Fun fact. I read somewhere this week that that the Giants have not made a postseason appearance in an odd year since 2003. Fun fact indeed. Firstly – the even year thing is tired now isn’t it? I thought we might be putting that aside after last season. Secondly – didn’t the Taylor Swift thing put all that nonsense to bed? I love fun facts, but only if they are actually fun. To qualify as a genuine fun fact in my eyes they must be surprising (if you don’t immediately doubt it or say ‘hmmmm’ to yourself then it isn’t all that surprising!). They must also be revealing in some way about how a player, or a trend, or the game of baseball has changed over time. Below are some Giants ‘fun’ facts you will hopefully see in 2017 at some point. I say hopefully because if you see them then the Giants will have had a fantastic year! Feel free to feign omniscience by preemptively tweeting these just in advance of the broadcasters as these get close to happening, to the amazement of your followers…!
Giants to have 4 pitchers throw 200+ innings for first time since 1973.
The 1973 season was mostly unremarkable for the Giants, finishing third in the National League West with a record of 88–74, 11 games behind the Cincinnati Reds. 27 year old Bobby Bonds led the league in runs and finished third in NL MVP voting after hitting a career-high 39 home runs and nabbing 43 bases. Jim Barr, Tom Bradley, Ron Bryant and Juan Marichal where the four Giants pitchers who pitched 200 or more innings, something that hasn’t been repeated in the forty-four years since. In fact the feat, once fairly common, has only been achieved six times this century by any team most recently by the Reds in 2012. With stalwarts Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto pitching 435 innings combined last year, and with steady if unspectacular work from Jeff Samardzija, the Giants should have at least three guys do 200+ again. Add in Matt Moore, who pitched 198 innings for the Rays and the Giants in 2016 – and who will likely go more in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park – and the odds look good. Doing so would be a surefire way of putting less strain on the bullpen too, which won’t hurt the Giants season one bit.
Mark Melancon to break the Franchise record for Saves.
The Giants had to sign an elite closer after the Casilla shambles last time out, and free agent Mark Melancon got 51 saves in 2015 and 47 in 2016 so was the prime candidate. Given that Melancon has averaged 49 saves over the previous two years, it is perhaps not much of a hot take to say he has a decent chance of breaking the franchise record of 48, held jointly by Brian Wilson (2010) and Rod Beck (1993). He’s ready for the season, let’s hope the rest of the bullpen are too!
Giants to have at least three or more players hit 20+ HR.
On the face of it this doesn’t seem like it would be particularly impressive – 8 clubs had 5 or more players hit 20+ homers in 2016, but the Giants had none. San Francisco baseball fans are relatively starved of home runs by comparison to some of their rivals, and they haven’t see three or more Giants have 20+ seasons since four did it in 2006. Could we have
Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt do what Moises Alou, Barry Bonds, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz achieved 11 years ago? Although they each have the potential to hit 20 or more, it would perhaps be a big ask to have all four do it in a season, so I’m going for just three this year.
A Giants player to steal 30+ bases.
The last time the Giants had someone nab 30 bases was when now-Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stole 31 in 2007. Before that you have to go back to Barry Bonds, who achieved the feat in three consecutive seasons between 1995-97, when speed on the basepaths was characteristic of his game. Eduardo Nunez, a mid-year pick up from the Twins helped himself to 40 steals (13 with the Twins, 27 as a Giant) and according to projections he should get at least 30 in 2017. He could get 40 or more again, but he would be more valuable if he could improve again on his power – he hit 16 home runs last year, but that might be a big ask. Either way, they’ll see his speed on the basepaths as a considerable asset, all the more so as has become such a rare commodity in San Francisco.
A Giants pitcher to win 20+ games.
No Giant has done this since Bill Swift and John Burkett won 21 and 22 respectively in 1993. This will obviously depend on run support, (Justin Verlander threw 27 quality starts last year but won 16, whereas J.A Happ got 20 wins lsat year with only 21 quality starts), but the potential is definitely there. Bumgarner worked 25 quality starts and Johnny Cueto 22, and only Chris Sale threw more complete games, so a bit of luck could see one or both be the first Giant(s) in 24 years to notch 20 wins in a season.