Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 Major League Baseball season is set to begin tomorrow night and most writers, bloggers and fans are throwing out their predictions for what will happen with divisions, wild card and eventual World Series Champions. Our very own Stuart Jones gave his prediction this morning, Dodgers Will Win The NL West.
I am here to share five of my most bold, and maybe not so bold, predictions for the 2014 San Francisco Giants. These five predictions rank from not so bold to most bold.
5. Pablo Sandoval will be healthy all season and have a career season entering free agency.
By now every Giants fan, or baseball fans in general, has surely heard about Sandoval’s high contract demand. Incase you have not heard about it yet, I wrote about it last weekend Sandoval’s High Contract Demands.
As I mentioned in the above post, Sandoval has averaged just 130 games the past 4 seasons due to various injuries.
During the 2009 season, his best season by far during his 6 year career, Sandoval hit 25 home runs with 90 RBI while posting a .330 average and slash line of .387/.556/.943.
I do not expect Sandoval to duplicate that average, on base, slugging and OPS but I am predicting him to set career highs in both home runs and RBI. This season Sandoval will finish the year with 29 home runs and 102 RBI while batting .288 with a slash line of .340/.493/.833 and if not re-signed by the Giants during the season, will end up with 5 year contract worth somewhere in the area of $75m for a AAV of $15m per year.
4. Ryan Vogelsong will be out of the rotation by July 1st.
With Vogelsong struggling last season and throughout Spring Training, many have wondered if he can still be an effective starter or if he bound for a swing man job in the bullpen. This is one prediction of the five that I hope I am wrong about, but I just don’t think I will be. After two successful seasons in 2011 and 2012, Vogelsong was possibly the Giants best starter during the 2012 post-season.
Vogelsong struggled during the 2013 season, and missed quite a bit of time being on the disabled list.
Following the 2013 season, the Giants declined Vogelsong’s $6.5m option making him a free agent. The team re-signed him in early December to a one-year $5m contract. During the spring, its looked like the Giants should have let Vogelsong go elsewhere.
If 2013 and Spring Training are any indication to what we see from Vogelsong to start the season, this prediction will dead on. If Vogelsong does in fact struggle and is removed from the rotation, I would expect his replacement to be #2 Prospect (according MLBPipeline.com) Edwin Escobar. Escobar spent last season split between San Jose (High A) and Richmond (AA) and will begin the upcoming season in Fresno (AAA).
I am very excited to see what Escobar can do in the big leagues.
3. Brandon Belt will break out this season.
If his last two months in 2013 are any indication of what we can expect from Belt this season, then I truly believe that we will see his most phenomenal season yet.
Overall Belt had a very good second half to the 2013 season.
Belt’s overall numbers for the 2013 were respectable.
My prediction for Belt this upcoming season: .272 batting average with 23 home runs, 84 RBI and a slash line of .365/.476/.841.
2. Tim Lincecum will have a rebound season with a minimum of 15 wins.
During this off-season, the Giants and the former two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed on a new two-year $35m contract. Many fans around baseball, more specifically Giants fans, wondered why the team would sign the former Cy Young Award winner to such a high contract after struggling the last three seasons.
I am not predicting a return to the 2008 and 2009 seasons though.
What I do predict from Linecum this season is a 16-10 win/loss record with a 4.09 ERA and 186 strikeouts. As I have mentioned many times, I truly believe that the addition of Tim Hudson to the rotation will benefit Lincecum.
1. Madison Bumgarner will win the 2014 C y Young Award.
Bumgarner is entering his 6th season, 5th full-time season in the big leagues. The 2013 season was a good one for Bumgarner, despite it not translating in a lot of wins for the 6’5 lefty.
Pitching wins is something that a starter has zero control over and should not be considered the end all for starters. Unfortunately when most voters look at numbers from the season, this is one of the first stats that they look at. Looking over some of Bumgarner’s stats and some that jumped out at me more than others were run support.
As you see above, over half of Bumgarner’s starts last season seen the offense score 0-2 runs in support of the lefty.
Bumgarner had a great spring training, having only given up 3 runs all spring (3 solo home runs in his last start).
With the Giants 2014 offense projected to be much improved over last seasons, I predict that Bumgarner ends up with 21 wins a 2.93 ERA, 213 strikeouts in 210 innings pitched and he will win the 2014 Cy Young Award.
What are some of your predictions for the Giants and their players? Do you agree with my 5 predictions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.