last four seasons. If he holds up, 2.50 ERA, 18-20 Wins, less than 2.0 BB/9 and more than 9.0 K/9 are realistic numbers.|
|2||Matt Cain||Projection: 13 Wins, 3.75 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, 7.5 K/9|
|3||Tim Hudson||Projection: 10 Wins, 3.85 ERA, 1.7 BB/9, 7 K/9|
|4||Jake Peavy||Projection: 12 Wins, 3.65 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, 7 K/9|
|5||Tim Lincecum||Projection: 8 Wins, 4.35 ERA, 3.5 BB/9, 8 K/9|
If this was 2010, this would be one of the most dominate rotations in the league and favorite World Series favorite. Of course, they did win the World Series that year even without Hudson and Peavy. Point is that Bumgarner is the only pitcher in the rotation under 30 years old AND the only lefty. Hell, he is the only projected pitcher on the 25-man roster out of Spring Training under 30. Including the postseason, he pitched 170 innings last year. Manager, Bruce Bochy has a track record of pushing his starters in the playoffs, and they are never the same as a result (Lincecum/Cain). I just can’t see how this aged pitching staff can hold up and support this offense.
Impact Pitching Prospects for 2015
- NONE — Top organizational pitching prospects are Kyle Crick and Tyler Beede and both are at least a year or two away. Crick could be closer if San Francisco gives up on him as a starter and moves him to the pen. He could be a nasty closer in the future if they went this route. On the other hand, if he can gain command of his plus fastball and borderline plus slider, he could still develop into an outstanding starter with #2 rotation slot ceiling. For 2015, he is not likely to make an impact, but worth monitoring if they shift him to the pen. He might be considered for a late season promotion.
- Santiago Casilla (Closer) –– He took over as closer last season as Romo kept having breakdowns in the 9th. He is more than capable of finishing games and should get around 35 saves, but his peripheral numbers are not that of a dominant reliever. He gets the nod because he protects the lead. He should support a decent ERA (project around 2.50) and control (2.5 BB/9), but will likely only strikeout about 6.5 per 9. He is worth owning since he is the closer but he would rank in the bottom third in the league.
- Sergio Romo (Setup) — Romo was the closer for over a year before he lost the gig to Casilla. He lost the job because he was so susceptible to the long ball. He gave up 9 last year which lead his ERA rising to 3.74 despite a career average at 2.51. He has terrific control and strikes out around a batter an inning. I could see him getting 20+ holds and that holds a lot of value in leagues that are not just save heavy. With the better peripherals, Romo could be worth more in holds leagues then Casilla.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 22nd from 7pm-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. This week we will be discussing Starting Pitchers.
Bryan Luhrs the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Kyle Amore, and Lou Landers will be joining us this week whom are all writers with MLFS. Be sure to check out Bryan’s N.L. West articles every Saturday, Kyle’s N.L. Central articles every Tuesday, and Lou’s A.L. Central articles every Wednesday.