The Giants are almost certainly going to be better than they were last year. You can argue about the cost of delaying the inevitable rebuild, or the specific prospects and players who were traded away, but we can all agree that this doesn’t look like a roster that will lose 98 games again.
The Giants are going to catch a lot of guff from people who like to laugh at old rosters.
Both things can be true. Maybe they should be true. The Giants got better; the Giants got older; old teams can disappoint; the Giants should be the target of ribbing. It’s a rich tapestry of new information. I’m choosing to believe in the abacus twiddlers like Eno Sarris who say that the team is much improved and should contend.
That doesn’t mean the jokes will stop:
Or that they are new jokes.
Manny to the Giants? They're building the 1997 All-Star team.— Andy Lutzky (@rockatalic) January 3, 2009
But all this has me thinking about what this Giants team would have looked like in 2013. Would they be something of a super team?
Can we put Pablo at second base?
We’ll start with the lineup. My guess is that it will look pretty, pretty, pretty good.
The 2018 Giants lineup ... in 2013
YEP. PRETTY GOOD. Note that the Panik numbers were taken from the 2013 Baseball Prospectus Annual because I didn’t really know how to convert his (lackluster) Double-A numbers into MLB numbers.
There have been just a couple dozen teams to feature lineups with six players worth 3.5 WAR or more. One of them won the World Series last year. A lot of the won the World Series, actually. Probably a coincidence.
The rotation doesn’t fare quite as well, but ...
The 2018 Giants rotation ... in 2013
... that’s because of Cueto’s injury. I was torn by which year to choose for this post. Do you get Posey’s monster 2012? Well, you lose Evan Longoria to injury, and Brandon Crawford isn’t fully formed. If you do 2014, you get All-Star Samardzija and Cy Young Finalist Cueto, but you lose a ton from Austin Jackson, miss out on anything from Holland, and don’t get as much from Longoria. I could listen to arguments about any of the 2012-2014 versions.
I won’t go through the entire bullpen because it’s mostly filled with younger pitchers, but Mark Melancon was a certified badass in 2013, so he can stay.
What does this mean for the 2018 Giants? Uh, nothing. Nothing at all, really. It means that a lot of these players used to be really good in their prime.
Except that players who are excellent in their primes tend to have slower declines, so maybe it does mean something. Maybe we can actually take solace in all these old-timey numbers as a proof of concept. The only member of the lineup who hasn’t made an All-Star team is Austin Jackson, and he probably deserved to in 2010 or 2012. It can’t hurt to get all of those guys on one team.
Unless they aren’t as good anymore. Then it can hurt, I guess. Maybe I’ll shut up now.
But if you were curious if the Giants would have had a pretty sweet roster in 2013, now you aren’t. They would have been pretty, pretty, pretty good. Let’s hope the scientists working in the underground bunkers for GiantsCo™ have been productive with their de-agening ray.