Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth and MLB.com has been ranking his top 15 lineups, rotations and bullpens around baseball. Here's the good news:
Given the aforementioned instability of bullpens, in general, it's pretty amazing that so many key cogs from San Francisco's 2010 'pen -- Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez -- are still here. And those guys have, of course, been big contributors in the runs to three titles in five years.
This is a far cry from last year, when FanGraphs projected the Giants to have the worst bullpen in baseball and that author was exposed as a fraud. Same guys, better season, different ranking. There's also the possibility that three or four relievers show up from Richmond this year and blow our minds. So look out for that.
Castrovince also ranked lineups and rotations. The Giants didn't fare well in either one. Before you react and lash out, note that these were linked from the MLB.com homepage and attracted the hottest takes of partisan fans from across the Internet. You have people arguing that the Nationals shouldn't be in the rotation rankings. You have your and you're shenanigans everywhere. And you have this guy.
Don't be that guy. Actually ... we could use some of that spice around here. Do be that guy. But only one of you. Draw straws if you need to.
I've done rankings like this, and no one wins. Everyone hates me and my stupid opinions
No, this is a spot to look at the Giants' roster critically and do your best to remain impartial. Is it possible that the Giants don't have one of the 15-best rotations or lineups in baseball? Even though they just won the World Series a few months ago, and lost only Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse?
Yes and no. The Giants could have one of the best rotations in baseball, but they'll have to conquer a lot of ifs to get there. You might see the rotation like this:
- Badass ace
- Badass ace coming back from minor elbow surgery
- Former badass ace with an ERA of 2.17 down the stretch last year
- Former badass ace who made the All-Star team last year
- Former All-Star with something to prove in a contract year
Technically, all true! There is upside, certainly, considering the years these pitchers have all had in the past. The occasionally distant past. Here, though, is how the rest of the world sees the Giants' rotation:
- Ace who threw almost 300 innings last year
- Pitcher over 30 coming off elbow surgery
- Older pitcher with injury history and middling overall stats
- Older pitcher with hip and ankle injuries
- Older pitcher with declining velocity and middling overall stats
The true answer is probably in the middle. It's not absurd by any stretch to be skeptical of the lot, though. It's probably prudent. As someone who has gone into the season with these skeptical feelings and watched them be proven right, I'm worried. As someone who watched Travis Ishikawa play in a World Series game that Ryan Vogelsong started, I know that baseball is a daytime soap with lazy writers, and they're writing brain-transplant storylines because they're bored.
No, if I were to take slight issue with the admittedly subjective rankings, it would be with the lineup ranking. Not only did the Giants get snubbed in the honorable mentions, but they get snubbed in the honorable mentions of the honorable mentions, meaning they're not one of the top 18 teams included. The horror, the horror.
One of the teams that gets in the top 10: The Astros, because of dingers.
On the flip side, the Astros also have 10 guys projected by the Steamer system to finish with a double-digit homer total, with Carter (32), Gattis (28), Springer (28) and Rasmus (23) all projected to finish north of 20.
Dingers are nice. I like dingers. But as one of the best baseball writers on the Internet reminds us, dingers aren't everything.
Accumulating power is one thing you can do, but it's not the only thing you can do, and Sabean shouldn't feel bad about the team that he has. I mean, obviously. But while the 2015 Giants should miss a few dingers, they shouldn't miss much overall run production.
I already miss the Giants' dingers. It's going to be a frustrating season without these dingers. But when you account for park, the Giants are probably going to be okay.
2014 Giants rankings (MLB)
Not awful. Combined with the relatively solid team speed and defense, the Giants have a collection of solid players. The lineup, with the ballpark's help, doesn't look imposing. They should be alright, though, even if they'll probably have a better shot at finishing 19th in those rankings than they do fifth. Like the rotation, there are reasons for skepticism.
There's one more note, though. These rankings are all based on all of MLB. Let's rejigger those 2014 finishes to the NL only.
2014 Giants rankings (NL)
Ah, the lowered expectations of the Senior Circuit. The Giants had one of the best lineups in the NL last year, almost by default.
Do the Giants have a bottom-15 rotation and a bottom-15 lineup? Maybe. It's an odd year, you know, and you can make salient arguments that the Giants aren't very impressive in those two areas. On the other hand, the last few years have made me feel so ignorant about baseball that I'm numb to it.
I don't know, Giants. Surprise us. I'll stop guessing.