For a while there it looked like the stars were aligned for the Giants to make another every-other-year run at the World Series; clinching a wild card playoff berth on the last day of the season and having post-season ace Madison Bumgarner lined up to pitch the Wild Card game on four-day’s rest. Bumgarner did his part throwing a complete-game, four-hit shutout against the New York Mets but the Giants quest came up short when they were defeated by the Cubs in the NLDS.
San Francisco’s 87-75 record was a three-game improvement from the previous season but the Giants still finished second behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West for the third year in a row.
The acquisition of nine-year-veteran Johnny Cueto, paired with Bumgarner, provided the Giants with perhaps the best one-two starting pitching punch in baseball. Cueto posted an 18-5 record with a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts spanning 219 innings and a league-leading five complete games. Bumgarner went 15-9 with a 2.74 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 226 innings in 34 starts and was named to his fourth straight All-Star team. The pair should remain together as Cueto is signed through 2021 and Bumgarner through 2017 with the Giants holding options for 2018-2019. Free-agent signee Jeff Samardzija won a career-high 12 games against 11 losses with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts.
The Giants 593 runs allowed was the fourth fewest in the league and while the starting pitching was more than adequate the bullpen proved to be the team’s Achilles heel committing a major-league-high and franchise-record 32 blown saves. If the Giants bullpen had converted just half of those save opportunities they would have most likely won the division and would have avoided playing the Cubs in the NLDS.
The Giants addressed the team’s bullpen issue signing free-agent closer Mark Melancon to a four-year $62 million deal. Melancon split time between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals last year, finishing a league-high 67 games with 47 saves and a 1.64 ERA in 71 innings. The Giants offense also sputtered last year finishing 9th in the league with 715 runs scored.
Catcher Buster Posey hit 14 home runs with 80 RBI and his .288 batting average was the lowest in the last five years but he was named to his fourth All-Star squad and won his first Gold Glove Award. First baseman Brandon Belt hit .275 and led the team with just 17 home runs while his 82 RBI were two behind Brandon Crawford’s 84. Crawford played in a career-high 155 games, hitting .275 with 12 home runs and led the NL with 11 triples and won his second consecutive Gold Glove.
San Francisco Giants Prospects to Watch
Infielder Christian Arroyo is the Giants No. 2 ranked prospect by Baseball America. Arroyo hit .274 with 36 doubles at AA Richmond last year and has compiled a .294 batting average over four minor league seasons.