2015 Season Previews: San Francisco Giants

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

San Francisco Giants

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 84-78 (3rd in NL West, 9th in MLB)

Manager: Bruce Bochy (667-629 in eight seasons with San Francisco, 1,618-1,604 in 20 seasons overall)

Top Three Players: C Buster Posey (6.1), LHP Madison Bumgarner (3.5), 1B Brandon Belt (3.3)

Bounce-back Player: RHP Matt Cain

Since the start of the 2013 season, Cain has gone 10-17 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 274.2 innings and 45 starts. Over the previous four seasons, Cain had gone 55-35 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 882 innings and 131 starts. The last two seasons, Cain has been on the disabled list four times and he has had two surgeries (bone chips removed from his right elbow and right ankle surgery to remove bone spurs). He was never on the disabled list prior to the 2013 season. Some people may think that the 30-year-old right-hander will be a bust after signing his mega-extension, but Cain has had some bad luck the last two seasons with his health, and he has still shown an ability to keep the opposition off the bases, despite the inflated ERA. Look for Cain to be a solid 1B to Bumgarner’s 1A as he returns to form in 2015.

Susac has the tools to be a big producer...if he gets a shot Courtesy: USA Today
Susac has the tools to be a big producer…if he gets a shot
Courtesy: USA Today

Fantasy Player to Watch: C Andrew Susac

Even with Brandon Belt at first base, it doesn’t seem like a smart investment to have your best player at such a vulnerable position in the midst of a nine-year, $164 million contract. For that reason, and that fact that Belt would be an offensive upgrade in a corner over Gregor Blanco, you should keep an eye on Susac, a second round pick in 2011 out of Oregon State. Susac is a slugger with solid on-base skills, while providing a strong arm and solid, but not elite, defense behind the dish. While he is unlikely to log 400 at-bats in San Francisco, possibly even 200 in 2015, there will come a time when Susac is catching and Posey will be manning first base or another position, and this 25-year-old will be worth rostering.

Offseason Overview: The defending world champions lost their star third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, to the Boston Red Sox via free agency, but they did sign OF Nori Aoki and 3B Casey McGehee…Is that enough? The Giants held tight across the board, and they hope to survive with their very good rotation until Hunter Pence returns from his broken forearm to help the offense score some runs. Why fix what has been working? Sandoval was good but not great, and they’ll benefit from the on-base skills from Aoki at the top of the order. That was a sneak-good signing, and the pitching is still there to be competitive.

The Verdict: Well, it isn’t an even year, so the Giants can be written off as champions, since they’ve won in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Maybe next year, they can continue on with their pattern. The 2015 season will be quite interesting. They’ll hope to get some value out of the two-year, $35 million deal they gave Tim Lincecum after his horrific 2012 and 2013 seasons, and they’ll look for continued dominance by Bumgarner, who had one of the most historical performances in baseball history down the stretch and in the playoffs last season. The Giants continue to coast with what they have, adding aging pieces in areas of need, continuing to watch Posey and Pence carry a very average (or worse) group of hitters. If they were able to add something more than what they did this winter, perhaps they could have been capable of repeating, but they’ll settle into the middle of the NL West with another above .500 record, preparing to pounce on some free agents after the 2015 season.


My 2013 MLB All-Star Team

Because so many people are clamoring over what I think, I figured it was time to make my All-Star ballot public, while filling up the rosters so that each team is represented. Feel free to ridicule and taunt my choices if you wish, but you’ll have to defend yourself.

 NLNational League – 35 players

Starting Lineup:

1. Carlos Gomez, CF, MIL: Continuing his awesome breakout.

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN: Huge production behind Votto in Cincy lineup.

3. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN: His numbers would look much better if he was pitched to.

4. David Wright, 3B, NYM: Hometown hero and best 3B in the NL.

5. Carlos Gonzalez, LF, COL: Hitting everywhere this year, even away from Coor’s.

6. Carlos Beltran, RF, STL: Defying age with a healthy, productive season.

7. Michael Cuddyer, DH, COL: Helping to make the Rockies a contender in 2013.

8. Buster Posey, C, SF: Tough choice over Molina, but his bat is still bigger.

9. Jean Segura, SS, MIL: Huge breakout by one of the key pieces in the Greinke deal with the Angels.

Starting Pitcher: Matt Harvey, RHP, NYM: Probably the biggest story in the biggest city in all of baseball, he gets the start at Citi Field.


Jeff Locke, LHP, PIT

Jason Grilli, RHP, PIT

Jordan Zimmerman, RHP, WAS

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, LAD

Patrick Corbin, LHP, ARZ

Cliff Lee, LHP, PHI

Adam Wainwright, RHP, STL

Shelby Miller, RHP, STL

Aroldis Chapman, LHP, CIN

Craig Kimbrel, RHP, ATL

Edward Mujica, RHP, STL

Rafael Soriano, RHP, WAS

Travis Wood, LHP, CHI-C

Jeff Samardzija, RHP, CHI-C

Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, PHI


Yadier Molina, C, STL

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARZ

Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL

Marco Scutaro, 2B, SF

Everth Cabrera, SS, SD

Giancarlo Stanton, RF, MIA

Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD

Domonic Brown, OF, PHI

Matt Carpenter, 2B, STL

Andrew McCutchen, CF, PIT

Biggest Snubs: Sergio Romo, RHP, SF; Kevin Gregg, RHP, CHI-C; Lance Lynn, RHP, STL; Allen Craig, 1B, STL; Mat Latos, RHP, CIN; Madison Bumgarner, LHP, SF; Rex Brothers, LHP, COL; A.J. Burnett, RHP, PIT; Nate Schierholtz, OF, CHI-C; Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CIN; Ryan Braun, LF, MIL; Bryce Harper, OF, WAS; Ian Desmond, SS, WAS; Chris Johnson, 1B/3B, ATL; Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, LAD; Wilin Rosario, C, COL; Evan Gattis, C/OF, ATL;

ALAmerican League – 35 players

Starting Lineup:

1. Mike Trout, LF, LAA: Having a “down” year when compared to his 2012 rookie season, which was one of the greatest in baseball history.

2. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY: Tough choice but his bat is still huge and he gets the start in NYC.

3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, DET: His numbers are even better than his 2012 Triple Crown winning season.

4. Chris Davis, 1B, BAL: An absolute monster season from the toss-in in the Koji Uehara deal with Texas.

5. Jose Bautista, RF, TOR: Production is slightly down, but Joey Bats is still a huge fan favorite.

6. David Ortiz, DH, BOS: Still producing as a member of AARP.

7. Adam Jones, CF, BAL: Continuing where he left off in 2012 and becoming one of the top players in baseball.

8. Joe Mauer, C, MIN: The power won’t ever be there again from his 2009 MVP season (28 HR), but he can find the gaps and be productive in ways that no other AL catcher can match.

9. Jhonny Peralta, SS, DET: Quietly having an incredible season as one of the worst defensive SS in baseball – loving his production, though.

Starting Pitcher: Yu Darvish, RHP, TEX: He just struck you out and you didn’t even know he threw three pitches. Having a dominant season.


Jesse Crain, RHP, CHI-W

Felix Hernandez, RHP, SEA

Justin Masterson, RHP, CLE

Max Scherzer, RHP, DET

Mariano Rivera, RHP, NYY

Joe Nathan, RHP, TEX

Clay Buchholz, RHP, BOS

Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, SEA

Ervin Santana, RHP, KC

Greg Holland, RHP, KC

Bartolo Colon, RHP, OAK

Matt Moore, LHP, TB

Bud Norris, RHP, HOU

Glen Perkins, LHP, MIN

Jim Johnson, RHP, BAL


Jason Castro, C, HOU

Adam Lind, 1B, TOR

Prince Fielder, 1B, DET

Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS

Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE

Evan Longoria, 3B, TB

Manny Machado, 3B, BAL

Jed Lowrie, SS, OAK

Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX

Coco Crisp, OF, OAK

Biggest Snubs: Josh Donaldson, 3B, OAK; J.J. Hardy, SS, BAL; Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX; Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA; Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA; Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B/DH, TOR; Carlos Santana, C, CLE; Hiroki Kuroda, RHP, NYY; Chris Sale, LHP, CHI-W; Addison Reed, RHP, CHI-W; Grant Balfour, RHP, OAK; Casey Janssen, RHP, TOR;


Is WAR Useful for Fantasy Leagues?

Miguel CabreraTrout1

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, came to the forefront of MVP balloting last season for many voters. Mike Trout, who, according to Fangraphs.com had a 10.0 WAR lost the AL MVP award to the Triple Crown winning Miguel Cabrera, who had a 7.1 WAR.

WAR can be calculated in various ways, as there is not one, established way of calculating the statistic. Fangraphs and Baseball Reference (position players and pitchers) are my go-to sites for different statistics, and they both calculate WAR differently (click on the above hyperlinks to read how they do that).

Due to the inconsistency in the statistic and the inconsistency in the overall value of the statistic (as evidenced by the number of baseball writers that didn’t consider the difference in value in Trout and Cabrera in 2012), should fantasy baseball consider using WAR as a summative (end of season) statistic, adding it to a 5 X 5 league for additional player values, or should it be used as a way to value players as you approach your 2013 fantasy drafts?

I wanted to see what the 2012 ESPN Player Rater, the 2013 ESPN Player Projections, the 2012 Fangraphs.com WAR Rankings, and the 2013 ZiPS WAR Rankings could show based on player performance. Below is the table that I created:

2012 ESPN   Player Rater 2013 ESPN   Rankings 2012 WAR 2013 ZiPS WAR
1 Mike Trout Ryan Braun Mike Trout, 10.0 Mike Trout, 7.4
2 Ryan Braun Mike Trout Buster Posey, 8.0 Miguel Cabrera, 6.5
3 Miguel Cabrera Miguel Cabrera Ryan Braun, 7.9 Giancarlo Stanton,   6.4
4 Andrew McCutchen Robinson Cano Robinson Cano, 7.8 Clayton Kershaw, 6.4
5 R.A. Dickey Andrew McCutchen David Wright, 7.8 Buster Posey, 6.2
6 Josh Hamilton Matt Kemp Chase Headley, 7.5 Robinson Cano, 6.1
7 Fernando Rodney Albert Pujols Andrew McCutchen, 7.4 Felix Hernandez, 6.1
8 Justin Verlander Carlos Gonzalez Miguel Cabrera, 7.1 Ryan Braun, 5.9
9 Clayton Kershaw Joey Votto Justin Verlander, 6.8 Justin Verlander, 5.7
10 Craig Kimbrel Prince Fielder Jason Heyward, 6.6 Cliff Lee, 5.7
11 Alex Rios Troy Tulowitzki Adrian Beltre, 6.5 Joey Votto, 5.6
12 Adrian Beltre Justin Upton Yadier Molina, 6.5 Troy Tulowitzki, 5.3
13 Edwin Encarnacion Justin Verlander Aramis Ramirez, 6.5 Andrew McCutchen, 5.3
14 Chase Headley Clayton Kershaw Michael Bourn, 6.4 Zack Greinke, 5.3
15 David Price Giancarlo Stanton Aaron Hill, 6.2 Adrian Beltre, 5.2
16 Aroldis Chapman Buster Posey Felix Hernandez, 6.1 Dustin Pedroia, 5.2
17 Robinson Cano David Wright Martin Prado, 5.9 Madison Bumgarner,   5.0
18 Adam Jones Adrian Beltre Ben Zobrist, 5.9 Carlos Gonzalez, 4.9
19 Matt Cain Josh Hamilton Alex Gordon, 5.9 Evan Longoria, 4.8
20 Gio Gonzalez Jose Bautista Clayton Kershaw, 5.5 David Price, 4.8
21 Aaron Hill Evan Longoria Austin Jackson, 5.5 Ben Zobrist, 4.7
22 Jered Weaver Felix Hernandez Gio Gonzalez, 5.4 Bryce Harper, 4.7
23 Aramis Ramirez Hanley Ramirez Ian Desmond, 5.4 Matt Kemp, 4.7
24 David Wright Stephen Strasburg Torii Hunter, 5.3 Matt Cain, 4.7
25 Carlos Gonzalez David Price Matt Holliday, 5.1 Jose Bautista, 4.6
26 Prince Fielder Dustin Pedroia David Price, 5.1 Yadier Molina, 4.6
27 Buster Posey Ian Kinsler Yu Darvish, 5.1 Gio Gonzalez, 4.6
28 Jose Reyes Jason Heyward Zack Greinke, 5.1 Matt Wieters, 4.5
29 Billy Butler Jose Reyes Joe Mauer, 5.0 Brett Lawrie, 4.5
30 Cole Hamels Matt Cain Miguel Montero, 5.0 Ian Kinsler, 4.5
31 Kris Medlen Edwin Encarnacion Jimmy Rollins, 4.9 Yu Darvish, 4.5
32 Albert Pujols Cliff Lee Prince Fielder, 4.9 Roy Halladay, 4.5
33 Matt Holliday Cole Hamels Bryce Harper, 4.9 Joe Mauer, 4.4
34 Michael Bourn Adam Jones Chris Sale, 4.9 Carlos Santana, 4.4
35 Johnny Cueto Starlin Castro Cliff Lee, 4.9 Stephen Strasburg,   4.4
36 Jason Motte Jay Bruce Josh Reddick, 4.8 Cole Hamels, 4.4
37 Jason Heyward Bryce Harper Angel Pagan, 4.8 Jered Weaver, 4.4
38 Ian Desmond Billy Butler Wade Miley, 4.8 Jason Heyward, 4.3
39 Felix Hernandez Jered Weaver Johnny Cueto, 4.8 CC Sabathia, 4.3
40 Kyle Lohse Zack Greinke CC Sabathia, 4.8 Ryan Zimmerman, 4.2
41 Carlos Beltran Adrian Gonzalez Adam Jones, 4.6 Adam Wainwright, 4.2
42 Jim Johnson Brandon Phillips R.A. Dickey, 4.6 Albert Pujols, 4.1
43 Chris Sale Craig Kimbrel Max Scherzer, 4.6 Prince Fielder, 4.1
44 Giancarlo Stanton Chase Headley Dustin Pedroia, 4.5 Austin Jackson, 4.1
45 Derek Jeter Jacoby Ellsbury Ryan Zimmerman, 4.5 Jose Reyes, 4.1
46 Curtis Granderson Matt Holliday Jose Reyes, 4.5 Anthony Rizzo, 4.0
47 B.J. Upton B.J.Upton Cole Hamels, 4.5 Starlin Castro, 3.9
48 Melky Cabrera Yadier Molina Edwin Encarnacion,   4.4 Dexter Fowler, 3.9
49 Jimmy Rollins Gio Gonzalez Josh Hamilton, 4.4 Chase Headley, 3.9
50 Jonathan Papelbon Adam Wainwright Jake Peavy, 4.4 Miguel Montero, 3.9
Adam Wainwright, 4.4 Adrian Gonzalez, 3.9

When I was compiling this sheet, there were names within the top 50 players in baseball and several surprises. Furthermore, the lack of rhyme or reason when it comes to ranking players in fantasy baseball is evident through the ESPN rankings from the 2012 season compared to the sites rankings for the 2013 season. For example, R.A. Dickey went from 5th overall in 2012 to outside of the top 50 in 2013.

When looking at the WAR rankings for the 2012 season, names like Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill, Yadier Molina, Alex Gordon, Martin Prado, and Ben Zobrist popped into the top 20 spots in player value. Certainly, their defensive skills come into play here, but isn’t there value in defense that could be used within fantasy baseball? Would defensive zone ratings come into play and how would that destroy the value that Miguel Cabrera creates for himself on offense?

While fantasy baseball players would be apprehensive to the idea of bringing defensive value into their games, wouldn’t WAR be a better way to show true player values within fantasy sports, as it is in real-life baseball? How could you add WAR to your fantasy league – as a running statistic (similar to ERA and WHIP, which can change dramatically from game to game), or should it be a single counting statistic that can be added at the end of the regular season?

ZobristShouldn’t a player like Ben Zobrist, who ranks as the 11th most valuable position player in baseball the last three seasons, be considered an asset in fantasy baseball due to his value on the real diamond? Sure, his .259 batting average brings down his value, but he is just one of nine players over the last three seasons to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases, while posting an OPS of .792 with solid on-base skills to go along with his multiple position eligibility (2B/SS/OF).

There is no perfect way to determine player values from year to year, especially when regression can come from aging, change of scenary, teammates moving to another club, or injuries. While you probably don’t want to draft a player like Chase Headley, Zobrist, or Alex Gordon in your first 20 picks, there is value in the consistency of overall production, as WAR grades out baserunning for position players, as well, which is why Trout and Braun have so much more value as the No.1 or No.2 pick than Cabrera.

WAR is valuable in fantasy preparation, and while it can be inconsistent, the same can be said for batting average, ERA, WHIP, wins, and any other statistic used in compiling player values.

The bigger challenge is how WAR can become an asset as a part of your fantasy league, and not just a method for determining the value of players over the course of the season.

2013 Nerdy Baseball Stat Projections: Hitters

Baseball nerds are looking at all kinds of statistics that weren’t listed on the back of a baseball card when we were growing up. With the newer FIP, BABIP, and WAR statistics that have become a part of analysis of player abilities, it seems to be easier to project rebound candidates, potential breakouts, or potential flops based on these newer, sabermetric-based statistics. After looking at pitchers, lets take at look at some hitters:

BABIP Winners and Losers for 2013

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is an interesting statistic. FanGraphs.com has some really useful information on BABIP in their glossary and Tristan H. Cockcroft (awesome name, bro) had an interesting piece on how to use BABIP when putting your fantasy team together. Both discuss variables in how the statistic can be flawed, as Fangraphs focused on defense, luck, and talent level, while Cockcroft focused on “raw hitting skills, raw pitching skills, type of contact, and quality of contact.”

Regardless of those variables, the fact remains that, as Cockcroft says, the league average in 2012 was .297, while Fangraphs goes further, stating:

The average BABIP for hitters is around .290 to .310.  If you see any player that deviates from this average to an extreme, they’re likely due for regression.

However, hitters can influence their BABIPs to some extent. For example, speedy hitters typically have high career BABIP rates (like Ichiro and his .357 career BABIP), so don’t expect all players to regress to league average.

For the purpose of this piece, however, the extreme deviations from normal are taken into consideration.

Hitters to Target


Courtesy: NJ.com
Courtesy: NJ.com

Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets:  If you search this site, you’ll see that I have a bit of a man crush on Davis. In 2012, Davis managed to hit .227/3.08/.462 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI, all while posting a BABIP of just .246. The .271/.369/.460 line, 26 home runs, and 41 doubles over his first 750 plate appearances shows that Davis is quite capable of becoming an offensive force. The regression in batting average can be related to the Valley Fever that sapped his energy in spring training of last season, but with an increase in BABIP, Davis could become a .270 hitter with 35-40 home runs, even while playing half of his games at Citi Field for the Mets. Davis will turn 26 in late March and is well on his way to a huge rebound or breakout in 2013.



HosmerEric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: Sophomore slump…yeah right. Hosmer hit .232/.304/.359 with 14 home runs in 2012, while posting a .255 BABIP. He increased his walk rate from 6 percent in his rookies season to 9.4 percent last year, while maintaining a line drive percent (18.7 percent in 2011, 18.5 percent in 2012). It just seems like the ground ball percentage, which jumped from 49.7 to 53.6 percent, played a role in his huge decrease in BABIP, which was at .314 in 2011. Hosmer will play the entire 2013 season at the age of 23. With great plate discipline and tremendous athleticism, he is a tremendous name to grab in hopes of a potential All-Star campaign. His early spring results (.391/.462/.696) could be an indication of such a breakout, as Hosmer heads off to take Mark Teixiera’s place on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Jemile Weeks, 2B, Oakland Athletics: Weeks is an interesting player, having thrived in 2011, much like Hosmer, posting a .303/.340/.421 line, before crashing to a .221/.305/.304 line last season. Weeks has tremendous speed, but he has been thrown out stealing 16 times in 54 attempts, a 70 percent success rate, which has been about the norm throughout his career, as he was 41 for 55 (74 percent) in the minors. Weeks had nine infield hits in 2011 but just eight in 2012 in 74 more plate appearances, while his BABIP fell from .350 in 2011 to .256 last season. With a drastic increase in his walk rate (from 4.8 percent in 2011 to 9.8 percent in 2012) and the potential for a rebound in his BABIP to even .290, Weeks would see a solid increase in overall production. However, the Athletics have reloaded their roster, trading for Jed Lowrie, signing Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, while welcoming back Scott Sizemore from injury. With so many options, Weeks needs to start quickly. If he can find a way to use the speed that he has with the ability to utilize slap the ball all over the field, as he did in 2011, Weeks will be valuable to the A’s and fantasy baseball owners.

SmoakJustin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but…this is the year that Justin Smoak breaks out!!! Smoak may be one of the most unlucky hitters in baseball, as his career BABIP is just .256. A career line of .223/.306/.377 in 1,421 plate appearances could say that Smoak is what he is…bad. However, over the last month of the season, Smoak hit .341/.426/.580 with five home runs, 11 RBI, and a 13:13 K:BB in 101 plate appearances. This spring, Smoak is hitting .500/.556/1.000 with two home runs in his first 16 at-bats. After posting another low BABIP in 2012, .242, while seeing his walk and strikeout rates hold to around his career norms. Smoak needs to stay hot after the Mariners added Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, and Kendrys Morales to the club this winter, each of whom could slide into a DH/1B/LF role, which would limit Smoak’s playing time.

Hitters to Avoid

Fowler1Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies: Fowler turns 27 in late March, the magic number for a prime breakout. In 2012, Fowler posted an absurd .390 BABIP, while compiling a .300/.389/.474 line, 18 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, and 12 stolen bases, the definition of a box score filler. He has always had solid plate discipline, as his 12.8 percent walk rate and .364 career on-base percentage show, so is he for real? Maybe this is just who he is, as he posted a .351 BABIP in 2009, .328 in 2010, and .354 in 2011 before the jump to .390 last season; however, .390 is so unrealistic and “lucky”, isn’t it? Even if Fowler manages to maintain his career .353 BABIP, he’ll see a slight decline in his overall numbers. I’m a big fan of Fowler’s, but expecting him to duplicate his BABIP is unreasonable, though he could add enough power with his on-base skills to be very useful for the Rockies and fantasy geeks alike.

Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers: Jackson is the poster boy for inflated BABIP and what they can do with inflation and deflation. Check out these statistics:

2010 DET 618 103 181 34 10 4 41 27 47 170 .293 .345 .400 .745
2011 DET 591 90 147 22 11 10 45 22 56 181 .249 .317 .374 .690
2012 DET 543 103 163 29 10 16 66 12 67 134 .300 .377 .479 .856
3 Yrs 1752 296 491 85 31 30 152 61 170 485 .280 .346 .416 .761
162 Game Avg. 644 109 180 31 11 11 56 22 62 178 .280 .346 .416 .761
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/7/2013.

In 2010, Jackson’s BABIP was: .396

In 2011, Jackson’s BABIP was: .340

In 2012, Jackson’s BABIP was .371

While Jackson has a career BABIP of .370, if he reverts to his undisciplined, free swinging ways  of 2010 and 2011 (when he had strikeout rates of 25.2 and 27.1 percent), he could see a large decline in his overall numbers, similar to the drop-off in 2011. However, with his gains in power (career-high 16 home runs) and his walk rate (10.8 percent), he, too, will still have some value, especially hitting in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.

PoseyBuster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants: Posey was the NL MVP, and with good reason, posting a .336/.408/.549 line in 2012. The only issue could be that batting average, which could have seen a huge bump from Posey’s .368 BABIP. Previously, he had posted BABIPs of .315 in 2010 and .326 in 2011. While Posey does have some speed, will he be a catcher capable of 17 infield hits every season? While he is a very special talent, Posey may not repeat his incredible 2012 totals, especially if Brandon Belt solidifies himself as an everyday first baseman. Will they sit Belt if he is having a breakout season so that Posey can take a day off behind the plate? Posey is still the top catcher available in fantasy leagues and the top offensive catcher in baseball, with the ability to post numbers that only Matt Wieters, Salvador Perez, or Carlos Santana seem capable of reaching, but can he continue to post an extremely high BABIP going forward? For that reason alone, be cautious in putting too much stock into the superstar catcher.

How the Giants Can Repeat in 2013

The San Francisco Giants won the NL West, won three straight games in Cincinnati in the NLDS to stave off elimination, then won three in a row to stave off elimination against St. Louis in the NLCS, before having an easy go of things while sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. The Giants rode the wave of an amazing fan base (over 3.3 million at AT&T Park in 2012) and even more amazing pitching, developing a group of talented arms to lift them to their second championship in three seasons.

Looking ahead to 2013, the Giants have a few players that they may be concerned about as they reach free agency. Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt played important roles in the playoffs, while Melky Cabrera (prior to his 50-game suspension) was a superstar and Ryan Theriot provided depth for the middle infield throughout the regular season.

Should the Giants bring back Cabrera, trusting that he can be an All-Star without synthetic testosterone, or should they count on the core that brought the team a title, re-signing Pagan and counting on Gregor Blanco in left in 2013? With Freddy Sanchez and his brittle body reaching free agency, can the Giants afford to let Scutaro, who hit .362/.385/.473 in 61 games with San Francisco, leave town?

While the champions have questions at second base and the outfield, they don’t have many elsewhere on the diamond. Hunter Pence struggled to a .219/.287/.384 line once he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies, but he is under team control for one more season, he is a solid regular in right field, and his useful right-handed bat will complement the order, allowing Bruce Bochy to have a switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Pence, and left-handed hitting Brandon Belt in the middle of the order. Belt finally has trust from Bochy, as well, taking over the first base job exclusively from Aubrey Huff and hitting .329/.401/.494 over the final two months of the season. Brandon Crawford showed that his slick glove can overcome his career .235/.299/.333 triple-slash, showcasing his powerful throwing arm and range for a national audience during the playoffs.

Courtesy: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Beyond the everyday players, the Giants are absolutely loaded with pitching. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, and Tim Lincecum are all signed for next season. Some have wondered what Lincecum’s role will be, especially after he thrived out of the bullpen in October, but he’ll probably get a shot at the rotation before they pay him $22 million to be a relief pitcher in 2013. Speaking of money…Cain, Zito, and Lincecum combine to earn $62 million in 2013, while Vogelsong’s $5 million and Bumgarner’s $750,000 salaries are clearly bargains.

The bullpen is interesting, as well. Brian Wilson (aka “The Beard) is arbitration-eligible, so could he be non-tendered since Sergio Romo showed that he was capable of dominating as a closer in the playoffs and throughout the season? With Santiago Casilla as insurance in the closer role, it could be possible. Affeldt teamed with Javier Lopez as a dominating left-handed duo. If Affeldt is not re-signed, Jose Mijares, who posted a 2.56 ERA over 78 appearances (27 with the Giants), may see a bump in usage.

The San Francisco Giants are set up to be contenders again in 2013. While the team has a need in center or left field, depending on whether they try to re-sign Melky Cabrera or Angel Pagan, their most glaring hole will be the leadership and skills that second baseman Marco Scutaro brought to the club after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies. With a strong pitching staff from top to bottom, and a solid core of offensive talent, led by Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Hunter Pence, the Giants can and will continue to get by with very little offensive help from their other pieces. It is all because their rotation can be so dominant, as evidenced by their 71-49 record and 3.73 ERA in 2012.

Look for the Giants to find a way to keep both Scutaro and Pagan, their No.1 and No.2 hitters, and do very little else on the free agent market to keep the core of this talented group together. They really can’t afford to do much else due to the contracts to Zito and Lincecum, but selling out AT&T Park and the revenue that comes along with 3.3 million fans and a title could lead to a surprise signing.

Move Buster Posey from Catcher

Buster Posey had an MVP-type season in 2012, as I even picked him as the NL MVP for my own 2012 MLB Awards. Posey posted a .336/.408/.549 line, winning his first batting title, leading the majors in OPS+, and, obviously, leading the San Francisco Giants to the 2012 World Series.

Posey played shortstop at Florida State in his Freshman year, 2006, before moving to catcher in his Sophomore season, when he was a finalist for the 2007 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, given to the top Division I catcher in college baseball. Not a bad start, and the fact that Posey gunned down 40.9 percent of potential base stealers in his first season behind the dish showed his defensive potential.

Posey was drafted by the Giants with the 5th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. He was up for good by 2010, having compiled 750 at-bats in the minors, helping the Giants win the World Series and winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year.

When Scott Cousins ripped up Posey’s ankle sliding into home plate on May 25, 2011, Posey would go on to miss the next 114 games and the Giants missed the playoffs. They won the World Series in 2010 and they are back there in 2012. Coincidence?

Buster Posey is fully aware of the injuries that can occur when catching, having lived through his disaster in 2011. It isn’t limited to the leg injury, though, as a collision could lead to a concussion, which could then lead to post-concussion syndromes whenever a foul ball rocks Posey’s hockey goalie-style mask. Look at Justin Morneau‘s spiraling career to see how quickly concussions can ruin everything you have worked for.

Buster Posey is a fantastic catcher. His career fielding percentage is .992, which is league average since he arrived in the bigs, but his range factor is above-average at catcher. He has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers in his career (the league average in 27), while mashing to the tune of a .307/.374/.494 triple slash in 877 at-bats and 235 games as a catcher. Posey has 46 doubles, two triples, 38 home runs, and 152 RBI as a catcher.

Posey is a work in progress at first baseman. However, Posey has hit .355/.415/.571 in 217 at-bats and 61 games when playing first base. He has 21 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, and 37 RBI when playing first.

Buster Posey is an excellent catcher and he can handle the position, but can the Giants afford life without him? Should they protect their star player and the face of the Giants’ franchise by moving him now?

The 2011 season shows what the Giants are without Buster Posey. The injury to Posey could, eventually, lead to arthritis in his left knee and ankle due to the breaking of bones and the tear of ligaments.

Hector Sanchez is ready to play regularly. He turns 23 years old on November 17 and he is a switch-hitter. Sanchez jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011, receiving 31 at-bats in San Francisco that year. However, Sanchez isn’t going to develop into the hitter that he could be, the same one who hit 12 home runs and drove in 84 runs in the 2011 minor league season, if he doesn’t get regular playing time.

Buster Posey doesn’t need to move off of catcher to make room for Hector Sanchez. Buster Posey needs to move off of catcher to produce even bigger numbers, to win more MVP awards, and to continue to make the Giants World Series contenders for the next several seasons.

Posey could even play catcher sporadically, as Victor Martinez did in 2011 with Alex Avila taking over the regular catching duties in Detroit. You could even make the argument that Posey is better off in the outfield than first base, due to the presence of Brandon Belt, who plays a Gold Glove level defense at first, and the athletic ability that Posey possesses.

Whatever happens, Posey is a superstar and he needs to stay on the field for the San Francisco Giants to be legitimate World Series contenders. Moving him off of catcher is a choice that could keep him on the field, prolong his career, and continue to allow the Giants to reap the benefits of having Posey in their lineup for more games, which allows him to impact the whole 162-game season.

World Series Preview

With the Giants Game 7 win on Monday night in San Francisco, the world prepares for its series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at AT&T Park. The Giants get home-field advantage with that awesome Bud Selig, All-Star Game idea, as the National League won the mid-summer classic in July.

Some things to look forward to:


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The Tigers’ starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA in nine postseason games, covering 62 innings, while posting a 66:19 K:BB. That stat includes the absolute domination of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, where Tigers’ starters were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA. The Tigers have the luxury of setting up their rotation for Game 1, which would allow them to start Justin Verlander in Game 1, 4, and 7; however, Jim Leyland has penciled in a four-man rotation in the World Series, with Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer slated to toe the rubber for the Tigers.

The Giants taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games and losing Matt Cain is sort of devastating for the outlook on the series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy could surprise people with what he does, especially after moving Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum around from the rotation to the bullpen already within this postseason. If Bochy keeps his NLCS roster, the Giants could start Tim Lincecum in Game 1, followed by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain in Game 4. Due to Lincecum’s struggles in Game 4 of the NLCS, could the “rest” that Bumgarner received allow him to jump back into the rotation, after Bochy said he was “tired” after his Game 1 loss to the Cardinals?

However the Giants rotation shapes up, the spacious ballparks involved in this series will allow for success from the least likely of candidates. The power that lies in the arms of the Tigers’ starting pitchers could make for some high strikeout totals, while the blend of power and finesse in the Giants rotation could lead to some very low scoring games.


Power in the throwing arms is evident but the greatest asset that the Tigers possess are the two bats in the middle of their order, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Those two are capable of changing the game with one swing, and while the Giants have power in the bats of Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey, they aren’t nearly as productive, historically and recently, as the portly sluggers on the Tigers.

Courtesy: USAtoday.com

While Comerica Park and AT&T Park can sap the power in both lineups, both teams have enough on-base and speed guys (see Austin Jackson and Marco Scutaro) to manufacture runs. However, one swing of the bat can change everything, just ask Cincinnati fans, who saw the grand slam by Posey in Game 5 of the NLDS destroy their lives. While the advantage lies with Fielder and Cabrera, the Giants, so long thought to be ineffective offensively, have enough to win this series.


There is nothing better than postseason baseball. Watching the fans in San Francisco the last two nights is what makes baseball special. While they were there for all of the 81 home games in the 2012 regular season, the fire and excitement over the last two nights fueled the Giants to an amazing comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS.

The Tigers are showing the passion of a city in the middle of a rebirth. While there were times of weakness, the strengths of Detroit came out to conquer those moments, establishing the franchise as a legitimate juggernaut, just as Detroit has done with the rebound of the American car manufacturing companies.

The pitching is going to make the “normal baseball fan” bored, but this series is exactly what the die-hard fans enjoy. The team that makes the first mistake in each game will lose, and the scores will look lower than a Tiger Woods scorecard before his man-whorishness was made public.

What to Expect:

The Giants will enjoy their home-field advantage in Game 1, continuing the momentum that drove them to a tremendous comeback over the Tigers, but due to the opening game loss, Jim Leyland will run Justin Verlander out for Game 4 and again in Game 7, which the Tigers will win with another Verlander shutout.  Max Scherzer becomes the Tigers’ version of Trevor Rosenthal, making several appearances but totally shutting down the opposition.

Tigers in 7. Justin Verlander will be the World Series MVP. Brian Wilson‘s beard is still better than Sergio Romo‘s, however, it’s still a distant second to Peter Griffin’s.  

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