SF Giants: Where They Stand In The West
By Sean O'Leary
Spring training is here. That means it’s every baseball writers favorite time of year; prediction season. All writers give their predictions for divisions, yearly awards and more. Most of the time, their wrong (including me). Nevertheless, it’s still fun to do.
What I’m giving you today isn’t a prediction, it’s more to tell you where the Giants stand in the division at the three main parts of the team. So, let’s begin:
The NL West made moves for pitching this offseason. And I means big moves. The Diamondbacks got Greinke and Miller, the Dodgers got Kazmir and Maeda and the Giants got Cueto and Samardzija. All three rotations are good, but you could argue only two got better.
The Dodgers lost Greinke and gained Kazmir, which is a huge step down. They signed Kenta Maeda out of Japan, for what seems to be a contract that favors them. He is an upgrade over the number three they had last year, too. The fact that they couldn’t re-sign Greinke is a huge loss, though. He finished second place in Cy Young voting last year, posting a 1.66 ERA, a 5.9 WAR and a 2.76 FIP. The season he has last year is practically irreplaceable, and they didn’t try very hard to replace it. Don’t get me wrong, Kazmir is a good pitcher, but he isn’t Greinke. Kazmir’s stats, in comparison, are a 3.10 ERA, a 2.4 WAR, and a 3.98 FIP. Obviously, Greinke probably won’t have the same year, but he is still better than Kazmir, and it is a bit of a downgrade. With the signing of Maeda out of Japan, it is a bit of a mystery, so what Maeda can bring is yet to be seen. They gained Alex Wood, who may stay in the rotation or move to the bullpen. And of course, they still have the best pitcher in the world, Clayton Kershaw. Sot it isn’t all bad.
The D-Backs had a good off-season, practically stealing Greinke away from the Giants and acquiring Shelby Miller in a trade. Greinke is a huge add, as I just explained above. He will instantly slot in as the ace, and is pitching in a slightly better ballpark. Miller will most likely be the number 2, but they gave up too much for him. He is a good pitcher, but struggled win-loss wise last year. He pitched to the tune of a 3.02 ERA, a 3.4 WAR, and a 4.07 FIP. In other words, he is a better addition than the one of Kazmir. They also have a good, young lefty in Patrick Corbin, who, by all accounts, will take a step forward, and might be a better three than Maeda. With that being said, that makes the Diamondbacks rotation better than the Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks may have had a good off-season, but the Giants had a great one. Yeah, a great off-season. They acquired Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Last year was the biggest struggle they’ve had pitching wise since they went on the World Series run. They had ace Madison Bumgarner, and after that, it was painful at times. Bobby Evans knew he had to fix something coming into the off-season, and boy did he ever. Johnny Cueto has been one of the best right handed pitchers in baseball since he came into the league. His career numbers are a 3.30 ERA, a 22.8 WAR, and a 3.82 FIP. He was also the ace of the Reds staff for most of his tenure there, and also had two of the great seasons by a right hander in recent memory in the 2012 and 2014 seasons. In 2014, he finished second in Cy Young voting, and was also an All-Star.
Samardzija on the other hand, isn’t the super ace that Cueto was/is. He has been on a number of bad teams in his career, so that hasn’t really helped his numbers, which is why many people think he is not very good. He has pitched to a 4.09 ERA, a 3.84 FIP, and a 12.4 WAR. He pitched for a number of bad Cubs teams for the early part of his career and was a top of the rotation guy for them. However, he struggled pitching in that ballpark for that team. He was traded to the A’s half way through the 2014 season, and he pitched well. He finished that season with a 2.99 ERA, a 3.20 FIP, and a 4.1 WAR. This showed his full potential and what he could be if put in a good situation, and a good pitching coach. He has the stuff to be a number 2 type pitcher.
Last year was hard fought for both pitchers. With that being said, they both had good, “excuses,” if you will. Cueto was said to have an elbow injury for most of the year, and even with that, he had a few good outings for the Royals in the postseason. For Samrdzija, he was pitching for a terrible team, with a terrible defense, for a pitching coach he didn’t get along with. He also said that he was tipping pitches throughout the season. Pitching at AT&T, and for Dave Righetti, should help him immensely.
Verdict: It’s the Giants in a landslide. Although they have the worst ace out of the tree, they have the better all around rotation. They arguably have two aces in Bumgarner and Cueto, and they also have a good number 2 in Samardzija, who will pitch as their number three. They also have better depth, with Cain, Heston, and Peavy pitching behind them. All in all, it is going to be a fun rotation to watch.
Next: Starting Lineup