Giants Hot Corner’s GIANTS NOTES – APRIL 2014

Tim Hudson Giants

Here are some interesting notes and numbers as we look back on the San Francisco Giants opening month of the 2014 season:  

  • Through 28 games this season, the Giants have hit 34 home runs which ranks third in Major League Baseball.  Of the two teams ahead of them, one gets to use a designated hitter (Angels) and the other gets to play at Coors Field (Rockies)
  • Through 28 games in 2013, the Giants roster had hit only 21 home runs.  Brandon Belt, Michael Morse, Buster Posey and Brandon Hicks have already hit 24 this year.
  • The 2013 Giants ended up reaching 34 home runs in their 39th game of the season
  • Giants left fielders and second basemen combined to hit only 9 home runs in 2013 in 1,387 plate appearances.  Through the first month of the 2014 season, they have already hit 10 home runs in only 223 plate appearances.
  • Brandon Belt hit 7 home runs in April.  Last year Belt didn’t hit his 7th home run until June 9th.
  • Despite the Giants 2014 power surge, their 17-11 record is only 1 game better than where they were at this time last year (16-12)
  • Aside from the power, the Giants offense has been rather mediocre ranking 22nd in MLB in batting average (.239), 21st in OBP (.309) and 20th in runs scored
  • How is Pablo Sandoval doing in his “walk” year?  How about a slash line of .177/.262/.302.  It is safe to say that some of his poor performance has been due to poor luck.  His BAbip (Batting Average on balls in play) is only .201, which is well below his .312 lifetime average.  
  • The Giants pitching staff has been stellar so far, posting a 3.24 ERA (7th in MLB) and a 1.18 WHIP (5th)
  • Brian Sabean takes a lot of heat from Giants fans, but the Tim Hudson signing has looked great so far.  Hudson’s opening month as a Giant saw him go 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA, but that barely begins to tell the story on how dominant he has been.  Through 46.2 innings, Hudson has a 0.74 WHIP, which ranks 2nd in MLB, and an unbelievable 15.5:1 K to BB ratio (31 Ks, 2 BBs)
  • Giants pitchers are enjoying the spacious AT&T Park so far as they have 2.51 home ERA and an outstanding 1.05 WHIP.  However, the Giants arms have not fared so well on the road, posting a team ERA of 4.14 and a WHIP of 1.34.
  • The Giants pitchers have only surrendered 9 home runs at home this year in 559 opponent’s plate appearances.  On the road, they have allowed 21 home runs in 474 plate appearances.
  • One of the Giants biggest weapons this year has been their bullpen.  Giants relievers have posted a 2.05 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP through the first month of the season.   2014 MLB averages are 3.70 and 1.33.

Should the Giants Extend Pablo Sandoval?

sandoval

With the recent news that Pablo Sandoval shot down the Giants’ 3-year, $40 million extension offer, what should they do now?  Sandoval is reportedly seeking a contract in the neighborhood of the one Hunter Pence received last September (5/$90 million) from the Giants.  The Giants appear to be in a bit of a dilemma as Sandoval is a fan favorite and their minor league cupboard appears bare at third base, but on the other hand, he has weight issues and has had problems staying on the field.  

Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, lost about 40 pounds (it appears some has already been put back on) this off-season as he seems poised to have a big year with free agency looming.  I’m not completely sold that Pablo’s weight was a major factor in his past injuries, as two of his lengthiest DL stints were due to broken hamate bones in each hand.  I do believe that in order for Sandoval to earn a hefty contract, he will need to stay at third base and that will not happen if he continues to put weight on.  Defensive metrics show that Sandoval was a below average third baseman last season (-10 Runs Saved per Baseball Reference), and at this point playing first base is not even an option with the emergence of Brandon Belt, as well as the eventual Buster Posey move to first.  

The biggest issue for me are Sandoval’s declining offensive numbers over the past few seasons: 

2011:  .315/.357/.552

2012:  .283/.342/.447

2013:  .278/.341/.417

While the offensive trend is not a good sign, I would feel comfortable offering Sandoval a contract as high as 3-years/$50 million.  I definitely would not go over 3 years, considering the weight problems that Sandoval has had in the past and I feel that $16.7 million per season is more than fair given the going free agent market.  

Best case: Sandoval keeps the weight off and plays league average defense at third for the duration of the deal.  He stays relatively healthy and regains some of the power that was sapped by his recent hand surgeries and hits similar to his 2011 season.  This 3-year extension would only take Sandoval through his age 31 season, so this is possible.

Worst case:  Sandoval continues to decline offensively and eats his way off of third base and you are stuck with a year or so of an extremely expensive bench bat.

If Sandoval stands strong on his 5-year (or even 4-year) contract demands, the Giants should simply make him the qualifying offer after this season and let him walk once he declines.  This way the Giants could get a draft pick if he signs elsewhere, and use their money to sign a better third basemen like San Diego’s Chase Headley.  The Giants could also get Sandoval back at a discounted rate going this route, as teams may be hesitant to lose a draft pick by signing Sandoval (like Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales).

Please let me know your thoughts and what contract, if any, you would offer to Pablo.

2014 Opening Day Roster Predictions

Giants Opening Day

Here are my predictions on the San Francisco Giants 2014 Opening Day Roster:

STARTING PITCHERS

SP Madison Bumgarner (LH)

SP Matt Cain

SP Tim Lincecum

SP Tim Hudson

SP Ryan Vogelsong

BULLPEN

RP Yusimero Petit

RP David Huff (LH)

RP Jean Machi

RP Derek Law

RP Santiago Casilla

RP Jose Lopez (LH)

RP Sergio Romo

POSITION PLAYERS

C Buster Posey

Hector Sanchez

1B Brandon Belt

2B Brandon Hicks

SS/2B Ehire Adrianza

SS Brandon Crawford

3B Pablo Sandoval

UTIL Joaquin Arias

LF Michael Morse

CF Angel Pagan

RF Hunter Pence

OF Gregor Blanco

OF Juan Perez

Disabled List:

RP Jeremy Affeldt

2B Marco Scutaro
What do you think?  Leave your thoughts in the “Comments” section.