1. Joey Bart hits 20-plus home runs
2022 isn’t 2021 nor is it 2020. Joey Bart is older, more experienced and more mature as a catcher and teammate than he was two seasons ago. He also doesn’t have to tango with Johnny Cueto’s shimmy again.
JOEY SZN pic.twitter.com/0G5jdZ6kyN— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 2, 2022
Last year in Sacramento, Bart had an .830 OPS. In 22 at-bats this spring, he hit three home runs and logged a 1.258 OPS. Duane Kuiper reported from the ground in Arizona that he liked the cut of Bart’s jib. He looked “relaxed” and more comfortable in the skin of a big leaguer.
There’s going to be some growing pains. He’s gonna take some hacks and probably strike out 125 times. He’s going to have to earn the trust from the veteran pitching staff as a pitch caller/framer, but Bart will hit.
Watching highlights from Sacramento, a lot of his home runs sail to right center which means he’s patient to the ball and understands his swing. His swing kind of reminds me of Austin Slater: a little stiff, a little inside-out. He’s not dislocating his hip trying to generate power and turn on a pitch—he knows his size and balance is all he needs to put one over the fence.
Sure, right center isn’t the best pocket to call at Oracle Park, so I’ll settle for 19 homers and 30 doubles. And it’s not like he can’t pull the ball.
Joey Bart launched this thing pic.twitter.com/vYWB7pHHX9— KNBR (@KNBR) April 7, 2022
2. Anthony DeSclafini throws a no-hitter
I’ll even tell you when and where: May 28th. Cincinnati.
He walks Jonathan India to lead off the game but then settles in to retire the next 15 in a row before Wilmer Flores boots a grounder at third in the 6th. An unseasonably cool day for western Ohio makes Great American Ball Park play big and Darin Ruf makes a sliding catch down the right field line in the 7th to preserve the no-hit bid. It’s all gravy from there.
Dealing DeSclafani— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 4, 2022
4.2 IP | 0 R | 8 K pic.twitter.com/Gx10njNWOV
I’d be willing to concede the exact date or that it’s against the Reds—but it happens before Memorial Day and it is no doubt Disco who does it.
3. Evan Longoria spends the season on the Injured List
Longoria is starting the season on the injured list after needing surgery on a finger that didn’t quite heal after being hit by a pitch last August.
This mid-thirty domino has already fallen and it’s going to get harder and harder for him to get back on the diamond and stay healthy. This has nothing to do with Longoria’s skill and everything to do with how the human body works. After a decade plus in the Major Leagues, the body wears out and becomes more susceptible to bumps and scrapes and bruises and dings.
That doesn’t mean Longoria will be dead weight, nor will he miss the opportunity to Kirk Gibson a homer to win the National League Championship Series. But, all in all, 2022 will be a frustrating one for our third baseman and players like Wilmer Flores, Thairo Estrada, and Luke Williams are going to have plenty of opportunities to helm the hot corner.
4. It’s Thairo Time
Thairo Estrada is going to be good.
He was another Spring standout for Kuiper. We all saw him play last year. He’s going to be everywhere in 2022. His flexibility on defense is going to be invaluable and his right-handed bat will be essential with the prolonged absence(s) of Longoria.
The Thairo trot pic.twitter.com/xsjZpU88l7— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 4, 2022
2022 Thairo Estrada is going to be like 2012 Marco Scutaro but ten years younger with more power. Similarly to 2012 Scooter, the Giants are going to realize they need Estrada a lot more than they thought they would.
So what happens with Dubie? It feels like the Bay isn’t quite big enough for these two utility players and a tough decision day is on the horizon for management regarding the option-less Dubón.
I hope I’m wrong about this one.
Dubon goes yard ‼️pic.twitter.com/wxwgL3Fc8W— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) March 27, 2022
5. The San Francisco Giants don’t repeat as National League West Champs … and that might be a good thing.
Last year was a unicorn riding a roller skates over a rainbow kind of year for the Giants. 107 wins was just silly and San Francisco isn’t going to do it again. No man or machine on this earth expects them too.
In fact some analysts and computers are iffy on whether they’ll even be good. PECOTA projections have them winning 78 games with a 13.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. Other robots have them notching win totals in the mid-80’s. No one has them winning the division and many believe they’ll place third.
Not a lot of love for the (Defending NL West Champion) San Francisco Giants in this year’s predictions… pic.twitter.com/wWC71UCQJi— KNBR (@KNBR) April 6, 2022
I agree with the division diagnosis to a certain extent. The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to win the West. Even if the wheels come off (which basically happened to them last year), they’ll still cruise across the 162 game finish line on top.
I know I know I know this is what everyone said last spring and the Giants proved them/us /me wrong. If it happens again, whistle la-di-da—I’ll happily take an ‘L’ on this if it means 15-plus more ‘W’s’ for San Francisco.
But I don’t think I’ll be wrong. In 2021, the Giants blew up the Death Star…then the darndest thing happened in 2022: LA just built another one.
This is the Dodgers’s galaxy and the rest of us are just living in it.
Despite their 107 wins last season, the Giants are being picked to finish third in the NL West.— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 6, 2022
Gabe Kapler isn't having it (via @PavlovicNBCS)https://t.co/NcbF9uBu40
Looking back, a tight and historic division race made for amazing baseball but it exhausted the Giants in the playoffs and ultimately wore the Dodgers down too. The division crown became our white whale and when they finally bagged the sea beast, they were spent. The bats got heavy.
Winning the division last year gained out-sized importance last year. Who knows how valuable it will be with the top-2 division winners earning a first round bye in the postseason? My gut: not that much. No team should take the field aiming for a second place finish, but with San Francisco’s pitching staff coupled with the new playoff format, a Wild Card series isn’t as scary or fickle as it once was.