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2019 MLB Team Preview: San Francisco Giants

A look at the San Francisco Giants with a fantasy baseball slant.

MLB: Texas Rangers at San Francisco Giants
The 2019 Giants will rely on Buster Posey to be “their” Superstar yet again.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats:
Final Record: 73-89
RS/G: 3.72 (29th)
RA/G: 4.31 (15th)
SB: 77 (16th)
ERA: 3.95 (18th)
Saves: 36 (25th)
Strikeouts: 1269 (22nd)

(RS/G - Runs Scored Per Game, RA/G - Runs Allowed Per Game)

The San Francisco Giants have fallen from the top of the National League West the past two seasons. An interesting sidenote to that is the team has still managed to draw over three million fans each of the previous two seasons, despite a poor product on the field. The loyalty runs strong in San Francisco. The Giants appear to be headed towards even harder times as trade rumors swirl around some of their big name players. The 2018 Giants had a horrible time scoring runs, which does not appear to be getting any better for 2019. Last season’s team was middle-of-the-pack in terms of pitching, however, with the aforementioned trade rumors, as well as potentially going to the opener, it could limit the number of viable fantasy baseball pitchers available from this roster.

The Superstar: Buster Posey

If this post were written a handful of years ago I’d feel much better about tagging Buster Posey with the label of Superstar. As it is now, someone must fill this spot. Posey had hip surgery last August which could call into question when exactly he’ll be ready to start the 2019 season. Being a catcher, the question also becomes how much longer will Posey squat down behind the dish moving forward? For fantasy baseball purposes, Posey will be catcher eligible in 2019, which is the largest driver of his Superstar tag herein. As we’ve detailed in previous Team Previews, the 2019 catcher pool is bad. Posey’s 2018 season saw a massive drop in his power metrics and home run total (5). A .284 batting average is still good in today’s fantasy landscape, especially when you weigh it against other players at the catcher position. Posey should also continue to find himself hitting in the middle of a poor Giants offense, which will somewhat help with runs and RBIs. Posey is currently being selected at pick 137th overall (fifth catcher) in early NFBC drafts.

The Sleeper: Tony Watson

Admittedly I’m stretching here, but let’s go with it. The 2019 Giants may not have a ton of save opportunities, at least projected, but Tony Watson could find himself in the mix if Will Smith were to falter. There is also the real possibility that Watson is traded at some point in 2019 to a team in need of emergency bullpen help. After a somewhat rough 2017 season, Watson’s skills rebounded with a strong first pitch strike rate and above average swing and miss rate. His 1.03 WHIP was much better than the 1.38 mark in 2017 and more in line with his career 1.08 WHIP. Fantasy owners in very deep leagues and/or Draft & Hold (D&H) formats should take a flier on Watson if speculative saves are needed. Owners in leagues that count holds will also find Watson a desirable arm.

The Guy to Avoid: Mac Williamson

Sometimes playing time is not reason enough to roster a player, even in the deepest of leagues. Last season, Mac Williamson was the talk of the town for about a week, as he crushed a handful of home runs. From fantasy podcasts to internet blogs, his name was thrown around as someone who might be worth taking a flier on. As the Giants roster sits today, Williamson is projected to receive the bulk of right field at-bats for the 2019 Giants. While a 15 to 20 home run season could certainly come of that playing time, at what cost are those homers worth it? We’re limited to a certain number of roster spots in all fantasy leagues. Whether you pay draft capital or pick Williamson up via the free agent pool, he’ll still take up a roster spot for some amount of time. Over 339 Major League plate appearances, Williamson has a swinging strike rate of 16.0% (28.0 K%), a 56.1% ground ball rate and a .222/.295/.386 triple slash. The Giants may need to give Williamson playing time, but your fantasy team’s roster spot is worth more than Williamson could ever provide. Avoid.

The Prospect to Watch: Chris Shaw

Shaw is far from a perfect prospect, but has enough skill to warrant some interest in various fantasy baseball leagues. Selected in the first round (31st overall) of the 2015 June Amateur Draft, Shaw has displayed a power stroke at the plate throughout the minor leagues. Since 2017, it appears Shaw has made an attempt to hit more fly balls, which will allow his powerful bat to deposit more balls into the seats. Shaw has also pulled the ball more than 40% of the time during this time frame. Unfortunately, that powerful swing has also come with its fair share of swing and miss, which could be exploited at the big league level. Still, at 25 years old, Shaw has a better chance of turning into a productive big league hitter over the long term as compared to the aforementioned Mac Williamson.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Our 2019 MLB Preview series will run from late-November throughout the offseason. We will cover each team in reverse order of the 2018 Major League Baseball Standings. Because of the number of teams and time required to produce these posts, we’re needing to start early; before all roster moves have been made. Because we strive to provide informative and useful fantasy baseball content, we will be updating these preview posts throughout the off-season as rosters continue to take their final shape.

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