San Francisco Giants Spring Training Preview: Infielders
It is a no-brainer that these four infielders will be the starters. Third base is interesting because there is a chance that a non-roster invitee can win the starting job. However, this is unlikely because of the inexperience of the invitees and the preference of the Giants to put their trust in a veteran. These here will be the starting infielders for this upcoming season:
The Giants see Belt as their first baseman for years to come. They made that clear last April when they signed him to a six-year $79 million contract extension locking him up until the year 2021. Belt showed he was deserving when he was selected to his first career All-Star Game and put up career numbers in just about every offensive category last year. Posting .275/.394/.868 with 17 HR and 82 RBI’s his most improved and impressive stat would be his walks in 2016. His 104 walks were fourth in the National League last year and just about doubled from his 56 walks in 2015. Belt has hot streaks and cold streaks at the plate, but as he continues to improve it is only a matter of time before he reaches 20-plus homeruns.
Ever since Panik was first promoted in 2014 he has produced. From winning a World Series as a rookie, to making an All-Star game in 2015 to winning a Gold Glove in 2016. Joe Panik seems like the second baseman of the future. Injuries have slowed him down these last couple of years but, that hasn’t stopped other teams from trying to aquire him through a trade. This shows that the Giants have a respected young player other teams wish they had. If Panik can stay healthy you can expect him to be in the running for the All-Star Game and Gold Glove yet again.
Now the owner of 2 Gold Gloves, Crawford is the center piece for what has become the best defensive team in baseball. In 2016 he was 12th in the MVP voting beating out fellow teammates Posey (14th) and Bumgarner (16th) respectively. The Giants know how valuable a player Crawford is when as a team they voted him as a co-recipient with Javier Lopez for last year’s Willie Mac Award. His Home runs might have dipped but he hit career numbers in many other offensive categories for 2016. Crawford isn’t going anywhere as he is locked up until the end of the 2021 season.
He will start the year as the starting third baseman but will end the year as a backup utility player. Currently the plan is have Nunez be the starter until their #2 prospect Christian Arroyo is ready to take over. With Nunez being more comfortable playing shortstop (his primary position), and able to play multiple positions the Giants would value Nunez more as a utility player. Until that day comes though, you can expect to see Eduardo Nunez at the hot corner.