2010 San Francisco Giants Preview

Tim Lincecum, RHP
Matt Cain, RHP
Barry Zito, LHP
Jonathan Sanchez, LHP
Madison Bumgarner, LHP

Closers and Setup
Brian Wilson, RHP
Jeremy Affeldt, LHP

Starting Lineup
Aaron Rowand, CF
Freddy Sanchez, 2B
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Aubrey Huff, 1B
Mark DeRosa, LF
Edgar Renteria, SS
Nate Schierholtz, RF
Bengie Molina, C

Player in Decline

Matt Cain stranded a ton of base runners and got lucky with the batted balls last year, so he is the most likely player to take a step back. Most of the starting lineup is otherwise old and already in the midst of their decline periods, so no warning is needed.

Player on the Rise

The team boasts a fearsome duo of young battery mates in Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, and with the pitchers’ velocity drop late last year, the bet here is that the catcher will shake off his late-season fatigue and put together the better debut season if he can push Molina out of the way.

Top 5 Fantasy Players
Tim Lincecum – Elite
Brian Wilson – Elite
Matt Cain – Elite
Pablo Sandoval – Elite
Mark DeRosa – Average

Top 10 Prospects
1. Buster Posey, C
2. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
3. Zach Wheeler, RHP
4. Thomas Neal, OF
5. Dan Runzler, LHP
6. Roger Kieschnick, OF
7. Brandon Crawford, SS
8. Ehire Adrianza, SS
9. Clayton Tanner, LHP
10. Tommy Joseph, C

Overall team outlook: Brian Sabean continues to run out declining and generally uninspiring veterans on offense, but since he was lucky enough to run into some serious starting pitching, his teams continue to be relevant late in the season. Is this the year a few of his veterans drink from the fountain of youth and score just enough runs to make it to the postseason?

The Starting Rotation: This is the rare starting rotation where every pitcher is rosterable in standard 12-team mixed fantasy leagues. Sure, Tim Lincecum and his incredible strikeout rate is the prize, but even all the way down to rookie Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ staff offers something for everyone. Matt Cain may take a step back next year if his luck stats are to be trusted, but even with a slightly higher WHIP, he’ll be a solid mid-rotation fantasy starter.

Barry Zito has gone from laughing stock to afterthought to spot starter over the last three years. He plays enough games against the Padres to be interesting from time to time – and fantasy owners don’t have to pay his ridiculous salary. Jonathan Sanchez may actually be the most divisive Giants starter in fantasy circles – you either believe in his strikeouts, or you think the walks will keep him from ever fulfilling his potential.

The Bullpen: Beach Boy Brian Wilson made huge strides last year by increasing his strikeout rate and decreasing his walk rate. His luck stats don’t scream regression, but the projections have him taking a step back and losing some of those gains. No matter, he’ll still be a top closer, if only because he looks relatively stable, is young, and plays for a team that should have plenty of low-scoring games and closing opportunities. Jeremy Affeldt rode his plus fastball/curveball combination to the best ERA of his career, but the underlying stats weren’t as pristine. It’ll take an injury to make him a closer.

The Starting Lineup: The 26th-ranked offense in baseball can only get better in 2010, but Sabean sure loves to acquire mediocre veterans, doesn’t he? That description can pretty much describe every player in the starting lineup other than young stud Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, whose game actually resembles his less-popular nickname, Fat Ichiro, with its high-BABIP, high-contact, high-wire approach. It’s nerve-wracking to recommend a guy with such a high BABIP, but he seems to have mastered some ability there. Otherwise, the rest of the offense features players that are best suited as late-round positional fillers at best.

Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, Edgar Renteria, Bengie Molina, and Aaron Rowand are all below-average fantasy players that shouldn’t be rostered in traditional mixed leagues unless they happen to be hot while your starter is injured. Only Nate Schierholtz joins Sandoval on the better side of his peak, and he has yet to turn in a Major League performance that looks anything like his Triple-A success (.925+ OPS in two seasons there). If he holds on to his job all year, he may put up a .280/20/80 season that will come cheaply and be a boon to deep league managers.

The Bench: Despite all the hand-wringing about Fred Lewis failing to develop further, the young man has done well against righties and may actually push Mark DeRosa into a super-utility role many days. He’s worth a thought or two in deeper leagues as one of the few younger players in this offense. We know who Juan Uribe is, and it’s not very exciting. Eugenio Velez is young and fast, he just doesn’t make enough contact. Travis Ishikawa is also young, and could have made a glove-and-OBP player against righties at first base, but will have to play his way through Huff to matter.

With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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Sounds about right.. to bad fred lewis will probably be cut by Sabean at the end of spring training