While no World Series Champion has repeated since 2000, it’s pretty safe to say that the San Francisco Giants defense of their 2012 World Series win in 2013 was one of the worst in recent memory. With very few exceptions, the stars they relied on throughout 2012 just weren’t there in 2013 for them.
Perhaps surprisingly, the 2014 Giants will look pretty similar to the 2013 crew. How they mesh and play on the field remains to be seen, but what kind of fantasy value can we expect from them?
Projected 2014 Giants Offense
|1. Angel Pagan||CF||32||S||520||81||8||49||22||.283|
|2. Marco Scutaro||2B||38||R||505||63||3||44||4||.295|
|3. Brandon Belt||1B||26||L||540||79||19||84||5||.285|
|4. Buster Posey||C||27||R||510||73||21||83||1||.308|
|5. Hunter Pence||RF||31||R||620||88||25||93||12||.284|
|6. Pablo Sandoval||3B||27||S||500||54||17||78||1||.280|
|7. Mike Morse||LF||32||R||400||47||15||53||0||.265|
|8. Brandon Crawford||SS||27||L||515||51||7||47||1||.249|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Morse*
– Pagan: You will need Angel Pagan to be healthy, but he’s got some value in pretty much every category. You will need the rest of the Giants to cooperate for his runs, because Pagan isn’t going to drive himself in that often. But most leagues require five outfielders, and Pagan should be one of them.
– Belt: If the Giants do indeed bat Brandon Belt third (which they should), then he’ll finally be in a place to succeed, getting pitches he can drive. Don’t bank on too many long balls, as AT&T Park is just death for lefties. But even sans the prolific HR totals, he’s got good across the board value.
– Posey: Don’t reach above his ADP, but Buster Posey is the best fantasy catcher out there, at least from what we can project. If Mike Morse goes through injuries or struggles in left field, don’t be surprised to see Bruce Bochy give Belt some time in left, letting Posey fill in at first. If that happens enough, Posey’s value goes up.
– Pence: Probably won’t be a Top-10 fantasy player again in 2014, but Hunter Pence the best all-around fantasy player on the team. Oops, I spoiled something there.
– Sandoval: For such an erratic player, Pablo Sandoval is strangely predictable. Let him fall below his ADP but if he’s available a round or so after it, take him. As long as you realize that anything more than 130 games is a bonus, Panda is a fairly reliable guy with a high ceiling.
– Morse: More on Mike Morse in a bit. For now, I’ll say that I wouldn’t draft him, but wouldn’t let too much happen in the early going before snatching him.
Projected 2014 Giants Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Sergio Romo
– Cain: Not to sound like I’m making excuses, but the 2013 peripherals pretty much all suggest that his 4.00 ERA was a bit unlucky. Making things better, Matt Cain finished 2013 on a very positive note, posting a strong second half, even with an injury. No doubt that 2013 was a regression season from him, but Cain has been one of the best in the business for several years. Look for that to show again in 2014. Remember, Cain won’t even turn 30 until October.
– Bumgarner: This kid is an absolute machine. Unfortunately, his path to a Cy Young will be blocked by the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg for a while, but Madison Bumgarner is one of the game’s Top-10 pitchers, fantasy or otherwise. The fact that he pitches at AT&T Park only makes things better.
– Lincecum: At best, you draft Tim Lincecum and he shows similar improvement from 2013 that he showed in 2013 from 2012. It’s not 2008 or 2009 anymore, he’s not the best pitcher in the game, but he’s a lot better than he showed in 2012.
At worst, you take Timmy and pair him up with a guy like Andrew Cashner, who will maintain a low WHIP throwing strikes, but may lag in the strikeout department. Even at his worst, Timmy’s been at right around a strikeout an inning. Until that doesn’t happen, you have to at least consider him a fantasy pitcher.
– Hudson: Talking about pairing, I honestly think that you could do a lot worse than pairing Lincecum with Tim Hudson. I’m not normally crazy about pairing teammates, but these two work on paper in pretty much every other way.
Hudson has maintained a low WHIP over the last four years and while his ERA was a bit high last year, you’d have to figure that AT&T Park and the NL West in general will help that get down to a more respectable level.
– Romo: Certainly a Top-10 closer, even if his strikeout total fell a bit in 2013. Sergio Romo is a strike-throwing machine, and his slider can be absolutely impossible to hit at times, especially for right-handed hitters. A looming Heath Hembree would make me wait at least two rounds after his ADP to take Romo. But with his reliable ERA, WHIP, and K rate, he can still be valuable from a set-up position, if it comes to that.
- Fantasy Star: Hunter Pence
In the off-season, we were trying to figure out some guys that would be fun to profile. Being a Giants fan, Hunter Pence seemed like a natural guy for me to work on, so I profiled him. I wanted to figure out what happened in 2013, and do some research to see what, if any patterns I could find from such an unorthodox player.
Do you know what I found?
Hunter Pence’s 2013 season was almost identical to his 162 game average. That’s an appropriate comparison, as Pence played 162 games in 2013.
He looks so awkward at times, but he’s a reliable contributor in every category and has been throughout his career. You can probably expect some regression in steals, but he should at least crack 10, and the rest of the numbers above are pretty much right in range from the rest of his career.
To be clear, Buster Posey is the better baseball player, but that factors in his defensive value at a premium position. In fantasy, Pence’s across the board prowess and strange reliability gives him the edge.
- Fantasy Bust: Buster Posey, with a provision.
I’m crying a bit inside just putting Buster Posey in this group, but allow me to explain.
It seems a little counter-intuitive to say that someone is the best at his position and also label him a “bust” in the same post, but remember, I said that you shouldn’t reach above his ADP to get him.
Here’s the problem.
People will reach above his ADP to draft Posey. In turn, that’s going to make his ADP even higher, meaning the people who draft him in late drafts at his ADP will be reaching for him without knowing it.
Catcher is a premium position and because of it, it fights the label that it’s thin. At second base, you draft a guy like Robinson Cano high because he’s so much better than the next guy it’s not even funny. That’s just not the case at catcher, especially in regards to power. Yes, it will be hard to draft a catcher who combines Posey’s power and average but it’s not impossible to at least get close. Even if you can’t, draft a bomber and realize that his .240 average won’t hurt you as much because catchers don’t log as many at-bats as other positions.
Just be conservative when you draft Buster Posey. You’ll certainly get a good player, but don’t reach for him because of “position scarcity.” You’ll regret it if you do.
- Prospect Watch: Heath Hembree
In the brief look they got of him in 2013, the Giants saw that Heath Hembree can pitch at the Major League level. With Sergio Romo on board, the path isn’t clear to the closer spot and I don’t know what kind of MRI value Hembree would have if he’s called up into a middle relief role.
But, Sergio Romo could be a free agent in 2014. If the Giants fail to contend again, I could see them moving him to a contender, opening the role up for Hembree. Even discounting the possibility of an injury to Romo, the Giants may realize that as good as Romo was in 2013, his most dominant seasons came as the set-up man to Brian Wilson.
There are other prospects who could play at some point in 2014, but Hembree has a much better chance of making a big fantasy impact.
- Fantasy Sleeper: Mike Morse
If someone drafts Morse, tip your hat to him. If not, monitor him on the waiver wire. If you notice something like 3-4 homers in a week, jump on him. Ride the hot streak, because Morse is more than capable of being the most dangerous hitter in the league for a few weeks.
Once he begins to cool down, don’t wait around to drop him.
I’m not saying that Morse will repeat his 2011 season, but the possibility does exist that he can be a bit short-term contributor for your team.
- Final Thoughts
There are certainly teams that have better fantasy value, but the Giants have plenty of contributors. Overall, I think the bats will be frustrating for fantasy owners, but I don’t think the pitchers will disappoint again. Maybe the pitcher’s draft stock will fall with people remembering the upsetting 2013 season most recently.