Because of a quiet offseason, many critics and fans alike have written the San Francisco Giants out of contention for a playoff run. What people seem to forget however is that much of the current team was a core part of the Giants’ 2014 World Series run. Obviously they’ve been a subpar team in very recent years, but there always seems to be a surprise team who at least competes for a playoff spot. And this year, in the National League, my money is on the Giants being that one team that surprises people with a deep run in the season.
The first and foremost reason this team can be a surprise is their under-the-radar bullpen depth. The acquisitions the Giants did make this offseason prove that they understand the volatility of bullpen performances. They went out and acquired both veteran, established bullpen arms like Nick Vincent and Tony Watson along with young bullpen arms who have had their fair share of great pitching runs and poor ones, like Trevor Gott and Travis Bergen. Between these four, they have pitched a combined 32.1 innings and allowed only three runs, striking out 31 and allowing only eight base on balls.
By signing Vincent, Watson, and Gott, the Giants weren’t exactly positive the turnout they would get, but they have proved to be very effective to this point. In Bergen, the Giants knew they were signing a potential top-tier reliever who, in three seasons in the Minors, has a career 1.27 ERA in 85.1 innings of work with a whopping 114 strikeouts and only 26 walks. Although it’s just spring training, bullpen performances tend to correlate the best going into the regular season, and there’s no reason to believe this Giants bullpen can get it done.
Let’s not forget that it was the core infield of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, and Brandon Crawford that helped carry this team to World Series trophy. Although they had a merely average season that year, that doesn’t mean they are not capable of producing at the all-star level. Belt leads the team in OPS with 1.339 this spring and is second, behind only Panik, with 17 hits in only 37 at bats. Likewise, Panik’s slash of .463/.488/.561 shows he has it in him to produce at the big league level. Despite Posey’s struggles at the plate this spring, he’s proven time in and time out that he is arguably the best catcher of this decade. As for Crawford, it shouldn’t be expected that he produce runs at the all-star level but that his value comes from the defensive side.
Although they had their fair share of continuous struggles last year, the Giants’ outfield this year is significantly younger and has potential for upside. Although they have given much of the outfield job this spring to newly-acquired Cameron Maybin and the inconsistent Mac Williamson, the Giants have to be proud of what they have seen from veteran Gerardo Parra and the youngsters Steven Duggar and Chris Shaw who are bound to start at the Major League level this year and have a breakthrough season.