San Francisco Giants: 2017 Season Review and Offseason Preview

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 01: Pablo Sandoval
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 01: Pablo Sandoval /

What Went Wrong

The Giants’ offense was terrible. They were second-to-last in MLB in runs scored and on-base percentage and last in home runs and slugging percentage. Hunter Pence is a fun guy to watch, but he had a bad year. His .260/.315/.385 batting line was the worst of his career and made him a below-average hitter for the first time.

Catcher Nick Hundley struggled to get on base (.272 OBP) and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez had no power (.326 SLG). Rookies Ryder Jones (.173/.244/.273 in 164 plate appearances) and Christian Arroyo (.192/.244/.304 in 135 plate appearances) did not have a successful introduction to major league pitching.

Also, for some reason the team brought back Pablo Sandoval after he was released by the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval showed he still can’t hit by posting a .225/.263/.375 line with the Giants. He also dealt the team a tough blow by hitting a walk-off home run to win their final game of the year. That win by the Giants allowed the Detroit Tigers to have the number one pick in next year’s June Amateur draft.

Heading into the season, the Giants were hoping Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Moore would fall in behind ace Madison Bumgarner to give the team a strong rotation. Instead, Bumgarner missed half the season, Cueto had a 4.52 ERA, Samardzija’s results didn’t match his peripherals, and Moore was the worst of the bunch, with a 5.52 ERA and 4.75 FIP. Ty Blach had 24 starts but his 4.78 ERA was not impressive.

Then there was Matt Cain, the one-time mainstay of the staff. From 2006 to 2013, Cain averaged 209 innings per year with a 3.38 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He was reliable too, never starting fewer than 30 games during this eight-year stretch. In 51.3 postseason innings in 2010 and 2012, Cain was 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA.

Then injuries hit and Cain struggled. Over the last four years, he averaged 91 innings per year, with a 5.23 ERA. In late September, he announced he would retire after the season, then pitched five scoreless innings in his final start. Unfortunately, the Giants couldn’t score and lost the game, 3-2. Cain was a good guy who had a tough ending to a fine career.

Last December, the Giants signed free agent reliever Mark Melancon to a 4-year, $62 million contract to be their shutdown closer. Over the previous four years, Melancon averaged 37 saves, a 1.80 ERA, and 72 innings per year. This season went poorly right from the start when Melancon blew his first save opportunity of the year on Opening Day.

After that inauspicious debut, Melancon notched eight scoreless outings, then recorded his second blown save on the last day of April. On May 9, Melancon was placed on the DL for the first time. He came back on May 19 and was healthy enough to pitch for another five weeks, but struggled in June and was placed on the DL again on June 28.

He tried again in August and lasted into the first week of September, but the Giants finally ended his season after a bad outing in Colorado on September 5. He finished with a 4.50 ERA in 30 innings. He had surgery to repair the pronator muscle in his right forearm (compartment syndrome), but is expected to make a full recovery and start next year back in the closer’s role.

Finally, the Giants had two left-handed relievers who were just awful. Josh Osich (6.23 ERA in 43.3 innings) and Steven Okert (5.67 ERA in 27 innings) were knocked around the yard on a regular basis.