It is no question the San Francisco Giants have gotten off to a horrendous start thus far in 2017. Nearing the end of April with a record of 8-15 and sitting in last place, the one question is what will it take to turn this season around?
Heading into the 2017 season, the San Francisco Giants were projected to be a serious contender in the NL West, competing with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division title in a two team race. Although neither team has played particularly well and it is still early in the season, the Giants play has been quite concerning.
Pitching and defense has been the mantra for the San Francisco Giants in recent memory, building their roster among a solid staff with players like Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Moore. Matt Cain has even pitched like the Matt Cain of old so far in 2017, which has been joyous to watch as a Giants fan. However, the staff as a whole has had their fair share of struggles so far in the early going.
The starting rotation currently ranks 26th in the MLB with an ERA of 4.54. However, the rotation has been pretty solid as of late. In the four game series against the Dodgers, the starters combined to throw 24 innings and only gave up six runs, a far cry from the 4.54 ERA overall. The big blow to the staff is the fact that the team will be without their ace Madison Bumgarner until around the all-star break with a grade two shoulder sprain.
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However, the starting rotation is not the main concern of the team, nor do I envision it will be going forward in the absence of Bumgarner. I also do not envision the bullpen being a major issue for the team going forward. The bullpen currently ranks 14th in the MLB in terms of ERA at 3.80–not great, but not alarming either. The main concern for the Giants, which is pretty obvious, is the offense.
Clutch hits and runs have been hard to come by for the Giants in 2017. The Giants currently rank second-to-last in the MLB in runs scored with 77, only trailing the Royals, who have only scored 58 and have a record of 7-15. They also rank 25th in team batting average, hitting only .232, and rank 29th in home runs with only 15.
Watching this team hit has been disappointing to say the least, especially with players like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey–all of whom have been all-stars and World Series champions. One would think with a lineup like that, the Giants would be poised for success, but that has not been the case. Here are some numbers for the Giants star players so far in 2017.
Belt leads the team in home runs with four, but only has nine RBI and a batting average of .238. However, he has been one of the more consistent players at getting on base with an OBP of .365. Crawford is the only other position player with multiple home runs with two and has eight RBI, and an OBP of only .284.
Pence’s power has been non existent as well. He is the only player on the team with double digit RBI–he has 10 on the year so far. Posey has been seemingly hitting the ball everywhere since coming back from the concussion DL, raising his batting average to .357 and OBP to .446. The only problem with Posey is he only has one home run and three RBI, which is unacceptable out of a middle of the order hitter.
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I am not trying to cut any of these player and their abilities down, but they need to find a why to deliver in critical situations. Yes, the team has some glaring needs with an ailing/aging outfield, reluctant to sign any big name hitters, but the Giants will have to work with what they have for the time being. The only offensive production lately has come from prospect Christian Arroyo, who has matched Posey with one home run and three RBI in only four career games, and Michael Morse, who was out of baseball last year.
Again, I am not trying to bash the Giants hitters, nor do I want to send the message that I think this team is doomed, because I don’t. This team is in need of some kind of spark to ignite a fire that will carry over for multiple games. I thought that could have been the case after Arroyo’s two run bomb, and Morse’s reminiscent game tying 8th inning home run in Wednesday night’s win against the Dodgers, but then the Giants proceeded to only score one run the following day.
Now the Giants open up a three game series against the San Diego Padres, an ideal team to break out of a slump against. The Padres are a young, inexperienced team and the Giants desperately need to take advantage of this. Having lost two out of three games in their previous series against the Padres, now is the time to turn things around.
The Giants have already switched things up in the lineup to open up this series, which is much needed. I have seen on the internet frequently that the Giants should bat Panik leadoff, which I absolutely agree with. I have felt the same way about this scenario as many of you for quite some time, and finally the Giants put him at the top of the lineup for tonight’s game. Panik is an ideal leadoff hitter with his ability to get on base and his reliability when it comes to making contact. Having him at the top of the order followed by Belt should be a solid recipe to manufacture some runs for the middle of the order.
If the Giants can at least win this upcoming series against the Padres, it will be a much needed morale boost. Splitting the series against the Dodgers was a step in the right direction, but does not amount to the feeling of winning a series. A sweep against the Padres would be ideal to say the least, but I will take any series victory I can get from the Giants.
Baseball is a long season; championships are not won or lost in April, but the earlier the Giants break away from their struggles, the better outlook for the remainder of the season will be. No, the season will not be over if the Giants lose two out of three to the Padres, but it will further the concern that has surrounded this team thus far.