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What does Steamer think of the Giants’ hitters?

The 2019 Steamer projections are here. How much do they hate the Giants offense?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, when the baseball world was enraptured by what Clayton Kershaw was going to do, FanGraphs made the 2019 Steamer projections available. It’s an exciting time because depending on what it says about your favorite player you can point at them and shout, “See? I told you he was good,” or you can rail against the complex algorithms and the person that made them: Jared Cross.

I’ve looked at the position players and grouped them into four categories depending on my reaction to their projection:

· I told you he was good

· It is what it is

· I will fight you, Steamer

· Yikes

I told you he was good

Buster Posey

551 PA, .286/.363/.425, 12 HR, 4.4 WAR

Posey is coming off his worst season in which his power all but vanished. This was likely due to his hip injury, but Steamer doesn’t care about Buster Posey’s hip and neither should you. This would be a much more familiar Buster Posey season. 4.4 would be his highest fWAR since 2015, and it beats out every catcher’s projected 2019 by nearly a full win. JT Realmuto is the next closest with 3.7 fWAR and Yasmani Grandal is behind him at 3.5. Buster Posey is still the best even if he didn’t win the stinkin’ Gold Glove this year.

Brandon Belt

622 PA, .252/.358/.435, 20 HR, 2.8 WAR

Unsurprisingly, Belt is projected to have the Giants’ best offensive season. Somewhat surprisingly, Steamer projects Belt to have a full season’s worth of playing time. I suppose it’s hard to build a system capable of predicting all the flying objects that will try to occupy the same volume as Belt’s body.

Still, it’s nice seeing Belt projected for 20 homers even though he’s never done that before.

Evan Longoria

626 PA, .254/.306/.428, 21 HR, 2.1 WAR

The Giants haven’t had a player hit 20 or more home runs since Brandon Crawford hit 21 in 2015, but according to Steamer, they’re going to have two next year! Two! The hubris!

If not for completely forgetting how to walk, Longoria would have had a decent 2018. Steamer projects that he’ll walk 39 times next year. That isn’t great, but it’s 17 more walks than he had with his first year in San Francisco.

Longoria being a roughly league average starter might put him into the “It is what it is” category on another team. I don’t know about you, but my expectations sure are tempered after watching this team for the last two years. This line seems like a perfectly reasonable expectation for Longoria. He’ll hit some dingers, play good defense, and not a lot else, but that’s enough to make him a serviceable starter.

Joe Panik

552 PA, .275/.342/.399, 9 HR, 2.2 WAR

During the season, Bryan and I both wrote pieces about how Joe Panik will be fine, and Steamer agrees. It was wrong of me to lose faith in Joe Panik during my season review. Panik is going to be a league-average starter again, so the Giants don’t have to do anything stupid like sign DJ LeMahieu. Despite having a few lost seasons in his short career, there’s a lot to like about Joe Panik such as:

· He has a 90 percent contact rate

· He’s a good-to-great defender

· He can rope doubles

· He’s a cinnamon roll

The sub-.400 slugging is a bit concerning, but he has enough patience and bat-to-ball skills to get on-base enough to be an average hitter.

Brandon Crawford

604 PA, .254/.322/.401, 14 HR, 2.7 WAR

Yeah, that looks like a Brandon Crawford season. Crawford will be 32 next year, and he doesn’t have to age gracefully, but Steamer thinks that he will. After two down years, he’ll take a step forward. I’m down with that.

It is what it is

Abiatal Avelino

84 PA, .241/.286/.360, 1 HR, 0.1 WAR

Avelino avoids the “Yikes” category because he should be spending most of the year in Triple-A, and the Giants have Alen Hanson and Pablo Sandoval for utility infield. In 2018, Avelino split his time between annihilating Double-A and scuffling in Triple-A, so he should get another season of refinement in Sacramento before he’s a serious depth option on the 25-man.

Gorkys Hernández

524 PA, .246/.308/.367, 10 HR, 0.4 WAR

As a fourth or fifth outfielder, this would be fine. According to Steamer, Hernández will continue swatting dingers. He just won’t be as prolific as he was in 2018. He’ll also continue not drawing walks.

Chris Shaw

46 PA, .224/.276/.382, 1 HR, -0.1 WAR

I suppose it’s going to be hard for Shaw to get big league playing time when he’s blocked by Bryce Harper

I will fight you, Steamer

Steven Duggar

555 PA, .237/.306/.347, 7 HR, 0.9 WAR

I’d just like to point out that 0.7 fWAR in a quarter of the playing time. To suggest that he’ll produce the same value in four times the amount of playing time is an insult. With his defense, all Duggar has to do is hit like he did last year (.693 OPS, 87 wRC+), and he’s a 3-4 win player easily.

Austin Slater

399 PA, .256/.323/.376, 7 HR, 0.4 WAR

Slater’s slugging hasn’t followed him to the majors yet, but like, it’s gonna. Slater’s slugging in the last three years in Sacramento have been as follows: .506, .467, .564. Slater can absolutely slug over .400 in the majors. He just, you know, hasn’t yet.

Mac Williamson

476 PA, .226/.292/.386, 16 HR, -0.1 WAR

Williamson was primed for a breakout last year, but the bullpen mound had other plans. Williamson getting 476 PA after missing most of the season would be a welcome development on its own, but the rest of that line is an affront. Williamson worked with the same hitting coach as Justin Turner, you know? Any projection system that doesn’t suddenly predict that Williamson will become a perennial down-ballot MVP candidate is a sham.

Yikes

Aramís García

120 PA, .220/.267/.351, 3 HR, 0.2 WAR

One of my hopes for Aramis García was that he’d display enough promise to make re-signing Nick Hundley unnecessary. The Giants could do worse with bat-first backup catchers than Hundley, but the only other catcher who is worse at framing is Willson Contreras. García showed enough power potential (and framing competence) to depose Hundley. In 65 PA, García slashed .286/.308/.492 for a 117 wRC+. That’s pretty dang good!

But Steamer is less impressed with the 47.7 strikeout percentage and .500 BABIP that came along with it. It’s even less impressed with his middling minor league numbers. García probably isn’t ready to assume backup duties quite yet, and I guess that’s fine.

Pablo Sandoval

173 PA, .240/.295/.390, 5 HR, -0.2 WAR

Steamer predicts that Pablo Sandoval will have his first full sub-replacement season in a Giants uniform. The good news is that the Red Sox are still paying for him. I bet that’s really sticking in their craw. I mean, when was the last time the Red Sox did anything?

As presently constructed, the Giants are relying on Sandoval being a viable bench option. But if Sandoval doesn’t work out, then the Giants could convert him to the bullpen full-time.

Alen Hanson

244 PA, .244/.290/.381, 5 HR, 0.1 WAR

I still want to believe in Alen Hanson. Steamer does not share my faith. When Hanson broke into the bigs hitting nothing but extra-base hits, there was concern that he was getting a little lucky, and yeah, he was. Out of all batters with 50 PA, Hanson had the sixth highest wOBA-xwOBA, and his wOBA was only .297 (league average was .315). So he was below average, but still among the luckiest players in baseball.

Two spots behind him was Steven Duggar, but Hanson doesn’t have the elite defense at a premium position to buoy his value.


One thing that jumps out to me, is that the Giants really aren’t getting any help from their young players. All their best projections come from their older players apart from Hernández and Sandoval. Make of that what you will.