Giants

Giants SS Brandon Crawford wins third straight Gold Glove

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USATSI

Giants SS Brandon Crawford wins third straight Gold Glove

SAN FRANCISCO — For all that went wrong for the Giants in 2017, their pitchers never had to worry when a ground ball was hit up the middle. On Tuesday, Brandon Crawford was once again rewarded for those efforts. 

Crawford won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award, becoming the first National League shortstop since Jimmy Rollins (2007-09) to pull that off. He is the 15th shortstop in MLB history to win three Gold Gloves and the first Giant since J.T. Snow (1997-2000) to win a Gold Glove in three consecutive years. Snow, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays are the only players in franchise history with more Gold Gloves than Crawford. 

“It was definitely a tough season on the field and off the field,” said Crawford, who dealt with the death of his sister-in-law early in the year. “It’s an individual award, but to at least get some sort of positive out of this season is definitely nice. Obviously we’d prefer team recognition but an individual award is still something nice to look back on.” 

A year after having three winners, the Giants were limited to one. Joe Panik was not even a finalist after winning for second base in 2016 and Buster Posey was likely dinged in the final balloting for catching just 99 games. Posey primarily played first base after Brandon Belt suffered a concussion in early August, and he lost out to surprise first-time winner Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Reds.

Crawford was at his usual position throughout, with the exception of an early stint on the DL to deal with a groin injury. If he suffered any ill effects after his return, it didn’t show. Crawford was third among qualified NL shortstops with nine Defensive Runs Saved, and he led the group in Ultimate Zone Rating, per FanGraphs.com. As always, Crawford mixed in the spectacular on a near-nightly basis. 

The other National League winners were: Barnhart, Paul Goldschmidt, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Marcell Ozuna, Ender Inciarte and Jason Heyward. Barnhart isn’t the only member of that list who could have benefited from the Giants’ lineups down the stretch. Belt finished as a clear leader in the SABR Defensive Index (which counts for 25 percent of the vote) among NL first baseman and he might have unseated Goldschmidt had he not suffered a concussion. 

With Crawford, Posey, Belt and Panik, the Giants have a defensive core that would be the envy of most teams. Team officials have made it clear over the past six weeks that upgrading the outfield defense is the offseason priority, and Crawford believes that continuing to rely on steady defense and pitching could help the Giants push past the 2017 disaster. On a conference call Tuesday, he noted that the Giants have a good head start with Johnny Cueto back in the fold alongside Madison Bumgarner. 

“Whether or not we improve on our defense by getting anybody we have to put this season behind us,” he said. “Defense is always a big deal and I think in our championship seasons we’ve played really good defense in the infield, behind the plate and in the outfield. If we can improve on that, I think we like our chances going into next year.”

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

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USATI

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

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AP

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down.