In 2021, the San Francisco Giants won 107 games, led the NL West, and were the winningest team in the NL. In 2022, the Giants were 81-81 and did not advance to the playoffs.
What happened? My theory is that Buster Posey, the core figure that spurned the team on towards a huge year in 2021, wounded the team in retiring after a great year. Without Posey, the team attempted, as they had in the Posey-less years, to rally behind Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria, and that didn't work as well. Joey Bart was a less than stellar replacement for Posey, Luis Gonzalez' legend only lasted for a month, Yaz was hurt for a bit, and though it wasn't anyone's fault, this Giants team didn't match up to its predecessor.
2022 was the last year of Evan Longoria's Giants contract, which had defined the team for the past 5 years. Longo, as he had in previous years, put up a valiant effort at the plate but absolutely refused to stay healthy. In 89 games he hit .244 with 42 RBIs and 14 home runs. The Giants never got a full season of production from Longoria throughout the entire contract, and now division rivals like the D-Backs are reportedly looking at bringing him on.
2023 Prediction: I genuinely think 2023 is gonna be his fullest season since leaving Tampa, and that he's gonna have the sort of 'Torii Hunter in Detroit' kind of comeback that people are gonna really enjoy. Not quite sure who it'll be with at the present moment, though Phoenix is making a ton of sense.
Brandon Crawford's Hall of Fame case is gonna be weird, man. 2 World Series rings, 3 All-Star appearances, 4 gold gloves, and his best season came when he was 34. Still, Crawford's 2022 was his worst season since 2019, and though he did make 118 games, he was sidelined with an injury for a bit. 52 RBIs and 9 homers for Crawford, which, while not bad, does point to some decreased production into his late 30s.
2023 Prediction: For what very well could be Craw's last year in SF, uh...I'd say back to his better numbers, some great defensive play and some last big games for the fans.
Meanwhile, fellow veteran standout Brandon Belt also had his weakest year since 2019, though it was not helped by an injury that limited the corner infielder to 78 games. Belt still hit 8 homers and 23 RBIs in that time, but for a player whose contract was spinning its final games, it was a less than graceful way to bow out.
2023 Prediction: Will DH adequately somewhere.
Though the Giants' rotation was pretty well set this year, the injury to Anthony DeSclafani meant that Jakob Junis, next in the depth chart and in SF after some time in Kansas City, would have to start games. Against all odds he impressed, with a 4.42 ERA and 98 Ks in 23 games, being a stronger force than even Alex Wood.
2023 Prediction: With the number of starters that may not come back, Junis' steady and slight work may come very much in handy for the rotation.
Camilo Doval made waves in 2021 as a sneaky little relief piece, but struggled in the postseason. In 2022, Doval got the ninth, and saved 27 games, striking out 80 and walking away with a 1.9 WAR. Despite the presence of Tyler Rogers, Doval could be a long-term answer for closing games in SF, and is young enough, and nasty enough, to have some eyes on him this early in his career.
2023 Prediction: 30+ saves, the legend goes on.
Though the Giants parted with a few pieces over July, including bench bat Darin Ruf, they did manage to snag utility infielder and extra piece J.D. Davis from the Mets. Davis hit .263 in 49 games in San Francisco, hitting 8 home runs and 14 RBIs along with 36 hits. And seeing as there's soon to be a vacancy at third, Davis may have found himself on the right team at the right time.
Get ready for a big year from this guy, he and Kapler are gonna get along splendidly.
Tomorrow, some rare Guardians I didn't get to during the postseason.
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