NL Wild Card No. 2: San Francisco Giants (88-74)
2014 finish: 2nd in NL West (88-74), World Series champions.
The San Francisco Giants won their third world series in the last five years in 2014 by being an NL Wild Card after the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West. Same story this season, but different ending. The Giants were 12th in hitting and 10th in pitching last season. They were led by C Buster Posey on the bat with .311/.364/.490 averages adding 22 homers and 89 RBI’s. On the mound, it was all Madison Bumgarner who was 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 219 strikeouts.
This offseason, the Giants made some big re-signings by getting back starting pitchers Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and key reliever Sergio Romo. The Giants also lost one of their signature player in Pablo Sandoval who signed with Boston, and they didn’t fill the role very well.
Key additions: OF Nori Aoki, 3B Casey McGehee.
Key losses: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Tyler Colvin, LF Michael Morse.
The Giants signed Casey McGehee to take the place of Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval batted .279/.324/.415 last season with 16 homers and Casey McGehee is no true replacement after he batted .217/.284/.358 last season. Nori Aoki was a great addition for the San Francisco outfield after he batted .285/.349/.360 last season with the Kansas City Royals. He also stole 17 bases and had 140 hits in 132 games. Aoki had 171 hits in 155 games in 2013 with the Brewers. While Hunter Pence will be out 6-8 weeks with a broken arm, the outfield will be fine with Gregor Blanco stepping in at right field with Aoki in left and Angel Pagan in center.
The most important thing for San Francisco this offseason was that they didn’t lose pitching. Their rotation will consist of Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong which will prove all around solid for the Giants.
The key concern for this team is at third base with Casey McGehee. I think losing Pablo Sandoval is going to hurt San Francisco a lot more than many think. The Giants will rely on good performances from 1B Brandon Belt who has had a promising spring training. They’ll need good power from him in 2015. Also, Joe Panik at second base who came in sixth in rookie of the year voting will be a key piece for the Giants. He had 82 hits in 269 at bats and batted a .305 average.
2015 team batting MVP: C Buster Posey
2015 team pitching MVP: SP Madison Bumgarner
2015 key under the radar player: 2B Joe Panik
The Giants are going to head to the Wild Card slot once again as the Dodgers will prove to be too much for them, however, they won’t have the same destiny in the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Pirates will knock them out in a great Wild Card playoff.