The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and it’s 2016, so does that mean Bruce Bochy and his team can be expected to at least be in the Fall Classic?
The Giants: Health Will Matter as SF Seeking Its 4th World Championship in 8 Seasons
The San Francisco Giants (84-78, 2nd in NL West) spent some money in the Offseason and re-tooled its Starting Pitching staff, signing Cincinnati Reds-Kansas City Royals ace Johnny Cueto (48-22, 2.91 ERA at Great American Ball Park) and Chicago White Sox-Oakland A’s starter Jeff Samardzija. So Giants Manager Bruce Bochy looks to have a nice Starting Pitching rotation with ace southpaw Madison Bumgarner (18-9, 2.93 ERA, 234 Ks), Cueto, Samardzija, Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. And if the Giants can avoid Injuries to Peavy and Cain and if newbies Cueto and Samardzija can thrive on this team—and they should—then San Francisco could win 100 games and another World championship. RHP Cueto has a sparkling 1.69 ERA lifetime at AT&T Park and Giants management feels the Bay Area and its loving baseball fans along with working with Catcher extraordinaire Buster Posey will be beneficial for the 29-year-old native of the Dominican Republic who will turn 30 on Monday (Feb. 15). And RHP Samardzija—once a Relief Pitcher for the Chicago Cubs—is the perfect fit for this Giants team as the 6-5, 225-pound Merrillville, Indiana native has the long, shaggy mane like SS Brandon Crawford and RF Hunter Pence and the 31-year-old was also once a WR for Notre Dame. And if Peavy, Cain or another Starter should get injured, maybe lucky charm and long-time Giants RHP Tim Lincecum is only a freaky phone call away, right (Giants General Manager) Bobby Evans? San Francisco will need the Starting Pitching to be more reliable this season after finishing 7th in the NL with a 3.95 ERA playing at a ballpark theoretically built for Pitchers and if Cain or Peavy succumb to injuries, then youngsters Clayton Blackburn, Tyler Beede and Dominican Adalberto Mejia are all waiting in the wings for their shot (although I’d call known commodity Timmy first).
The Infield is as tough as it gets in MLB in many ways with Brandon Belt (.280, 18 HR, 68 RBI) at 1B, Joe Panik (.312, 8 HR, 37 RBI) at 2B, Brandon Crawford (.256, 21 HR, 84 RBI) at SS and Matt Duffy (.295, 12 HR, 12 SBs) at 3B and the OF should benefit from having a healthy Hunter Pence (.275, 9 HR, 40 RBI) back in RF. Ángel Pagán and Gregor Blanco should fight for the starting LF job while new acquisition Denard Span will likely start in CF and bat leadoff. The 31-year-old Span could end up being a big sigh of relief or a problem for Los Gigantes as nobody has to cover more ground than the ”coach” of the OF—the Center Fielder—and as a Leadoff Batter, former Washington Nationals and left-handed hitting and throwing OF Span (.301, 5 HR, 22 RB) may get the most Plate appearances of all Giants Players meaning easy outs are no good with Panik-Duffy-Posey-Pence-Belt-Crawford hitting behind you. If Span blows it (or gets hurt), Bochy will simply move Pagán to his natural CF and have Blanco or Justin Maxwell in LF. Honestly, even with the acquisition of Span, San Francisco seems a little thin Depth-wise in the OF, as well as the INF to a degree, although promising young OF Jarrett Parker (.400 BA, 6 HR, 14 RBI in 40 AB) may be called up to the Bigs for good at some point.
Heart. The Fans. The splendid AT&T Park itself. The Culture of Baseball in the Bay Area. Expectations. It’s an Even-Numbered year, (2016) bruh. Manager Bruce Bochy. Getting Cueto—he had the 2nd lowest ERA in the NL since the beginning of the 2011 season—Samardzija and Span. Having Bumgarner, Posey, the eccentric Pence, Belt, Crawford and some of the best MLB fans and support in MLB (This is often lost on many MLB fans as much of the US Sports Media is so East Coast-centric and West Coast games usually start 3 hours later when many in the ET and MT Time Zones are often going to sleep.); Playing in the NL West and getting to face the San Diego Padres (100/1 to win World Series, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) and Colorado Rockies (200/1 to win World Series, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) so many times.
Infield and Outfield Depth; Age; Everyone gunning for you knowing it’s an Even-numbered year; Could use a Power Hitter (the Giants have no players in the MLB 2016 Regular Season Home Run Title prop Bet Future Book market at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook); Injury Concerns with Pence, Posey, Belt, Cain, Peavy and Span to name more than a few; the possibility the Arizona Diamondbacks will improve dramatically this season with the acquisition of Ps Zack Greinke (Dodgers) and Shelby Miller (Braves); Cueto could be a big bust and Span could be unproductive in the Leadoff spot.
Giants Quick Outlook
Opposing Pitchers won’t want to pitch to this San Francisco lineup and when it comes to Heart, no team in MLB has more than this Giants team and this is a team with a distinct loose personality and culture, molded around seemingly care-free, hippie-like players like Bumgarner, nce, Crawford and Lincecum when The Freak on the Roster. This team doesn’t care what you think of them, they just care about finding a way to win baseball games, one at a time. Brilliant. So, Samardzija is a perfect fit for the Hair and Heart Boys in The City By the Bay. Does your team have fans waiting patiently in a canoe in a cove named after a club legend (Willie McCovey) with a net paddling over your hallowed RF wall listening to the game on the radio? Thought not. The New York Mets may have the best Pitching Staff in the NL, but it seems the pennant in the Senior Circuit will be a battle between the NL Central division’s St. Louis Cardinals and the likely NL West Division champion Giants with Injuries being the big thing both teams will desperately need to try to avoid. The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are nice stories and are clubs on the uptick, but both teams fail to have the Culture and Expectations teams like the Giants, Cardinals and now World Series champion Kansas City Royals seem to. MLB is truly evolving.
Sports Betting Perspective
It’s only Feb. 11, Pitchers and Catchers haven’t even been called to Spring Training (Feb. 17) and it seems much of the Futures Book value has already been sucked out the Giants. Here in pretty and neon-lit Sin City over at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, San Francisco has already been “bet down” drastically in both the World Series and NL Pennant markets. Buster Posey and the Giants are now 10/1 to win the World Series after opening up at 20/1 (on Oct. 23) and at just 5/1 to win the National League this season after opening up at 10/1 in the Fall. So if you bet when the market first opened up when the 2015 MLB Playoffs were still going and before the World Series had even started (Oct. 27-Nov. 1), then kudos to you. The time to act was Then as Mr. Now seems a bit late to the MLB Futures party. And the lesson to be learned here for the small and large players alike is that these Futures Book markets have become so popular these last 10+ years that sportsbooks and oddsmakers are releasing the next season’s championship odds before the previous season’s champion has been crowned in the case of MLB and the NFL and bettors are betting into these markets immediately knowing others will be moving the line early on and that numbers like the Giants to win the World Series at 10/1 on the MLB odds board (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) are already stale to a large degree. Toss in the reality that many younger sports bettors are wagering off their SmartPhones and can place their MLB picks immediately in-state (Nevada) with Mobile Wagering making getting down on a Futures Bet in a matter of seconds by just hitting a couple of buttons on something in his or her pocket. My how times have changed. The players who physically drives to the casino and sportsbook are now way too late to get any decent prices on many of the Futures Book sides, and the sportsbooks reap the rewards knowing there is (usually) only one winner in a given sport and that most of the money they are getting will be theirs for the most part. So, any Giants Futures Book bets that look pretty and shiny right now in the Winter of 2016 must have looked glorious and brand spanking-new in the Fall of 2015 when released. A “50% Off Sale” on Futures Book bets isn’t the preferred route, but like in all sports, this becomes a simple process of elimination and there are probably only four or five MLB teams that have a legitimate chance of actually winning the Fall Classic and the hungry San Francisco Giants will definitely be one of them.
The Skinny: You can’t have a wonderful Manager like Bruce Bochy and a have a combination of gritty guys like Posey, Pence, Belt, Crawford, Panik, Duffy, Peavy and Bumgarner and not expect to at least make it to the NLCS, even with many other teams improved. And If The New Kids In Shaky Town Cueto, Samardzija and and Span can properly assimilate—and they should because players just love to play for a Manager like Bochy, a team as loose as the Giants, a great American city like San Francisco and on most importantly on a winner—and the San Francisco Bullpen with Closer Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Hunter Strickland and Javier López can come through, then everyone in the NL may be chasing the Giants this season.
San Francisco Giants Predicted Record: 95-67
MLB FUTURES BOOK PICKS: San Francisco Giants 7/1 to win NL Pennant & San Francisco Giants 16/1 to win World Series