In eight days, the San Francisco Giants will probably get blown out by Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees. But after that, there’s a raft of possibilities for not just every game but the season at large. Expectations are just modest enough that anything positive will probably get spun as a great success; but even still, there’s stuff beyond my cynical statement worth getting excited about as the season goes on.
That starts with the development of Casey Schmitt, whose 15-for-34 Spring Training has been nothing less than astonishing. I’m talking less about the actual performance and more about it coming from a promising position player prospect. That’s not something we’ve been able to say for quite a while when it comes to the Giants. And his skill set looks exactly like what the team needs as soon as he can prove that he’s ready to play every day. A slick glove at the hot corner with a decent bat? Beautiful. I can’t wait... especially because he vaguely resembles niche sketch comedy star Tim Robinson of I Think You Should Leave.
I see it! Don’t you see it? I want to Photoshop Schmitt’s face into all the bits! But we have to wait. No, really. I can’t... okay, just one:
Okay, not great. Terrible, even. But at least I got it out of my system; hopefully, I’ve inspired someone to do better work in this important field of research as Tim Robinson, at least for the time being, remains at the top of the heap when it comes to niche/alt comedy. Schmitt, too, is, like, the trendy pick for top Giants prospect (RIP Marco Luciano and Kyle Harrison).
He’ll start the season in the minors and player development isn’t linear. He’ll have setbacks, most likely, and his callup will depend on him being able to overcome them. And again, as exciting as a promising prospect is, there’s even more than Casey Schmitt to look forward to heading into 2023.
Here are five more reasons to be excited about the 2023 Giants:
Although the league has already signaled that some of the new rules implemented at the start of Spring Training will be adjusted ahead of Opening Day, let us assume that some sort of limit on throw-overs with a runner on base will be limited, even if it winds up being more than the two that pitchers have had during the spring.
Thairo Estrada had 21 stolen bases last season (the most since Hunter Pence had 22 in 2013). Bryce Johnson leads the Giants with 11 this spring (0 caught stealing); Blake Sabol, Austin Slater, Austin Wynns, Joey Bart, J.D. Davis, and Joc Pederson all have stolen bases in spring, too.
Will the Giants have multiple 20+ stolen base dudes this season? What about a pair of 30+ guys? Admittedly, Austin Slater’s hamstring issues might knock him out of the race, because I might’ve put him and Estrada at the front of it. The last time a Giant swiped thirty bags in a season? Dave Roberts in 2007 (31). For obvious reasons, let’s get a new name next to that record!
Seeing the Giants play every team this year
Yes, I think this new schedule format will get tiresome as soon as next year, but for now, it’ll be exciting to see them take on American League teams we haven’t seen them face in a while. Plus, we’ll have the aforementioned Judge vs. Giants story along with Carlos Correa vs. the Giants. Ohtani vs. the Giants. Brandon Belt vs. the Giants. It’ll be a regular For the Love of the Game situation for the Giants this year, where every game will have some sort of wild and emotionally relevant backstory.
A bounce back season for Michael Conforto
A funny/sad thing to do is sort the Giants by OPS since 2013 (minimum 100 plate appearances). Here is your top 10:
Michael Conforto’s career OPS of .824 (in 2,980 PA), then, would’ve made him one of the best hitters on the Giants since he came up in 2015. That means he has the chance to be the Giants’ best hitter by good measure, if he can stay healthy, and if he can make the adjustment to having missed an entire season. And, of course, he’ll be gone after the season if he posts an .800+ OPS, but hey, at least the Giants will get the draft pick! [Note: no, they won’t, since Conforto rejected the qualifying offer after 2021! — Bryan, you absolutely stupid idiot!]
Kyle Harrison or Sean Hjelle or Keaton Winn
This has more to do with the development of the pitching staff. The $70 million Arizona complex might start paying roster dividends this year if the velocity bumps for Hjelle and Manaea stick and the prospects continue to develop. This is more of a “keep an eye on everybody,” because surprises won’t be mysteries in 2023. In a post lockout world, the Giants’ larger development scheme might actually start working as intended.
The broadcast team
It should almost go without saying, but at the same time, Jon Miller, David B. Flemming (uh— any word on a contract extension???), Duane Kuiper, and Mike Krukow are vital natural resources and we must enjoy them while we can.
The pitch clock, slightly cheaper beers at Oracle Park, the farm system — there’s a nonzero chance it rockets forward this year. Though unlikely, because they’re the Giants, they certainly have a lot of moving parts and their beleaguered, maligned, unhelpful farm system might accidently spit out a couple of useful players.