An even year brings Giants into the picture
March 04, 2018 9:00 AM
by Mark Mayer
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh of 30 at-bats for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. On deck Monday, the Kansas City Royals).
The San Francisco Giants embarrassed themselves and their fans last year by turning into the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates. The cure – taking the best players from both teams.
With Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutcheon, the lineup is again solid and having money lefty Madison Bumgarner hopefully healthy gives the pitching staff a solid big 3 along with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Vegas is totally aware of the changes which explains how a team that lost 98 games a year ago is a modest 30-1 to win the World Series and not 500-1.
No question the Giants are rolling the dice with a win now attitude. It’s a 30-something group of veterans trying to compete in a division controlled by the Los Angeles Dodgers and improving younger teams like Arizona, Colorado and San Diego.
Manager Bruce Bochy has been running the show since 2007 and this being an even year, the Giants figure to be major threats to make the World Series. Only in 2016 did they fail to win the NL pennant and they still won 87 games. In 2018, their over/under total wins is 83.5.
Both Longoria and McCutchen have been in multiple All Star Games and have won several Gold Gloves. They also signed huge contracts with their former teams and expected to play their entire careers there. So being in San Francisco figures to energize them and in turn a Giants team that had everything wrong happen in 2017.
Now a lot of the pressure is off Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and the often-injured Hunter Pence to provide power numbers. Joe Panik will move from third to second base to make way for Longoria, while Pence goes to left field with McCutchen now in right. Austin Jackson, the ex-Detroit Tiger, will be in center.
Bumgarner is the best left-hander in the NL not named Clayton Kershaw. Oh by the way, the two are slated to face each other in the season opener Mar. 29 at Dodger Stadium. If history repeats itself, expect the Giants to win at least 84 games and no worse than a Wild Card berth.
Encore: The Giants are rated 4-1 to win the NL West, second best behind LA. Speaking of the Dodgers, the two bitter rivals meet seven times in the first nine games.
2017 record: 64-98
2016 record: 87-75
2015 record: 84-78
World Series win odds: 30-1
Odds to win NL West: 4-1
2018 season win total: 83.5