Tag Archives: GIANTS

THE GIANTS YEAR, AGAIN?

From 2009 until 2015, the San Francisco Giants have won the World Series in each of the three even numbered years, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Most serious baseball fans might be aware of that fact, it has been written about so many times. Not as much attention has been paid to the fact that, in the odd numbered years in that period, not only have they failed to win the World Series, they have failed to even make the playoffs.

That’s right, this team that has won three World’s Championships in the seven year period, only matched in this century by the three the Boston Red Sox have won, has been an also ran in the other four years. In that seven year period, the Giants have won 274 and lost 212 during their Championship Years, a .564 percentage while, during their also ran years, they have won 334 and lost 314, a .515 percentage.

It isn’t as if the Giants fell apart in the years they didn’t win the Championship. They finished in third place in 2009, with an 88-74 record. In 2011, they finished at 86-76, eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2013, they finished a dismal fourth, with their worst, and only losing record of the period, 76-86, 16 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last year, they finished in second, 8 games behind the Dodgers, with a record of 84-78.

Well, here we are in an even numbered year again. Can the Giants rebound again and win their fourth World Series in eight years after failing to make the Playoffs in the other four of those eight years?

Despite losing key players for long stretches in 2015, the Giants finished with a respectable 84-78 record. Second year second baseman Joe Panik, played in only 100 games after a lower back inflammation sidelined him and right fielder Hunter Pence played in just 52 games.

Aging veteran, 40 year old Tim Hudson made 29 starts and posted a 4.44 ERA with an 8-9 record and 38 year old Ryan Vogelsang was 9-11, with a 4.67 ERA in 22 starts. The Giants added right handed starter Johnny Cueto, who was 11-13 last year between Cincinnati and Kansas City, but who was 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 2014 finishing as runner up for the Cy Young Award. They also picked up Jeff Samardzija, who was 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA with the lowly White Sox last year.

These two starters, will be added to their Ace Madison Bumgarner, who was 18-9 last year, with a 2.93 ERA, Jake Peavy, 8-6 and a 3.58 ERA in 19 starts, after missing much of the first half with back and hip problems, and Matt Cain, coming back from two bad years and working on a new release and expected to be the fifth starter. Chris Heston, who, as a rookie, was 12-11 with a 3.95 ERA in 31 starts can help with the starting and can relieve as needed.

Buster Posey will be back behind the plate. Probably the best all around catcher in the game today, Posey played in 150 games last year, some at first, but most behind the plate, and hit .318 with 19 homers and 95 RBI’s. Slugging Brandon Belt, who hit .280 with 18 homers and 68 RBI’s will be back at first and Joe Panik, who hit .312 in just 100 games should be healed and ready to go at second. Brandon Crawford, who won the Gold Glove at shortstop and hit .256 with 21 homers and 84 RBI’s will join third baseman Matt Duffy coming off a rookie season in which he hit .295, and drove in 77 runs.

Posey, Belt and Duffy were all finalists for the Gold Glove Award at their positions and, with Gold Glove winner Crawford at short and slick fielding Panik back at full strength at second, this could be one of the best defensive infields in baseball.

The addition this past week of 32 year old Denard Span who will probably take over on center field strengthens them even more up the middle. Span, who only played 61 games last year and is a career .287 hitter, had a surgery for a torn labrum in his left hip in September and is expected to be ready to go by spring training. Angel Pagan, who played center last year and hit .262, will probably compete with Gregor Blanco for the left field spot. Blanco hit .291 in 115 games last year. Hunter Pence, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, will be back in right after recovering from a strained left oblique which limited him to 52 games last year.

The bullpen has Closer Santiago Casilla, who saved 38 of 44 tries last year with a 2.79 ERA with workhorses Sergio Romo, 70 games 2.98 ERA, Javier Lopez 77 games, 1.60 ERA, George Kontos, 73 games, 2.33 ERA and Hunter Strickland, 53 games, 2.45 ERA, and is more than adequate.

As of this writing, veteran Giant starter and sometimes reliever, Tim Lincecum, who was 7-4 last year, with an ERA of 4.13, has not signed a Free Agent contract with anyone. He could add depth to the bullpen and as a spot starter should the Giants decide to bring him back.

Manager Bruce Bochy says that this team could be the best defensive team he has ever had in 21 years as a Manager. They have the potential to put a lot of runs on the board as well. Can the Giants do the improbable and go from also ran to winner for the fourth time in eight years?

At this point, I would not advise betting against them but don’t forget that team on the north side of Chicago. Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and their young Cubs may have something to say about that.

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THE SAY HEY KID

In 1958, the New York Giants left New York and their fans behind and became the San Francisco Giants. They had played in the Polo Grounds in New York City since June 28, 1911. The Giants, who now play in A T & T Park, located on Willie Mays Plaza, have won the World Series three of the last five years, the first times since 1954 when they won it while still playing at the Polo Grounds.

Larry Baer, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Giants, brought the World Series Trophy to New York City on January 24, to, as Chris Haft said on MLB.com, ‘share the glory of the 2014 World Series triumph with fans in the franchise’s original home.’ Along with the trophy, Baer brought one of the greatest players of all time, Willie Mays, and one of the Giants newest stars, 24 year old second baseman Joe Panik.

The trio attended a dinner put on by the New York Giants Preservation Society and the New York Giants Baseball Nostalgia Society where the trophy and, more importantly, Willie Mays, was put on display.

Mays, the Say Hey Kid, was from all reports the centerpiece of the evening. For members of these two groups of people, who have kept the Giants alive in New York after being deserted by them over 66 years ago, The Giants will always be the New York Giants and Willie Mays will always be the greatest player of all time.

Why wouldn’t he be? After making his debut in 1951, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and leading the Giants to the pennant in the dramatic playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers won by Bobby Thompson’s ‘shot heard round the world’ only to lose to the Yankees in the World Series, he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War and missed most of 1952 and all of 1953.

Returning to the Giants in 1954, all he did was hit .345 with 41 homers and 110 RBI’s while the Giants were winning the National League pennant and beating the Cleveland Indians in the Series 4-0. In that series he made what has been called one of the greatest catches of all time when he ran down a long shot off the bat of Vic Wertz deep in the Polo Grounds 455 foot center field and made an over the head basket catch to save two runs and the game.

Also, in 1954, he won the batting title, was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player and Major League Player of the Year. He was named to the All Star team every year from 1954 to 1973 and was MVP in the All Star Game in 1963 and 1968. He won the NL MVP Award again in 1965. He led the National League in homers in 1955 with 51, 1962 with 49, 1964 with 47 and 1965 with 52.

In addition to his hitting, he led the league in stolen bases from 1956-1959 with 40, 38, 31 and 27 thefts. From 1957-1968, he won the Gold Glove as the best fielding center fielder.

In his career, he hit 660 home runs and had a total of 3,283 base hits. His first home run, on May 29, 1951, came after he had gone hitless in his first 12 major league at bats and was hit off the great Warren Spahn, the Boston Braves Hall of Fame lefty.

He moved with the Giants to San Francisco in 1958 and was with them until 1972 when he was traded back to New York where he was with the Mets his last year and a half in the majors.

Willie was born in Westfield, Alabama, on May 6, 1931, and made his debut at the age of 20 years and 19 days. He was elected by an almost unanimous vote to the Hall of Fame in 1979.

The visit to New York included a stop at Finnerty’s Sports Bar where this year’s World Series trophy was put on display. The Giants have brought the trophy there each of the three years they have won it in the last five years. The stop was part of a tour around the country which will end at Scottsdale Park in Arizona, where the Giants play their Spring Training games, on March 27.

They also visited Public School 46, in New York, which is at the site of the old Polo Grounds. The Polo Grounds, which has been torn down, and which cost $300,000. to build, was opened in 1911. The Giants, Yankees, Mets and football Giants and Jets all played there at one time or another.

Joe Panik, the Giants sensational rookie second baseman, who started last year in the AAA Pacific Coast League and who is from Yonkers, NY, accompanied Mays and Baer on the New York visit. Panik, after being brought up from AAA ,hit .305 in 73 games and was a major part of the 2014 Giants World Series win.

Those loyal fans who have kept the spirit of the New York Giants alive in New York were rewarded with the opportunity to see their hero and the World Series trophy and Joe Panik, who was a Minor Leaguer a year ago, has to have had one of the greatest experiences of his young life, accompanying the legend that is Willie Mays to the place where he began his major league career.

CAN GIANTS REPEAT???

Over the last five years, the San Francisco Giants have won three World Series Championships, winning 12 games while losing just four of the Series games that they have played in. In the years that they have won the Series, they have had a regular season cumulative record of 274-212, a .564 won/loss percentage.

Three out of the last six years, from 2009 through 2014, the Giants have not even made the playoffs as a Wild Card. In those years, 2009, 2011 and 2013, the Giants have finished, in their division, in second place once, in third place once and in fourth place once. Over those three years, they have won just 250 games while losing 236, a .514 won loss percentage.

Many strange things happen in baseball, for example, the Red Sox went from worst in 2012 to first when they won it all in 2013. The Giants, on the other hand, have alternated for six years between World’s Champions and also-rans.

In the even numbered years since 2009 they have won the championship and finished out of the money in the odd numbered years. With that in mind, you would expect that 2015 would be a bad year for the Giants. The 2015 edition of the Giants does not look like a team that is going to fade into mediocrity, however.

The starting rotation has 25 year old Madison Bumgarner, winner of the MVP in both last years League Championship Series and the World Series, at the top. He finished the regular season at 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA and looked like the best pitcher in baseball in the postseason, winning 4 and losing 1 with a 1.03 ERA and pitching 21 innings, winning two games with a .043 ERA in the Series. After pitching a complete game shutout in Game 5, he came back and pitched five shutout innings to close out game 7.

The number two starter, 30 year old, Matt Cain, coming back after elbow surgery was just 2-7 in 15 starts last year but should be back to full strength this year. He posted a 16-5 record with a 2.79 ERA in 2012. Tim Hudson, 39, who was 9-13 with a 3.57 ERA last year and Jake Peavy, who went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA after coming over from the Red Sox should be three and four.

Tim Lincecum, 31, the Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and 2009, who had a comeback year last year winning 12 and losing 9 should round out the starting rotation. Yusmeiro Petit, who was 5-5 in 12 starts is available as well. Ryan Vogelsong, who became a Free Agent after an 8-13 year in 32 starts last year may also be coming back to the Giants according to a rumor early this week.

There are five relievers who had 50 or more appearances last year returning, including Santiago Casilla, who inherited the Closer role from Sergio Romo last year, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi and Romo. Hunter Strickland and George Kontos will also contribute there.

Buster Posey, age 27, one of the best catchers in the game, who hit .311 with 22 homers and 89 RBI’s last year, while playing 147 games between catch and first base, will be back behind the plate. The outfield should have Gregor Blanco, .260 in 146 games, in left, Angel Pagan, .300 in 96 games, in center and Hunter Pence, who hit .277 with 20 homers and 74 RBI’s, in right. Pence had a spectacular World Series, hitting .444 with 12 hits in 27 at bats while scoring 7 runs and driving in 5.

Pablo Sandoval, lost through Free Agency at third, will be replaced by Casey McGehee, acquired from Miami where he hit .287 with 76 RBI’s last year. Brandon Crawford, who hit .246 while playing 153 games at short last year will be back there. Joe Panik, who had a great rookie year at second base, hitting .305 in 73 games after being brought up, looks to have that job sewn up as 39 year old Marco Scutaro had back surgery in December.

Brandon Belt got off to a great start last year only to lose two months to a broken thumb. He then suffered a concussion two weeks after returning to the lineup, played only 61 games but appears to be heading to Spring Training in good health and will be back at first. In 2013, he hit .289 with 17 homers and 67 RBI’s. I saw him in Chase Field in Arizona in the opening series last year and he was 5-9 with two homers and four RBI’s in the first two games and appeared to be headed to a great season until he got hurt.

Overall, the Giants look like they will be able to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers who won the Western Division last year when the Giants got in the Playoffs as the Wild Card. The San Diego Padres have made some major acquisitions this winter but still don’t appear to have the ability to beat out either the Dodgers or the Giants. Like the Blue Jays of 2013, the Padres may have added some good players to a weak team and got just that, a weak team with a some good players.

If the Giants can keep Bumgarner healthy, this could be the year that they beat their odd numbered year jinx and make it four World Series wins in six years. Now, that would definitely qualify as the start of a dynasty.