Having completed one of the more unlikely World Series runs in 2012 powered by even more unlikely names, the world champs are largely sitting out this off-season and staying pat with the team that got them there. The only moves they’ve made have been re-signings and the only rumors they’ve been involved in is the occasional whispers about moving Brian Wilson (who was non-tendered and now a free agent). That having been said, let’s take a look at what the 2012 champs are bringing to the table in 2013.
2012 Team Rankings:
Wins – 94
Runs – 12th Overall
Batting Average – 5th Overall
ERA – 7th Overall
WHIP – 13th Overall
No problems here, Posey did just win an MVP in his first full season in the bigs. He’ll be playing more first base this season to keep his bat in the lineup, but Hector Sanchez has proven to be a reliable backup batting .280 with 34 RBI in 74 games last season.
The Giants are very high on Belt and he has shown signs of serious potential, but he certainly isn’t there yet. He will split time between first and outfield to make room for the ocassional Posey start. To stay in the daily lineup, though, he’ll have to improve on his 2012 stats—.275, 7 HR, 56 RBI, 12 SB. Brett Pill might find it difficult to find much playing time despite being another guy the Giants like.
Marco Scutaro turned it up in a huge way last season hitting .306 with 7 homers, 74 RBI, 87 runs, and less than 50 strikeouts. He turned it up even more in the post-season winning the NLCS MVP. The Giants rewarded him with a big three-year, $20 million deal and it’s hard to argue against the new and improved Scutaro.
Shortstop – Brandon Crawford, Joaquin Arias: Grade – B
Crawford won’t blow you away with his hitting numbers save for some clutch situations, but he has proven to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. His post-season was one long highlight reel and he has definitely cemented his spot in the middle infield.
Third Base – Pablo Sandoval, Joaquin Arias: Grade – B-
Sandoval looked great in the playoffs, winning the World Series MVP, but his regular season play could have definitely been better. He also missed 50 games due to injury. He is an elite third baseman with the ability to bat .320+ and drive in 90 but he will have to do better than the .283, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 59 R he put up in 2012.
It was a great move re-signing Pagan, he’s very serviceable with the bat and the glove and definitely earned his four-year, $40 million deal batting .288 with 95 runs, 29 SB, 38 2B, and 15 3B.
Pence is a very reliable and gutsy outfielder with a solid glove who is coming off a career high 104 RBI in 2012 despite a severely decreased batting average.
Blanco is a very good defensive outfielder with good speed but not much of a hitter, his 26 SB are the only thing in his stat sheet to write home about. Look for him to split time with Brandon Belt.
As far as rotations go, it’s hard to do better than this. Cain is coming off a Cy Young-caliber season with his 16 W, 2.79 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and is as good an Ace as you can have.
Bumgarner has solidified himself as an elite pitcher with a 3.20 ERA in 534 MLB innings so far. He had a 1.11 WHIP and 16 W in 2012 and is only 23-years-old.
Vogelsong continued to build on his 2011 success with a 14 win season in which he posted a 3.37 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and pitched 190 innings. Not too shabby for a guy with a 5.86 ERA coming into 2011.
Lincecum completely fell apart in 2012 and is suddenly the weak spot of the rotation. Whether it was too many bong hits or not enough, his 15 losses, 5.18 ERA, and 1.47 WHIP were just miserable. The Giants definitely need the two-time Cy Young back to his 2.70 ERA self.
The value of his contract aside, Zito continues to be reliable and was huge for the Giants in the post-season. An ERA in the low-4s and a 1.40 WHIP is about what we have come to expect and is certainly not bad for a fifth starter.
In terms of bullpens, this is easily the best collection of relievers in the league and the Giants’ biggest strength. For one, Santiago Casilla had the highest ERA of the bunch with a 2.84.
Sergio Romo is going to be a very good closer and looked monstrous with his 1.79 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. Affeldt, Casilla, and Javier Lopez bring a ton of experience and all had great seasons in 2012 while the young Jose Mijares and the younger George Kontos are definitely here to stay.
Team Grade: B
Fearless Prediction: 91 wins, 2nd place in the NL West