R.I.P., 2013 Giants
The Giants hoisted the World Series trophy in 2012, but in 2013 they find themselves in last place and eliminated from playoff contention.
The Giants are still the reigning World Series champs for another six weeks or so, but they've also been freshly eliminated from playoff contention. So now let us eulogize the surprisingly disappointing 2013 Giants ...
What went right
Buster Posey, while not quite as good as he was in his MVP campaign of 2012, turned in yet another quality season (.311/.379/.481), Brandon Belt (140 OPS+) had a strong breakout year, Hunter Pence (135 OPS+, 20 homers, 35 doubles) positioned himself well heading into free agency, and 23-year-old Madison Bumgarner looks bound for 200 strikeouts and a sub-3.00 ERA. While the bullpen as a whole was lacking, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Jean Machi and Sandy Rosario each turned an excellent season. Retread Yusmeiro Petit dazzled in limited action and came within a hairsbreadth of twirling a perfect game.
What went wrong
Broadly speaking, the Giants went from first to worst (at the moment) and are presently on pace to slough off 21 wins from their 2012 regular-season total. Specifically, the rotation collapsed. Last season, the Giants ranked a healthy 5th in the NL with a starters' ERA of 3.73. This season, despite a lower league-wide run-scoring environment, San Fran starters have an ERA of 4.43 -- good for 14th in the NL.
Notional ace Matt Cain, who finished sixth in the NL Cy Young balloting a season ago, posted the worst ERA of his career and his worst K/BB ratio since 2009. Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong teamed up to allow 155 runs in 214 2/3 innings, and Tim Lincecum once again failed to recapture his former glory.
MVP: Posey. He authored a team-best OPS+ of 149, and he logged more 900 innings behind the plate for a second straight season.
LVP: Zito. He logged an ERA of 5.91 in a league in which that average mark was 3.75. He also pitched the healthy majority of his innings in run-suppressing AT&T Park. Opting for the $7-million buyout in his contract for 2014 will be a very easy decision for the Giants.
Gameplan heading into the offseason
Address the status of the two name pending free agents, Lincecum and Pence. Hope that Pablo Sandoval maintains his recently improved level of fitness. Find some rotation solutions on the market or via trade and perhaps prepare to give Mike Kickham a more extended look next season. Seek out an upgrade in left.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2014
A rebound for Cain, continued excellence from Posey, better health for Pagan, the re-signing of Pence and another strong season from Belt yield improvement and a respectable third-place finish in the NL West. No playoffs, though.
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