San Francisco Giants
Last year, the Giants were terrible. They followed up their 2016 Wild Card season by losing 98 games and posting their worst record in 32 years. This year, San Franciscans have seen their team improve to a .500 club, give or take, and while not completely out of the pennant race, unlikely to get any better. The Giants don't figure to be very active on the trade front this month, and any rebuilding they choose to do will likely wait for the offseason.
Their big acquisitions from the 2017-18 offseason have been busts. Right-fielder Andrew McCutchen is batting under .260 (though he is drawing a lot of walks), Austin Jackson has been traded away, and .246-hitting Evan Longoria is on the disabled list with a broken hand. All-Stars Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey, and near-All-Star Brandon Belt, are doing their thing, though, keeping the Giants respectable with solid performances, and ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner remains crazy-good.
One Giants strength that flies under the radar is their bullpen. Though closer Hunter Strickland is on the DL, the relief corps as a whole ranks fourth in the National League with a 3.60 ERA and third in opposition OPS with a .669 mark. On the flip side, they're dead last in save conversions, having blown 20 of 42 opportunities, so the runs they do give up tend to be big.
Players to Watch
Buster Posey: One of the best defensive catchers around is also one of the best hitting catchers. Though down from last year's Silver-Slugger-winning line, Posey's stats are consistent with his nine-year Major League career. He has shown a marked preference for playing at home this year, though; in San Francisco, his 2018 line is a typically-Posey .322/.410/.477, but on the road he's hitting just .247/.313/.327.
Brandon Crawford: An elite defensive shortstop, Crawford already has three Gold Gloves to his credit, can hit the occasional longball, and, while not a speedster per se, is a keen baserunner. His one real weakness is plate discipline—100+ strikeouts has been normal for him, and if he could cut down on those he could approach elite levels with the bat as well.
Hunter Pence: Though he's having a down year, Pence remains one of the most interesting players to watch. Among the game's (the world's?) more colorful personalities, Pence is beloved in San Fran and among most of baseball, and is thought to be a manager-in-waiting as his playing career winds down.
Pence has inspired fans in road cities to bring signs mocking him. After a photo of him in a New York diner holding a sign quoting a line from "Seinfeld" ("These pretzels are making me thirsty!") went viral, Met fans started the trend with signs at Citi Field like "Hunter Pence eats pizza with a fork" and "Hunter Pence likes Godfather III."
Bruce Bochy: This will be Bochy's 12th season helming the Giants, a tenure second only to the Angels' Mike Scoscia among current managers. he's taken San Francisco to the postseason four times in the past eight years—each of the even-numbered years—but number five will probably have to wait a while. San Francisco might be better than last year's club, but 2018 playoffs don't appear to be in the cards.
Alonzo Powell: There are no players on the Giants' roster that have been Mariners, but their hitting coach wore a Seattle uniform as a player in 1991 (he batted .216 with three homers and 12 RBI in 57 games after dominating in Triple-A) and as hitting coach in 2010. He also served as the Mariners' minor-league hitting instructor in 2006 and their Triple-A hitting coach in '07. Last year, Powell was part of the Houston Astros' World Championship campaign as an assistant coach, but the native San Franciscan was lured to the Giants by the man he replaced, Hensley Meulens, who shifted from hitting coach to bench coach. Powell and Meulens played independent league ball together and were contemporaries as gaijin-in-Japan in the 1990s, where they were first acquainted. Powell won three batting titles with the Chunichi Dragons (1994-96) and batted .313/.371/.510 overall in seven seasons in Japan's Central League.
|San Francisco Giants||(1958 - present)|
|World Champions:||1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954, 2010, 2012, 2014|
|League Champions:||1888, 1889, 1904, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1923, 1924, 1936, 1937, 1951, 1962, 1989, 2002|
|Division Titles:||1971, 1987, 1997, 2000, 2003|