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Friday, October 04, 2013

SF Giants 2013 Review: What Went Right

Any time a reigning World Champion fails to make the playoffs the following season, it has to be considered a large disappointment. However, there were some silver linings to be taken from the 2013 campaign for the Giants.

Although there weren't a whole lot of things that went the Giants way in 2013, the biggest positive that can be taken out of this year was the play of team MVP Hunter Pence, and the reason why it's so big is because
he'll actually be sticking around for a while Pence hit a career high 27 home runs, drove in 99, hit .283 and stole 22 bases, also a career high. He displayed a combo of power and speed the Giants haven't seen in their outfield since #25 left. Outside of Hunter Pence, I don't think there was a more steady, consistent Giant in that lineup than Belt throughout, especially over the 2nd half (after adjusting his mechanics a bit at the plate). Over the last two months of the season, Belt hit 7 home runs, drove in 27 and matched a .347 batting average with a .997 OPS. The HR and RBI total still aren't quite where they could be, but it appears they're indeed getting there. Belt finished 2nd on the team with 17 long balls, 39 doubles and 67 RBI to go with a .289 average and .841 OPS. I think he really has the potential to breakout in 2014.

As for the rest of the everyday lineup, not much really jumps out at you. Buster Posey was adequate as he battled minor injuries throughout much of the second half and the Giants decided to take it easy on him as they were out of the race. Other than that, Marco Scutaro, while not quite the hit machine he was down the stretch a year ago, still was solid when he was out there, leading the team in hitting (.297) despite missing time and playing 2/3 of the year with a crushed finger and some back issues.

Onto the pitching staff, where the area that's been a strength for this team for the last 5 years surprisingly became its weakness. Again, this is a post looking back at some of the positives, so we'll save the criticism for next time, but it was a largely disappointing year for the Giants starting rotation. Madison Bumgarner was the only Giants starter to go more than 200 innings this year (201), and the only Giants starter that finished with a +.500 record (13-8) and a solid 2.77 ERA. Matt Cain did come on strong in the second half to alleviate some of the concern that he may be running out of gas, and Yusmiero Petit and Chad Gaudin each had admirable roles in the rotation at various points in the season, filling in nicely, but other than that, most of the pitching talk has to be saved for the "What Went Wrong" post.

The bullpen was an area that was in shambles a bit early on in the year, but there were some young players that emerged late in the season that helped right the ship a bit. Sergio Romo was pretty solid throughout in his first full season in the closers role, though I still think his best spot is that 8th inning if the Giants could manage to find a more traditional shut-down closer. He was solid in the role though, converting 38 of 43 save opps. and sporting a 2.53 ERA. One of the young bullpen arms that arrived in September, and a name Giants fans have been hearing for a few years now, may be in line to eventually wrestle that job away from Romo. Heath Hembree has had a roller coaster couple of seasons in Fresno the last two summers, but once he arrived with the Giants, we saw exactly why this guy is the system's top-rated reliever. Granted, it was only a brief 9-game showing, he was dominant, allowing just 4 hits and fanning 12 batters over 7 2/3 innings. Between Romo, Hembree, Santiago Casilla and Jean Machi, who quietly put together a strong rookie year (3-1, 2.38 ERA, 51 K's, 1.09 WHIP in 53 innings), the Giants look relatively set in the right-handed reliever department. Pending free agent Javier Lopez had a stellar season as the team's main lefty out of the pen (69 games, 1.83 ERA, .203 BAA).

There were other positive moments or stretches for various players in 2013 though as well. Of course, Tim Lincecum had a memorable moment in what may end up being his final year in San Francisco when he threw his first career no-no in July. Tony Abreu emerged as a legit utility option, perhaps even surpassing Joaquin Arias. It was also good to see Angel Pagan come back strongly in September after missing 3 months, and Pablo Sandoval sort of salvage what would have been a terrible year for him with a strong September (though his season was again a "large" underachievement). However, as far as individual seasons from April through September, the only four guys who should be content with their overall performance in 2013 are Pence, Belt, Bumgarner and Romo. Everyone else had/has room for improvement, and we'll talk about that next time.
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1 Comments:

  • At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Belt really improved over the year. I think his grip change with the bat had a lot to do with it. It always takes taller hitters longer to develop so I think Belt is just going to get better.

     

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