Three years removed from a World Series championship, the San Francisco Giants are going through their worst season in over 30 years. They sit with the third-worst record in baseball at 47-72 and are projected to finish with over 100 losses.
Last season, there was a major hole in the bullpen, as the Giants led the league with 30 blown saves while rotating through several closers. The issue was amplified when the Giants were eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual world-champion Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series, giving up four runs of the 9th inning of Game 4. However, they failed to dramatically improve their bullpen.
While they did sign closer Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal, they allowed long-term veterans Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla to leave in free agency. Melancon has been out most of the season due to injuries and has struggled in the time he has been healthy, posting only 11 saves and a 4.15 earned run average (ERA). This leaves an inexperienced bullpen, with Hunter Strickland the only pitcher who has pitched multiple seasons with the team. The bullpen currently has a 4.05 ERA — a stark contrast to the consistent team ERAs in the 3’s over the past few seasons.
In the offseason, left fielder Angel Pagan was not re-signed in free agency. Rather than trading for Detroit Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez, whom they were rumored to go after, the Giants opted to stick with a platoon in left field of Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez. Since then, they have used 13 different players in left field, while Martinez is hitting .287 with 23 home runs.
Additionally, many veterans have underperformed offensively. Right fielder Hunter Pence is hitting .251 with only 10 home runs and -0.6 wins above replacement, making 2017 the worst season in his 10-year career, while shortstop Brandon Crawford is only hitting .228 with a 0.6 WAR. Lastly, catcher Buster Posey was the only Giant who made the All-Star team. The last time the Giants had only one representative was in 2007, when they went 71-91. This has led to a ranking of 28th in runs scored, as well as sitting in last in the league in home runs, only hitting a combined 93.
However, the major issue has been the team’s pitching. They are currently 20th in team ERA, 29th in batting average against and 24th in runs against. Johnny Cueto, who was an All-Star in 2016, has underperformed this season with a 4.59 ERA. Jeff Samardzija, who signed a five-year, $90 million deal in 2016, has flopped with a 4.74 ERA and a 7-12 record. Last season, fan-favorite third baseman Matt Duffy was shipped along with two other prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Moore at the trade deadline. Moore has struggled this season with a 3-12 record, a 5.71 ERA and a WAR of -0.8.
Ultimately, it is the combination of a mediocre offseason, poor pitching and the plethora of underperforming stars that have doomed the Giants. In the preseason, the Giants were projected by many to make the playoffs and be a contender for the World Series. Unfortunately, very little has gone right, making it painful for the loyal fans whohave watched the team win three World Series championships this decade.
However, there is an upside to the disappointing season: the Giants will get a high pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and a chance to begin the rebuilding process for the future.
All statistics are updated through Aug. 13, the print deadline for the Aragon Outlook.