I decided to take a short offseason of my own this week and took Tuesday off. I’m fully rested and back to recap each team’s season and break down needs during the winter months.
The path we’ll take through these season recaps will include two teams each week, and if my math is correct (it’s probably not), we should wrap things up the week pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.
Let’s climb the standings from worst to first, so today we start with the 64-98 San Francisco Giants. Yes, the Detroit Tigers finished with the same record, but the Tigers went 2-1 against the Giants this season, so they’ll be next by virtue of head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Giants played to their worst full-season record since 1985 when they won just 62 games. (San Francisco won 55 of 115 games in the 1994 strike-shortened season.)
The Giants struggled on both sides of the ball throughout 2017. Pitching was horrendous as the Giants’ staff was overworked and threw more innings than any group in the big leagues. As a result, Giants pitchers tossed a team 4.50 ERA for eighth in the National League. The bullpen wasn’t great in save opportunities, either, with an NL-low 32 saves.
In general, the pitching staff struggled to throw strikes for swings and misses. Giants pitching allowed the second most hits, and struck out the second fewest batters in the NL. The silver lining here–the Giants allowed the second least homers in the NL, behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lefty pitcher Madison Bumgarner missed all of May with a shoulder injury, but led the team with a 3.32 ERA despite a 4-9 record over 17 starts.
The San Francisco offense was anemic, to put it simply. The Giants couldn’t hit their way out of a wet paper bag with a team batting average of .249 and the worst slugging percentage in the NL at .380. Catcher Buster Posey was the lone bright spot as he led the Giants with a .320 average and tied for a team-high 34 doubles.
It won’t take much for San Francisco to improve in 2018. However, pitching is an obvious area that needs bolstering. Jeff Samardzija appears to be well past his prime, and finding a way to move his contract with a modified no-trade clause could be huge by opening a solid chunk of change and a spot in the starting rotation. Pitching to an All-Star catcher like Posey could attract the attention of free agents like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta to fill the void.
As for offensive improvement, a package deal to clear a spot in the outfield with Jarrett Parker could clear the way for outfielder Lorenzo Cain to find himself in the Bay Area. Cain hit .300 with 27 doubles and slugged .440 in 2017. AT&T Park is deep in the alleys, so Cain could find himself with even more extra-base hits in San Francisco than in Kansas City.
Normally, I’m not one for making the sexy offseason deal, but the Giants are a destination team with a recent winning tradition. It could work.
Photo by Brigham Berthold