The San Francisco Giants offense in 2013 ranked tenth in the National League in runs scored and 4th in batting average. Those two numbers are very solid. But, the two glaring stats with the Giants offense from last season is the home runs hit and runs scored. The Giants ranked 14th out of 15 National League teams and 29th in baseball with 107 home runs, and they also only scored 607 runs which was 21th in baseball.
The four players that factored into this were Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.
Pagan, by no fault of his own, was injured for most of the season. The Giants weren’t the same offense once he got injured. His injury meant that his speed was off the bases and there were less opportunities for the run producers to drive in runs. Also, what was key for the Giants when they won the 2010 and 2012 World Series championships was that their leadoff hitter always provided them with a spark. Without Pagan that spark wasn’t there.
Scutaro, who was so instrumental in the Giants postseason run in 2012 with clutch hit after clutch hit, was also banged up for a good portion of the season. He was dealing with ligament damage in his pinky finger and a sore back which limited his effectiveness. With the Giants having their two table setters in and out of the lineup and not producing at the level that they did in 2012 their offense suffered.
Two of the guys who were looked upon as key run producers for the Giants; Posey and Sandoval, didn’t have years that are up to their standards.
Posey’s year was more acceptable because of the long postseason run and all the energy he expended. He didn’t have enough recovery time and didn’t train like he needed to in order to keep his fitness throughout the season. Posey wore down with about 2 months left in the season, but never really seemed to be his normal self all year long. Throw in the fact that he won the NL MVP and was rewarded with a big contract, he might have taken his talent for granted and needed a little wake up call. It’s expected that he will return to the Posey of old this season.
Sandoval was another case. He was at least 40 pounds over weight last season, which contributed to his poor defense and lack of offensive production. He couldn’t move to his left on defense, so a lot of balls got by him and he couldn’t catch up to 90 mph fastballs. Sandoval’s weight was a big topic of discussion throughout the whole season.
However, there were still quite a few positives to take away from the 2013 season. Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence specifically were very impressive for most of the season.
Pence was the Giants ironman. He played every game for the Giants last season. He produced a 20/20 season ( homeruns and stolen bases). He hit around 290 and was the Giants best power hitter last season. He earned the new contract that he received from the Giants this past offseason (5 years 90 Million). Based on Pence’s track record he should only continue his production into the 2014 season.
Belt was another very good story. He changed his batting stance with about 2 months to go in the season and that resulted in him hitting for more power, being able to turn on the inside pitches better, and developing confidence as a hitter that he never showed before for a consistent period of time. He should only improve as he continues to evolve as a hitter.
Moving ahead to 2014. The Giants have pretty much the same lineup intact as last season. The only exception is Michael Morse, who the Giants signed as a free agent this offseason. The Giants are looking for some of the previously mentioned players to bounce back, players to stay healthy and players continuing to develop.
The most intriguing storyline early in camp for the Giants, is how thin Sandoval is. He was challenged by Matt Cain and Pence to get in shape this offseason and he responded. The Giants are hoping that this weight loss, and being in shape for really the first time in his professional career will result in him having a monster season similar to the season that he had in 2009 where he hit 330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI’s as a 23 year old. If Sandoval can have a similar season to that, which he’s capable of, then the Giants will be a much better offense than they were last year.
The Giants are counting on Posey bouncing back to his normal production, Pagan and Scutaro staying healthy, and Pence continuing to produce and building off his solid campaign last year. Finally, the Giants believe Belt will continue to improve and develop into the kind of player that they believe he will be.
The wildcard is Morse. When healthy he’s a terror. He has the most raw power of anybody on the Giants and if healthy and able to play at least 130 games he should be able to belt at least 25 home runs because he has that kind of power. He hit 30 home runs for the Washington Nationals a couple of seasons ago, so that shows his raw power and his imposing presence in the batters box.
If everything goes well, the Giants lineup will be very solid 1-8 with no easy outs in their lineup. They should continue to be a pretty high average team as they have 3-5 guys capable of hitting 280 or better with Scutaro, Posey, Sandoval, Belt and Pence. Probably the most important is improved run production as they will have the ability to hit the long ball more consistently this year. Everybody batting 3-7 are capable of hitting 20 home runs. That’s something the Giants haven’t been able to say in awhile.
Obviously for the Giants to be successful they need to stay healthy, and have everybody produce the way they are capable.