MADISON, February 25, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 21, the San Francisco Giants.
2013 Record: 76-86 with a -62 run differential.
Key Additions: RHP Tim Hudson and OF Michael Morse
Key Losses: LHP Barry Zito, OF Andres Torres and 1B Brett Pill
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Angel Pagan
2B Marco Scutaro
1B Brandon Belt
C Buster Posey
OF Hunter Pence
3B Pablo Sandoval
OF Michael Morse
SS Brandon Crawford
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Ryan Vogelsong/Yusmeiro Petit
Best Case: Both Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain return to 2011 form and join Madison Bumgarner to form one of the top rotations in baseball. Buster Posey continues to be one of the top hitting catchers in all of baseball. With the new home plate collision rules in place, Posey has an easier time staying healthy. Brandon Belt, with continued steady playing time, builds on his .289/.360/.481 break out season in 2013. Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval produce the types of good seasons that they are capable of producing and the Giants have a great middle of the lineup.
The Giants bullpen continues to be excellent with Sergio Romo getting all the credit as the closer, but Santiago Cassila, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt all turn in excellent seasons as well allowing Bruce Bochy to shorten games with his bullpen. The Giants finish second in the NL West, but manage to get one of the NL Wild Card spots.
Worst Case: The Giants realize that Tim Lincecum’s days as a top of the rotation starter are over, but they do so after committing $35 million over two years this past offseason. Bochy reverts to his old treatment of Brandon Belt and gives him sporadic playing time while using Buster Posey at 1B a bunch. Michael Morse struggles as much as he did last year with both health and making contact. Marco Scutaro shows his age, as he is entering his age 39 season, and leaves the Giants with little production in the middle of the infield. The Giants are unable to right the ship and the struggle to finish fourth in the NL West.
Prospect Watch: After winning two of the last four World Series, largely due to home grown talent, the Giants have been picking near the end of the first round of the MLB draft. Without picks in the top 10 the team has not been able to add and quickly promote the likes of Buster Posey or Tim Lincecum to help the big club. That does not mean that the cupboard is entirely bare, however.
Kyle Crick is regarded as the top prospect in the system. Crick is still a ways off though. He spent all of last year in high A where he logged 68.2 innings with a 1.57 ERA and 95 K’s. The team has a host of other arms that they are hoping will progress and allow the Giants to eventually utilize them at the big league level, including the likes of Clayton Blackburn, Edwin Escobar, Ty Blach and Chris Stratton.