Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: San Francisco Giants
Projected Starting Lineup
C Buster Posey—Although some Fantasy owners will be enticed by Gary Sanchez’s power, I think that Posey is still the first catcher who should be taken in drafts. He should hit at or near .300 yet again and can always be counted on for about 15-20 HR and 80-90 RBIs. That said, I will never be the owner who takes Posey as early as he will go. It’s not that I don’t like him, it’s that although he is the best at his position, his stats are not what I consider to be third round stats. I would much rather take an OF or SP in the third round and get my first catcher around Round 10 or 11.
1B Brandon Belt—Doesn’t it seem like we have been waiting for Belt’s breakout for years now? Here’s a scoop it’s not going to happen! Belt is not just going to start staying healthy and hitting 30 HR this season. Belt should give me 15-20 HR and be a second/third tier first baseman—but I think he slots way better at my corner infield spot.
2B Joe Panik—If you get caught waiting at second base, don’t panic. Draft Joe Panik! Panik dealt with concussions problems last year after he got beaned in the head with a fastball. Assuming he is fully recovered both physically and mentally from the incident, Panik should be able to help Fantasy owners in batting average and possibly runs scored depending on where he hits in the lineup. Regardless, he is not going before Round 22 in most drafts which is a nice value.
SS Brandon Crawford—At the Team USA vs. Boston Red Sox game in spring training, when Crawford came to the plate the guy sitting in the row behind me said to his friend, “This guy does not look like a shortstop.” The truth is that he doesn’t. Crawford is sturdily built and looks way more like an OF than a wiry SS. I think Crawford peaked in 2015 when he hit over 20 HR. I am not sure he will hit for much average either (think around .250) although he could knock in about 80 RBIs if he continues to hit well with RISP. That said, he is not very high on my draft list this season.
3B Eduardo Nunez—I have to admit that I did not see Nunez’s 2016 coming at all. I knew I always liked him as a solid utility player, but 16 HR and 40 SB was a shocking total. Assuming Nunez regresses this year (think a 20%) reduction, we are still looking at about 10 HR and 28 SB which is highly draftable.
OF Hunter Pence—For years, Pence was the epitome of Fantasy consistency hitting for solid power. Recently, though, he has dealt with significant injury issues which have held him back the past two seasons. Pence makes for an interesting call on draft day. The “old” Pence was a rock solid 4th or 5th round pick. The “more recent” Pence has been an unmitigated disaster. I think that Pence will fall in drafts and he might be a very interesting selection in the mid to late rounds as a comeback is not out of the question.
OF Denard Span—There was a time when Span was a pretty decent Fantasy player. Now Span is barely above replacement level even though his power numbers spiked last year. It worries me when a supposed speed player hits for as many home runs as stolen bases.
OF Jarrett Parker—If the season were to start today, it looks like Parker would be the Giants starting left fielder. He has good power vs. RHP but has struggled in the past vs. LHP. The Giants would like him to hit well enough to win the everyday job, but if he gets off to a slow start, I could easily see Mac Williamson stealing some at bats. Parker will never hit for a high average, but 20 home runs are not out of the question if he gets 500 at bats this season.
Util Jae-Gyun Hwang—I am listing Hwang here not because I expect anyone to draft him, but because he is worth monitoring. The Giants signed him from the KBO (Korean Baseball League) where he mashed 27/113 last season. I have to think that Conor Gillaspie’s job is in jeopardy and Kwang might be Jung Ho Kang-light.
SP Madison Bumgarner—With Max Scherzer not at 100 percent, Mad Bum becomes the number two SP off the board in most Fantasy leagues. Bumgarner just continues to get better and better with no sign of wear and tear to his arm. He is the anchor to this rotation and a lock to win 15 games or more this season. He is a stud that you can use to anchor your Fantasy staff.
SP Johnny Cueto—If you can’t seem to draft or buy Bumgarner, then Johnny Cueto is not a bad consolation prize. I have been playing this game so long that I remember the days when Cueto was considered a bad second half pitcher. Now, for the past few seasons, he has dominated all season long, even throwing for over 200 innings the past three years. Cueto has won 18 or more games in two of the last three seasons, and there is no reason to think that he won’t win 16 or more in 2017.
SP Matt Moore—I want to love Matt Moore. He throws hard, and when he is at his best, he might be borderline unhittable. Then there are days when he needs a compass and a map to find home plate. It’s those days that make him supremely frustrating and hard to deal with in Fantasy. I think he slots in nicely as the Giants third starter and I like the fact that AL pitchers normally see their counting stats improve dramatically when they come over to the NL. I don’t have any shares of Moore yet in leagues, but I am not afraid to take the chance this season.
SP Jeff Samardzija—Although I cannot spell his name correctly every time, I can say it well enough at my draft table when I am looking for a solid SP4 or SP5 for my team. He has thrown for over 200 IP the last four seasons and so long as he can keep the homers allowed down, I expect another similar season of 3.50 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.
SP Matt Cain—I guarantee you that Cain will not be on any of my Fantasy teams this year and I can only hope that you feel the same way.
RP Hunter Strickland—At one time I thought that Strickland was a safe bet to be the Giants future closer, but with Melancon around, there is no doubt that Strickland is the team’s top setup man. Look for him to have good K/IP and vulture some wins.
Closer Mark Melancon—Instead of going with a committee at closer, the Giants made an off-season deal to get Melancon to be their stopper. It was a great signing, and I fully expect him to have north of 40 saves again this season.