The Giants failed to produce the same magic in 2013 that led to a World Championship in 2012. Reality set in for the ball club, as Matt Cain had one of the worst seasons of his career, Buster Posey had a terrible 2nd half in 2013, Pablo Sandoval was not the good version of the Panda, Ryan Vogelsong spent most of the season on the DL, and Tim Lincecum continued his fall from fantasy greatness. There were some bright spots on this ball club in 2013, as Yusmeiro Petit proved that he can serve as a nice option at the back of the starting rotation and Sergio Romo showed that he has the tenacity to be a top closer. The Giants were World Series Champions in 2010 and 2012, so if the even-numbered years trend continues, things could be looking up in San Francisco in 2014. Now, let’s take a look at the top fantasy options on the San Francisco Giants for the 2014 baseball season.
1. C – Buster Posey
The Giants star backstop had a disappointing season in 2013 by his standards. After accumulating 24 HR’s and 103 RBI’s in 2012, Posey was unable to duplicate that performance, hitting just 15 HR’s with 72 RBI’s in 2013. But the splits are even more worrisome. Posey was his usual self in the first of the 2013 season, hitting for a .325 BA with 13 HR’s and 56 RBI’s. But then, after the All-Star break, the catcher was only able to hit for a .244 BA along with just 2 HR’s and 16 RBI’s! What happened? Posey fractured his right ring finger in September, but his problems started long before that. As far as we know, he was healthy for most of the 2nd half. Mark Petriello wrote an interesting article over at fangraphs that you can access here, about how the Giants might have been overusing Posey, which could have been what led to his terrible 2nd half in 2013. He is still one of the top fantasy options at catcher going into 2014, but fantasy managers have reason to be hesitant when using an early pick on the backstop.
2014 Projection = 524 AB, .294 BA, 23 HR, 92 RBI, 73 R, 2 SB.
2. SP – Madison Bumgarner
The 24 year-old left handed hurler took over as the ace of the Giant’s pitching staff in 2013, as Matt Cain struggled at times and Tim Lincecum failed to reproduce his once dominant form yet again in 2013. While everything seemed to go wrong for the Giants last year, Bumgarner stayed consistently dominant, and was one of the few bright spots on the club. The south-paw has made significant improvements to his WHIP in each of the last 3 seasons, recording a 1.21 WHIP in 2011, a 1.11 WHIP in 2012, and a 1.03 WHIP in 2013. Since becoming a full-time big leaguer, Bumgarner’s ERA has always been just over 3, until last year when he was able to post a 2.77 ERA in 201.3 innings pitched. He is still very young and just keeps on getting better. Madison Bumgarner is a fine choice to anchor your fantasy staff in 2014, and an even better choice in dynasty leagues, as the young ace is just starting to reach his potential.
2014 Projection = 205 IP, 15 W, 3.15 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 192 K.
3. OF – Hunter Pence
The All-Star outfielder has been one of the most consistent fantasy producers in baseball over the past 6 years. Hunter’s lowest at-bat total in the past 6 years was in 2009 when he accumulated 585 AB’s. He has hit between 22 and 27 HR’s in each of the previous 6 seasons. Pence has driven in between 91 and 104 RBI’s each of the past 4 seasons. As a career .285 batter, he can also help your batting average while chipping in a few SB’s. You don’t want to rely on Pence as your top offensive weapon, but the consistency he has demonstrated throughout his career can allow fantasy mangers to depend on the outfielder to put up his usual numbers year in and year out. It doesn’t matter what lineup or ball park he is playing in, you know what to expect from Pence. And that type of reliability is always welcome on fantasy rosters.
2014 Projection = 596 AB, .284 BA, 25 HR, 97 RBI, 89 R, 15 SB.
4. SP – Matt Cain
The usually very consistent Matt Cain endured the worst season of his career in 2013. His ERA was over 4.00 in 2013, after hovering around 3.00 during the previous 4 seasons. After looking at his stats, something stood out to me about Cain’s 2013 season. There was 1 start in each of the first four months of the season where Cain allowed 6, 7, or 8 earned runs. Cain had 1 other game the entire season where he allowed 4 runs, and allowed just 3 earned runs or less in his remaining starts. I just don’t know what to make of Cain being his usual dominant self for 4 or 5 starts in a row, and then imploding for a start, before returning back to form for the next 4 or 5 starts. One thing you can take away from this: Cain is still capable of being a dominant pitcher. Plus, he is smart and knows when to make adjustments, so I expect him to figure this out before next year. Our own Dave Morris Jr. recently wrote an interesting piece about Matt Cain and his 2013 struggles that you can find here. Be sure to check it out for a more in depth look at Cain’s 2013 season. I agree with Dave, and expect this SP to get back to form and turn in a typical Matt Cain season for fantasy managers in 2014.
2014 Projection = 215 IP, 14 W, 3.35 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 179 K.
5. RP – Sergio Romo
The Giants set-up man was handed the closer’s role towards the end of the 2012 season, and hasn’t looked back since. Romo has already established himself as a top notch closer capable of handling any high pressure situation thrown his way. The Giant’s reliever has a career 2.27 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while striking out over a batter per inning. The Giants starting pitchers keep the score low and the team in close games, which in turn provides plenty of save opportunities for the bullpen. Add that to the fact that the Giants play in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks, and all signs point in the right direction for Romo to maintain his dominant form in 2014. The only difference between Sergio Romo and the Craig Kimbrel/Aroldis Chapman tier of closers are those few extra strikeouts. If you can draft Romo a few rounds after the first closers go off the board, you should have a comparable player while not having to invest as much in your RP’s as your fellow league mates.
2014 Projection = 62 IP, 3 W, 39 S, 2.25 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 65 K.
What do you think? Is everyone above listed in the correct order of fantasy value?
Did Tim Lincecum, Brandon Belt, or Pablo Sandoval deserve mention?
What would your Top 5 Giants Fantasy List look like?