The expected lineup is this:
- Denard Span
- Joe Panik
- Matt Duffy
- Buster Posey
- Brandon Belt
- Hunter Pence
- Brandon Crawford
- Angel Pagan
The pitching staff has this starting rotation:
- Madison Bumgarner
- Johnny Cueto
- Jeff Samardzija
- Jake Peavy
- Matt Cain
With a bullpen consisting of:
- Santiago Casilla, closer
- Sergio Romo, main setup reliever
- Javier Lopez, main Loogy
- George Kontos, middle relief (but I expect Bochy to use everyone in set up situations eventually)
- Hunter Strickland (closer in training)
- Josh Osich (replacement for Affeldt at some point; perhaps co-closer?)
- Chris Heston, long relief (Giants might still upgrade here, kept on talking about relief upgrade)
Lineup and Pitching Analysis
Using the expected lineup and Steamer OBP and SLG projections in the lineup analyzer, I got a 4.15 lineup, with each adjusted downward by the difference between 2015 Giants starters and overall batting line. That would be a slightly above average lineup (4.11 RS by average NL team in 2015), and that is with what I feel to be low projections for Pence, Crawford, Pagan. And really, low across the board, as I find Steamer to be the low projection for most Giants hitters over the years. For example, I don't think a .691 OPS projection for Crawford to be accurate, he has easily beaten that in the past two seasons, I'm not sure how the methodology works, but it always seem to have a strong depressive effect on the Giants hitters.
Adding up all the projections for the pitchers above, I get a 3.30 ERA. The flip side of low projections for hitters is usually that pitchers get pretty good projections, generally, though frankly the numbers I see all look reasonable for each pitcher, just at a glance, only Samardzija looks low per his career history. But the counter balance there is that I think Cain can outperform projections because the projections only accounts for what he did in the majors while injured the past three seasons, not how good he can perform when healthy. Then I added in all the pitchers that Steamer projects the Giants to use in 2016, including Blackburn, Stratton, Mejia, Black, and others, and that pushes us up to 3.35 ERA. I add 0.15 to account for the difference between RA and ERA for the Giants in 2015, reflecting the runs that occurred because of errors (per the rules of the game).
With a 4.15 RS and 3.50 RA, I get a 93 Win season based on the projected stats by Steamer. That is 4 wins beyond the 89 Wins per Pythagorean and 9 wins beyond the 84 actual Wins. 93 Wins over the past 10 years would have won the NL West Division Title 7 times, and would have gotten us into the Wildcard in the other three times.
This is roughly what I've been expecting out of this current team, with the off-season we have been having, picking up Cueto, Samardzija and Span. Like last season, I expect good things to happen. Last season, on top of the injuries that could be expected (Pagan, Peavy, Cain), there were problems with a lot of other players (Pence, Belt, Aoki, Panik, McGehee, Hudson, Machi, Affeldt) that was ameliorated by some (Blanco, Duffy, Tomlinson, Parker, Heston, Strickland, Osich), resulting in the Giants being competitive until late August.
The dominoes will again fall in the 2016 season, in ways we cannot predict. But the Giants in recent years have been able to stock their team with interchangeable pieces that can step in when one falls, and keep the team going in the right direction, and when mostly healthy, kick some serious butt. What I like to call Risk Mitigation.
Again there are substantial replacement parts. Can't replace all that Posey can do, but Susac is a very capable replacement, a possible starter for other teams. Posey can move to 1B if Belt should go down for any reason. Tomlinson and Adrianza would be capable replacements for 2B, 3B, and SS. Blanco has saved the Giants roster basically every season he's been around with us. And now there is Williamson and Parker, plus I like what Blanks could do, he could be the 5th OF. Should Span not start in CF, should Pagan go down, Span should be good in CF, and a significant improvement over Pagan in CF, even if Pagan is as healthy as he hopes to be in 2016.
The pitching is even more stocked. After the starters, there is Heston as a very capable stand-in, much as he was in 2015. He tired out late in the season, like he did in 2014, else he might have gotten significant Rookie of the Year votes, as he had an ERA in the low 3's mid-season, pretty good for anybody. Blackburn had a sub-3 ERA in AAA while being much younger than the league. He probably would be starting on the MLB roster, or at least competing for a spot, if he wasn't with the Giants. I wonder if the Giants might let him compete for the long relief spot against Heston. Then there is Blach, Stratton, Mejia, and Beede, all who might be ready by mid-season.
The bullpen is similarly stocked. We already have a good bullpen, but we got Minor leaguers who could step in and do well: Broadway, Guerrin, Hall, Okert, Law, Black. Then there is Crick and Agosta, and really, they could go with one of the above starters and use him in relief as well.
This makes the off-season make a lot of sense: no use trading off the depth when you could go and buy improvements instead. The Giants are going All-In, by picking up two starting pitchers who could be aces, one likely to be so, the other possibly so, then picking up a replacement CF/leadoff-man, because Pagan has been killing our offense every year by killing himself on the field. This allows the team to keep all our prospects as strong depth in case we have another year of too many unexpected injuries.
I'm going to go through the other projections and see what the projected win total is. No timing on when, other than when I'm up for it, as I'm busy planning the burial.