The San Francisco Giants had an offseason of twists and turns and strikeouts. Their failures to lock up not one but two of the biggest free agent names in baseball in Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa would lead to a season of pessimism in most books. With this team however, they do still have talent. They made smaller offseason acquisitions that could have a major impact and bring the team over last season’s disappointing .500 mark at 81-81.
While the team will once again have big spending available in future off-seasons to look forward to, they want to focus on the season ahead. Just two seasons ago in 2021 with fairly low expectations, the team had a historic 107-win season.
While the Giants will face two teams filled with powerhouse names in the NL West, the division has had its share of some of baseball’s biggest under-achievers in recent years. Just look at how the Giants and San Diego Padres practically traded expected places in the standings in the aforementioned 2021 season. Here is a look at where the Giants stand.
Mitch Haniger (OF): Signed to a three-year $43.5 million contract, Haniger saw limited action due to an ankle sprain last season with the Seattle Mariners. He appeared in 57 games while recording a slash line of .246/.308/.429 with 11 home runs. Everyone knows about the power capabilities of Haniger. The 32-year-old slugged 39 home runs back in 2021 and 26 in 2018. No he isn’t Aaron Judge, but the former All Star certainly has the makings of someone who could provide a power spark. The team is certainly seeking that power spark who can bring them back to where they were offensively in 2021.
Michael Conforto (OF): The reason why this offseason was not a total loss for the team? Well, addition of not one but two former All Star outfielders. Conforto will look to be another injury bounceback story. He missed all of 2022 recovering from shoulder surgery. While his stats in the 2020 and 2021 seasons were not eye-popping, we know how much power he can produce having hit 25+ home runs each season between 2017-2019. In addition, he has shown a solid ability to get on base. Conforto should be a top competitor at spring training for the everyday left fielder role. This is because it looks as though last year’s left fielder Joc Pederson will become the team’s everyday designated hitter.
Ross Stripling (RHP): Stripling is coming off a solid 2022 in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation. He went 10-4 last season with a 3.01 ERA. In doing so he displayed a healthy mix of his fastball and breaking balls, while showing strong command. Stripling is a safe replacement option for the departed Carlos Rodon. He is most likely a fourth or fifth spot pitcher in a starting rotation that looks set.
Sean Manaea (LHP): Likely a fifth starter for the team, Manaea will be looking to bounce back to his 2021 form, when he pitched just across the bay with the Oakland Athletics. The southpaw saw a steep drop in his performance last season with the San Diego Padres. However, Manaea has showed an uptick in his sinking fastball during his spring debut according to MLB.COM. He could be even more effective if he also develops his slider and changeup usage.
Taylor Rogers (LHP): Joining his brother Tyler in the bullpen, the 32-year-old southpaw has added some depth to the backend of the relief core. Like Manaea, Rogers is looking to rebound. Rogers was an All Star back in 2021 with the Minnesota Twins when he appeared in 40 innings and averaged 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Last season he upped his appearances pitching in 64.1 innings. While his ERA jumped to 4.76, he maintained strong command of the strike zone striking out 11.9 per nine innings of work.
Brandon Belt (1B)
Spring Training Guide
How Will the Team Regroup After the Offseason Chaos?
It’s not just that the team eventually fell through on stars Aaron Judge or Carlos Correa. It’s the fact that it looked as though the team had each player locked up at one point. Judge went back to New York at the last minute, and Correa was just pending a physical. Again, despite the fact that they did not make these big moves, they are still a good team with some solid depth according to ZiPS. They just lack a major “x factor” in their lineup for anyone to have serious expectations about them in the National League West.
Will This Team See Power Numbers Not Seen Since the Bonds Era?
With dependance on the long ball being a huge thing in the game over the past decade, it will be shocking for some fans to believe that a team who won three World Series titles in the 2010s has not had a 30 home run hitter since Barry Bonds in 2004. That could very well change this year, even without Judge to decide the case.
The additions of Haniger and Conforto complement a group of roster returnees with power potential. In their memorable 2021 season, the team was second in the majors with 241 home runs. They took a step back last season ranking 12th in the league with 183. Their top four home run hitters from last season however will all be returning.
If this expectation that the team is raving about comes true, they will likely be led by Joc Pederson. Pederson was one of the game’s most productive hitters in the first half of last season. A team-high 23 homers in 2022, he also finished with a career best OPS+ of 144. Pederson and Haniger are both local products too. Could this be a homecoming of home runs by the bay?
Will Brandon Crawford Have a Major Comeback Season?
Speaking of local products, Mountain View California native and Giants veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford is officially the lone Giant left from their World Series teams in 2012 and 2014. Like the Giants as a team, Crawford flew under the radar last season following a memorable 2021. In 2021 Crawford had an MVP-caliber season hitting a career-best .298 with 24 home runs while winning his fourth gold glove.
While there is no doubt that the 36-year-old can return to his 2021 form, there are more questions surrounding him then ever. A longtime staple at shortstop in his career, this offseason saw some drama unfold at the position with the near-signing of Correa. Since that fell through, the spot is still Crawford’s, but it is also the final year on his 2-year $32 million contract. Crawford’s performance this year could be a defining moment not just for the future of his career, but for the team’s future on the infield as Crawford is currently the most proven on that infield.
It will be interesting to see how he rebounds from his job at shortstop looking like it was in jeopardy just months ago.
Giants Projected Opening Day Roster
Starting Lineup and Bench
- Catcher: Joey Bart
- First Base: LaMonte Wade Jr.
- Second Base: Thairo Estrada
- Shortstop: Brandon Crawford
- Third Base: Wilmer Flores
- Left Field: Michael Conforto
- Center Field: Mike Yastrzemski
- Right Field: Mitch Haniger
- Designated Hitter: Joc Pederson
Bench: David Villar, J.D. Davis, Austin Slater, Roberto Perez
- Logan Webb
- Alex Cobb
- Alex Wood
- Ross Stripling
- Sean Manaea
- Camilo Doval
- Taylor Rogers
- John Brebbia
- Tyler Rodgers
- Scott Alexander
- Jakob Junis
- Sam Long
- Anthony DeSclafani
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