Question #7: Will Brandon Belt stay healthy and productive?
Brandon Belt will never be able to be embraced by all Giants fans, but he still was the Giants best offensive player before his concussion last season. Many questions will return if Belt were to suffer a fifth concussion at any point this season. Until then, the expectations should be for another productive offensive season and another above average defensive season.
Question #8: Will Crawnik continue to thrive in 2018?
While both Crawford and Panik struggled at the plate at times last season, they showed a lot in the 2nd half of the season and in Spring Training to suggest that they will be able to start 2018 strong. Panik looks like a perfect fit at the top of the lineup and Crawford is still the best glove in the National League. The double play combo should be a pitcher’s best friend once again this season.
Question #9: Will Hunter Pence make it work in left field?
Pence had a terrible 2017 and his move to left field should minimize his defensive struggles from last season. He has also looked much stronger at the plate and moving him down in the order has seemed to help as well. Moving to left field should actually make for a much more productive season for the fan favorite. There is also the added bonus of stronger depth behind him in the outfield, with Gregor Blanco returning and Mac Williamson, Austin Slater and Chris Shaw in the minor leagues. If Pence does struggle, they will have competent options to replace him in the everyday lineup.
Another question with wait and see all over it. Blach showed enough last season, that there is optimism that he can do the job, especially early in the season. He seemed to run out of gas last season, so there should be some doubt whether he can handle a workload over 160 innings. Stratton was brilliant at times at the end of last season and has had a full off-season and Spring Training to prove that last season was no fluke. Fans should be more confident in Stratton than Blach at this point. Holland, who San Francisco fans remember from an awful Game 2 of the 2010 World Series where he walked like 1,000 Giants in a row while with the Texas Rangers, is now the veteran lefty who made the 2018 roster. From his strong Spring Training numbers to his flawless impersonations off the field, there is a lot to like with Holland.
However, that is still a lot to ask for three guys who were fighting for the end of the rotation at the start of camp. I would be cautiously optimistic.
Question #11: Will the bullpen last the season?
The bullpen had the potential to be the team’s strength. Melancon, Watson, and Sam Dyson all have closer experience and Will Smith is expected to return May 1st. Combine that with Hunter Strickland and Cory Gearrin, who each had strong 2017 seasons and this bullpen was going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Now, it is hard to be optimistic when Melancon may be injured again and suddenly the depth looks bleak. Injuries will derail the bullpen, so Giants fans will need to hope that Watson and Dyson can start the year off strong.
Question #12: When will see Steven Duggar?
Duggar was on the doorstep of the starting center field job. One reason he may not have made the Opening Day roster is simply the heavy amount of left handed starters the Giants will face early in the year. Had Duggar started in center field on Opening Day, his first major league at bat would have been against Clayton Kershaw. That seems a little extreme for a prospect who is known for his glove more than his bat.
I expect to see Duggar by May 1 and believe he will end up with the most center field starts this season for the Giants.