San Francisco Giants: Five Players Who Will Improve in 2017
By Taylor Wirth
The San Francisco Giants appear to be pretty well set for 2017. Here are some players that are expected to improve this year. As the Winter Meetings have come to an end, the plans Bobby Evans and company have for the team next year are beginning to take shape
The San Francisco Giants went out and signed Mark Melancon to a 4-year $62 million deal, which filled a huge need in the closer position. As we are likely saying goodbye to a handful of players, the roles those players are leaving behind are going to open the door to younger, more exciting talent this upcoming season. With the younger guys acquiring a bigger role on the team, there is bound to be improvement in the rotation, bullpen, on the field, and at the plate. Let’s take a look at five players who will improve in the upcoming 2017 season:
Mac Williamson made his season debut on April 15th against the Dodgers. Williamson has been an exciting, young prospect that both the team and the fans have been looking forward to watching play. This year, Williamson played a key role off the bench, as Angel Pagan occupied left field. Williamson saw lots of playing time this year during the months of June and July as Hunter Pence recovered from a two-month long injury.
In Pence’s absence, Williamson made a strong first impression in the every-day role. His defense in right-field was stellar, including multiple highlight-reel, run-saving catches. In addition to his defense, he had a decent year at the plate. Williamson, only having 112 at-bats this year hit .223 with 6 HR’s and 23 RBI’s. Williamson had 35 strikeouts in those 112 at-bats (31%), which isn’t good, but will improve upon that come spring training.
With Angel Pagan gone, and the team committing to Williamson and Jarrett Parker in LF. Williamson will get to prove what he can really do in an everyday role. The Giants farm system has been proven to dish out solid major league talent year in and year out, and a full season of Williamson could produce 20+ home runs from the LF position, which has been lacking in power the last few years.
When Giants fans found out Matt Duffy was traded, there were definitely some mixed reactions. As Matt Moore started his tenure with the Giants in the beginning of August, some fans were still not sure about whether the trade was worth what the team gave up. Matt Moore did not start off bad per say, but not great. As the season winded down, we were fortunate enough to see some outstanding starts from Moore in huge games, including his near no-hitter against the Dodgers. In what little time with the team he had in 2016, Matt Moore won over pretty much every Giants fan that was not already on board with the trade.
Moore brought an exciting, young, lefty arm to primarily right-handed Giants rotation. Moore also came up big in the postseason against the Cubs, throwing eight innings of two-run ball while striking out ten batters. Matt Moore has an exciting arm that pairs perfectly with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto a top the Giants rotation. A full season from Matt Moore will be very exciting, as I see him having a break-out year. Expect him to compete with Bumgarner and Cueto as one of the top pitchers on the staff.
Seeing Posey‘s name as a player “who will improve in 2017” may catch some of you off-guard. But believe it or not, Buster Posey was not quite Buster Posey in 2016. Dont get me wrong, he still had a good year at the plate, and an even better year behind the plate. In 2016, Posey batted .288 with 14 HR’s and 80 RBI’s, which is far from under-performing, even as a catcher.
We’ve been accustomed to seeing Posey bat .300 with 18-20 home runs and 85-90 RBI’s, but this year he had a career-low in home runs (14) and his second lowest batting average of his career (.288). As i mentioned earlier, these numbers are the farthest thing from bad, but I believe Posey can improve off these numbers in 2017.
It might be safe to say that Joe Panik had a bizarre year in 2016. The All-Star second baseman has played two full season in the big leagues, and has batted over .300 in both of those years. But Joe Panik in 2016 batted .239, as he had a very up and down year. Panik’s struggles, in part, were due to a couple of injuries he sustained throughout June and July. On June 18th against Tampa Bay, Panik was drilled in the head by none other than Matt Moore. Panik went on to play eight more games after that, before being put on the DL with a concussion, that had him on the shelf for about a month.
Joe Panik, when healthy can take this Giants offense to the next level. Other than the poor batting average, we saw an improvement in power, as he launched a career-high 10 HR’s. Even with the struggles in 2016, Panik also managed to lead all of Major League Baseball with the lowest strike-out rate of any batter in the game, coming in at roughly 9.4%. A healthy year from the Giants second baseman can mean big things, as he is one of the best offensive and defensive second baseman in the game.
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When the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year deal last winter, they were anticipating him hitting near .300, as he were to take on the roll of the lead off, every day center fielder. Span unfortunately did not meet expectations this year, as he only hit .266. Another thing that surprised fans was Span’s power. Span usually averages around five or so home runs a year, but this year hit eleven. A new year and a fresh start for Denard Span, could have the speedy center fielder hitting like his old self again.
The Giants have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season. When healthy, they have one of the most complete teams in all of baseball. Their lineup will produce solid batting averages throughout, and hopefully an increase in power as well. Other than the Blach/Cain battle for the 5th spot, the rotation is pretty much set and looks very solid 1-4. Defensively, the team will continue to do what it does best, as they consistently are one of the top defenses in the game.
Next: Giants intriguing Minor League signings
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