Sunday, March 13, 2011

Finding Keepers: San Francisco Giants

The 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants surprised many by becoming the champs but an in-depth look at their roster from a fantasy perspective shows they have plenty of pieces in place to make another run at the title.

SP Tim Lincecum is settling in as a guy you can pencil in for 16+ Wins, an ERA right around 3.00, a 1.20ish WHIP and nearly 250 K's. Roy Halladay has been the pitcher most likely off the board first (according to Mock Draft Central) but Lincecum goes next, even before reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. No one would blame you for locking up Lincecum as a keeper and the ace of your fantasy baseball pitching staff. Just a few points of caution, though.

ESPN's Player Rater ranked CL Brian Wilson as the Giants best fantasy player in 2010 and 33rd overall. The fantasy value of Closers and Saves in a standard 5x5 rotisserie league are always hotly debated. Wilson's numbers would have actually helped you in four of the five standard categories. His 48 Saves led the majors while sporting a 1.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and striking out 93 in just 74.2 innings pitched. There's plenty of risk in using a keeper selection on a closer but Wilson is currently one of the best and definitely worth consideration when evaluating your roster.

Last March, fantasy baseball was all abuzz about when C/1B Buster Posey would be called up to the majors causing most owners to invoke a draft and stash strategy and hope he was going to be worth all the hype. Well, Posey was called up and saw his first game action on May 29th, promptly going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and never looked back from there. In 108 games, he racked up 18 HR and 67 RBI with a .305 batting average and looks to be the next big thing at the always shallow fantasy baseball catching position. Lock Posey up in every possible scoring format and enjoy the above-average production he'll provide for many years to come.

SP Matt Cain is showing signs of becoming a consistent fantasy baseball starting pitcher option. He's putting up 14 Wins, an ERA around 3.00 and a WHIP near 1.10 with 170+ Ks over the last two seasons. At just 25 years old, there's no reason not to expect more of the same or even better. He easily can be considered a tier two fantasy baseball ace and a very nice option to anchor your staff in 2011.

The Giants pitching staff led the majors in team ERA, so it should be no surprise that their top four starting pitchers all have fantasy keeper value. SP Jonathan Sanchez and SP Madison Bumgarner are definitely riskier options but each have "breakout" stuff. Sanchez flashed some of that brilliance in 2009 when he pitched a no-hitter while striking out 11. Bumgarner showed his potential with an 8-inning, 3-hit shutout performance against the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Each could be had in the middle rounds of redrafts, so it may be worth keeping other, less-risky players and targeting each a round or two before others would grab them.

Best of the rest but not keepers:
  • 1B/OF Aubrey Huff shocked fantasy owners with his .290/100/26/86/7 line in 2010 and is still not getting fantasy love in 2011. The potential to repeat these numbers could make him another draft day steal as a CI or 4th OF option.
  • 3B Pablo Sandoval saw a dip in his BABIP (from .350 in 2008 to .291 in 2010) and in his fantasy value. A slimmed-down Panda is showing signs of life this Spring and should be targeted as a come-back candidate.
  • OF Andres Torres took full advantage of an opportunity to play full-time and didn't disappoint owners with his .268/84/16/63/26 production. Sneaky 15 HR/20 SB potential again for 2011, too.
  • Playoff superhero OF Cody Ross has 20+ HR power and a full-time job. Will be interesting to see what type of numbers he's able to put up.
  • 3B/SS Miguel Tejada was signed to bring some stability to the left side of the infield. He's not the offensive player he once was but .280/15/75 from a player with eligibility at two shallow positions could be a nice late-round pickup.
  • 1B Brandon Belt could be on the same track as Posey was in 2010. He may be drafted and stashed as a potential 2012 keeper.
The San Francisco Giants roster is filled with many fantastic fantasy baseball assets and should keep them competitive in the NL West for years to come. Are they built to go back-to-back? I wonder what Brian Wilson's Beard has to say about the odds of a repeat. I'd love to hear what you think their chances are of repeating, too.

Only two more teams left to cover in my Finding Keepers series (St. Louis and Toronto). I'm hoping to have them completed within a week, so please check back often.

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