Remember, this is an organization that for years struggled to win the World Series. The Giants went between the years of 1954 and 2010 without winning and were in San Francisco since 1958 before winning their first World Series in four tries. Their three consecutive wins in World Series play put them at 8-12 all time in World Series play. That means the Giants (joining back to the New York days and the start of the World Series era in 1903 (not counting their forfeit of the 1904 series against the Boston Red Sox) had lost 12 of their first 17; so their winning percentage has improve drastically.
The Giants came out pretty strong this off season, signing free agent pitchers Johnny Cueto (11 wins, 13 losses, 3.44 earned run average, 176 strikeouts, 212 innings pitched) and Jeff Samardzija (11-13, 4.96, 163, 213). The Giants also signed outfielder Denard Span (.302 batting average, 5 home runs, 37 runs batted in, 31 stolen bases, 94 runs scored, 184 hits, 39 doubles in 2014).
Having Madison Bumgarner (18-9, 2.93, 234, just over 218) is enough for any organization to be proud of. Adding Cueto and Samardzija to be inserted behind him gives the Giants a top three that can only be matched by one other team, at least on paper. Veteran Jake Peavy (8-6, 3.58, 19 starts, just over 110 IP) at age 35 is still a very good option, especially as a number four starter. Matt Cain, the once heralded right hander who was a top of the rotation starter for the better part of eight seasons, has become a reclamation project. A man who owns a perfect game to his resume to go with his three All Star appearances seems to have fallen off drastically after battling some injuries in 2014. He was held to just 15 starts that season and in his 11 2015 starts, he was terrible compiling a 5.79 earned run average and a 1.500 walks and hits per inning pitched. Sometimes it is a lot to ask for when a pitcher is expected to turn back the clock. It may be too much to ask both Peavy and Cain to do that in the same season. Right hander Chris Heston (12-11, 3.95, 31 starts, just under 178 IP) has a 2015 no hitter to his credit as well. As a sixth starter, Heston will get more starts than the average pitcher in his situation. He is also a candidate to take over for Cain should he struggle early in the season. Also look at right handed pitcher Clayton Blackburn (10-4, 2.85, 99 Ks, 123 IP in Triple- A Sacramento), who is clearly major league ready at age 23.
The Giants will continue to go to old faithful when it comes to late game relief. Back of the pen staples Santiago Casilla (4-2, 2.79, 38 saves, 62 Ks, 58 IP) and Sergio Romo (0-5, 2.98, 71, just over 57) seem to be able to produce year after year, though their roles seem to rotated every year or so. It would not be a shock to see Romo in the closer's role again. A lot of credit is due to both pitchers to be very selfless and not make it about having to pitch the ninth inning. Left hander Javier Lopez (1-0, 1.60, 77 games, just over 39 IP) is the most dominant lefty on lefty pitcher I have seem in the game for a long time. Fellow lefty staple Jeremy Affeldt announced his retirement with his role being taken over by Josh Osich (2-0, 2.20, 35 games). Right handers George Kontos (4-4, 2.53), Hunter Strickland (3-3, 2.45) and Corn Gearrin (seven games last season) will join Heston in rounding out the Giants bullpen.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford (.256, 21, 84, .782) was one of the most improved offensive players in the entire sport last season. Former National League Most Valuable Player Buster Posey (.318, 19, 95, .849) is clearly the team's best offensive player but he has many complementary pieces including the formerly durable outfielder, Hunter Pence (.275, 9, 40, .806, 52 games). Pence returned from an injury that cost him the first couple months of the season only to miss the end of the season as well. His season started May 16th and ended on August 17th. First baseman Brandon Belt (.280, 18, 68, .834) is a very good hitter who the Giants are waiting to see hit for more power. Second baseman Joe Panik (.312, 8, 37, 833 in 100 games) and third baseman Matt Duffy (.295, 12, 77, 762) are two very scrappy players that most managers would love to have play for them. Left fielder Angel Pagan (.262, 3, 37, .635) moves over from center field with the hopes it will keep his legs a little bit fresher. He has not aged very well and the Giants hope he can stay healthy for an entire season.
The Giants lineup I would go with is Span CF, Panik 2B, Posey C, Belt 1B, Pence RF, Crawford SS, Duffy 3B, Pagan LF. Forth outfielder Gregor Blanco (.291, 5, 26, .781) is perfect for that role, but sometimes can get exposed playing too much everyday baseball. The team took a good look at non roster invitees Kyle Blanks and Gorkys Hernandez this spring with infielder Kelby Tomlinson and catcher Trevor Brown locks to make the team.
Shortstop Christian Arroyo is the Giants top prospect, but one which will not be rushed to the big leagues. Expect to see him by 2017. Blackburn is very fun to watch as he will eventually make the seamless transition into the Giants rotation. It will be interesting to see the progress of right hander Tyler Beade, the first round draft pick of 2014 who seems at least a year away from the big leagues. Through a loophole in the eligibility system in regards to amateur talent, 18 year old shortstop Lucius Fox was able to sign with the Giants as a free agent. He certainly needs some time to develop but he can clearly be an All Star caliber player as he possesses all the talents to do everything on the field well, runs fast, plays defense, hits for average, hits for power. Of course, all these skills need to be refine first.
It is difficult to not back the San Francisco Giants this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot of questions and even though the Arizona Diamondbacks have improved a lot, there is still a lot of concern. Las Vegas agrees with that assessment as they have the Giants over/ under set at 90. I take the over and have the Giants at 93-69, first place in the National League West division.