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Grading the Giants' lineups for the last 10 home openers

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How have the Giants greeted AT&T Park over the last decades? With a plethora of different lineups, both good and bad.

Not a home opener, but hopefully a metaphor
Not a home opener, but hopefully a metaphor
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Giants are hosting the Dodgers for the 2016 home opener on Thursday, which is notable because a) this is the first official game at AT&T Park this season, and b) the Dodgers are a bunch of dumb stupidheads. The lineup the Giants will use in the home opener goes like this:

  1. Denard Span - CF
  2. Joe Panik - 2B
  3. Buster Posey - C
  4. Hunter Pence - RF
  5. Brandon Belt - 1B
  6. Matt Duffy - 3B
  7. Brandon Crawford - SS
  8. Jake Peavy - P
  9. Angel Pagan -LF

It's the lineup that we've been expecting all offseason, albeit with the pitcher in a funky spot, but it's a very good lineup. If you're focusing on the #8 and #9 spots in any lineup and thinking "I don't know about this ...", you're overthinking it. This lineup gets a solid A-, a grade that's dinged only by the probable dearth of dingers. It made it through spring training entirely healthy, which is an automatic B, at least.

But how does it stack up to other Giants lineups from previous home openers? We'll take a gander:

2015

  1. Nori Aoki - LF
  2. Joe Panik - 2B
  3. Angel Pagan - CF
  4. Buster Posey - C
  5. Brandon Belt - 1B
  6. Gregor Blanco - RF
  7. Matt Duffy - 3B
  8. Brandon Crawford - SS
  9. Chris Heston - P

Result: 2-0 loss to the Rockies.

Pagan sure is hitting third in this lineup, which you can tell is ravaged by injuries, right down to the starting pitcher. Bonus points for Duffy sneaking in, though, ostensibly to give Casey McGehee some needed rest. This lineup gets a B-, mostly because of the depth that Blanco, Duffy, and Heston show off.

2014

  1. Angel Pagan - CF
  2. Brandon Belt - 1B
  3. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  4. Buster Posey - C
  5. Hunter Pence - RF
  6. Mike Morse - LF
  7. Brandon Crawford - SS
  8. Brandon Hicks - 2B
  9. Tim Hudson - P

Result: 7-3 over the Diamondbacks

Belt in the #2 spot is intriguing, and it's a solid 2-6 in retrospect. At the time, I thought Morse would flop. The inclusion of Hicks is problematic, even though he was fine for a while, but it's a solid group of hitters and pitcher. Also, this team won the World Series. I'll give it a B+.

2013

  1. Angel Pagan - CF
  2. Marco Scutaro - 2B
  3. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  4. Buster Posey - C
  5. Hunter Pence - RF
  6. Brandon Belt - 1B
  7. Gregor Blanco - LF
  8. Brandon Crawford - SS
  9. Barry Zito - P

Result: 1-0 win over the Cardinals

One of the best home-opener lineups in recent memory. Remember that this is an in-his-prime Pagan and an unbroken Scutaro (he'd make the All-Star team). While I'm not sure if Blanco will ever hit ahead of Crawford at the bottom of the order again, this is an easy A-. It doesn't get a straight A because I'm counting the starting pitcher.

And then the odd year sucked them down and feasted on their intestines.

2012

  1. Angel Pagan - CF
  2. Melky Cabrera - LF
  3. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  4. Buster Posey - C
  5. Aubrey Huff - 1B
  6. Nate Schierholtz - RF
  7. Brandon Crawford - SS
  8. Emmanuel Burriss - 2B
  9. Matt Cain - P

Result: Giants won 5-0, with Matt Cain coming just one pitcher-hit away from a perfect game, a chance he would never get again.

Yipes! That sure is Huff in the #5 spot, a season after he was not very productive. That's followed by Schierholtz in right, and, oh, no, Emmanuel Burriss. Come back, Freddy Sanchez! Come back!

This team won the World Series.

I'll give it a C+ because of Cain and the part about the World Series, but it was a lineup with a lot of work to do after the first four hitters.

2011

  1. Andres Torres - CF
  2. Freddy Sanchez - 2B
  3. Aubrey Huff - RF
  4. Buster Posey - C
  5. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  6. Pat Burrell - LF
  7. Brandon Belt - 1B
  8. Miguel Tejada - SS
  9. Jonathan Sanchez - P

Result: 5-4 walk-off win against the Cardinals in extras. Ryan Theriot was the leadoff hitter for the other team.

Aw, Andres. And Pat! And .. oh, hey, Miguel, how are you doing, long time, anyway, I should get back to work, good seeing you, though.

Huff in the outfield wasn't so wacky in 2010, but it got ugly very quickly in 2011. Props to Bruce Bochy for putting Tejada eighth, considering his power-filled career, but this is a C at best.

2010

  1. Aaron Rowand - CF
  2. Edgar Renteria - SS
  3. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  4. Aubrey Huff - 1B
  5. Mark DeRosa - LF
  6. Bengie Molina - C
  7. John Bowker - RF
  8. Juan Uribe - 2B
  9. Jonathan Sanchez - P

Result: 5-4 walk-off win against the Braves in extras. Melky Cabrera was the leadoff hitter for the other team.

So raise your hand if you figured this would be the lineup that would start the dynasty! Mark DeRosa would get just a handful of games for the rest of his career, and he's hitting fifth.

This is a D+, easy. On a sad note, I looked for that GIF of the Radiohead "Just" video that I made about Rowand leading off, and it's gone. It was probably 30 MB anyway, so ...

2009

  1. Randy Winn - RF
  2. Edgar Renteria - SS
  3. Fred Lewis - LF
  4. Bengie Molina - C
  5. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  6. Travis Ishikawa - 1B
  7. Aaron Rowand - CF
  8. Emmanuel Burriss - 2B
  9. Tim Lincecum - P

Result: 10-6 win over the Brewers

Big bonus points for Cy Young Tim Lincecum, but serious demerits for just about everything else. It's nice to remember just how excited we were for Pablo Sandoval back then, instead of the unfortunate way it all ended. Other than his literal last play as a Giant, that is.

Still, D. That Lewis-Molina combo was frustrating at the time, and it's even more frustrating in retrospect. This was the most frustrating team I've ever followed. Frustrating!

2008

  1. Dave Roberts - LF
  2. Eugenio Velez - 2B
  3. Aaron Rowand - CF
  4. Bengie Molina - C
  5. Fred Lewis - RF
  6. Jose Castillo - 3B
  7. Rich Aurilia - 1B
  8. Brian Bocock - SS
  9. Matt Cain - P

Result: 8-4 loss to the Padres

If you cannot give this lineup an F-, then there are no f-minuses left in the world. There are three players in that lineup who shouldn't have been major leaguers, much less in a starting lineup.

Two years later, not a single one of those players would start for the Giants, other than Cain, and they won a World Series. That's not a coincidence.

This F- is hopefully bad luck for the new Dodgers manager, too.

2007

  1. Dave Roberts - CF
  2. Omar Vizquel - SS
  3. Barry Bonds - LF
  4. Ray Durham - 2B
  5. Rich Aurilia - 1B
  6. Bengie Molina - C
  7. Pedro Feliz - 3B
  8. Randy Winn - RF
  9. Barry Zito - P

Result: 7-0 loss to the Padres

Oh, how excited we were for Barry Zito. Oh, how that didn't quite work out as expected. Love to see Vizquel there, and Bonds automatically raises the lineup into C-grade contention, even if he's surrounded by replacement-level players, but C+ is as high as I can possibly go. I mean, that's an older Rich Aurilia playing first and hitting fifth.

2006

  1. Randy Winn - CF
  2. Omar Vizquel - SS
  3. Ray Durham - 2B
  4. Barry Bonds - LF
  5. Moises Alou - RF
  6. Lance Niekro - 1B
  7. Pedro Feliz - 3B
  8. Mike Matheny - C
  9. Noah Lowry - P

Result: 6-4 win over the Braves

You can't mess with the first five hitters, even if that defense must have been ... curious. Bonds and Alou together was a lot of fun, and I'll always be partial to Lowry, so this is a cool B-.

There you have it. Ten years of home-opener lineups. Two of them with Barry Bonds! Two of them with the current Dodgers manager. One of them about as good as this year's lineup, but with a dark odd-year curse hanging over it.

Now if I can get a Beat LA, let's get this started.