Giants

Pittsburgh-Giants: What to watch for

733376.jpg

Pittsburgh-Giants: What to watch for

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Get all your Saturday Giants coverage on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Giants Pregame Live starts the party at 5:30 p.m. Watch the Pirates and Giants game at 6:05 p.m. and Giants Postgame Live after the last out.

The Giants' uncharacteristic start to the 2012 season is picking up momentum. They've scored four or more runs in each of the first seven games, and their starting pitchers have thrown shutouts in two of the past four starts.One of those shutouts was authored by Barry Zito, who will take the mound tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 2 of the three-game bayside set.Here are some things to watch for in the Saturday evening game:Fending doubt: Barry Zito silenced naysayers with his first shutout since 2003 on Monday. All 27 outs go out the window when he takes the mound tonight as the contract-elicited magnifying glass focuses on Zito's every start.When the 13-year veteran can effectively locate his pitches and carve the edges of the strike zone, he is still a dangerous pitcher. But 1,687 strikeouts in, his stuff isn't electric enough to miss.Zito, 33, has faced the Pirates three times over the past three years with an ERA of ... 3.00.Watch your Hips: Carlie Morton is making his first start of the season, and his return from hip surgery. Morton is coming off his best season as a big leaguer. He was 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 29 starts in 2011."I've been ready," Morton told the Pirates' official website. "I'm really eager to get back out there."He's especially eager to face the Giants, who he's owns a 0.64 ERA against in two starts.But the 2012 Giants have shown signs they're breaking free from the offensive shackles of years past.Whole Melky: There are a number of changes to the Giants' 2012 lineup, but none more impressive than the infusion of Melky Cabrera into its heart.Cabrera has hit safely in each of the first seven games, and he has hit safely twice in five of them.He barely got his chin over the 200-hit mark last season with the Royals -- getting hits 200 and 201 in the antepenultimate game. In his eighth full season and a contract year, Cabrera looks to be gunning for the mark.Bay Pirates: The Giants haven't exactly been able to keep Pirates from patrolling San Francisco Bay at their leisure; Pittsburgh has the third-best winning percentage at AT&T Park among NL opponents. NL Team Win Record
Dodgers .519 56-52
Cubs .512 22-21
Pirates .474 18-20McClutchen: Andrew McCutchen -- like batters 1-through-8 in the Pirates' order -- was a non-factor in Friday's game, but he's out to a hot start this year.The Bucs' center fielder is batting .360 in the first seven games, and he sees Zito well. He owns a 4-for-9 career mark against the Giants' lefty.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

stanton-ap.jpg
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. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

ohtani-ap.jpg
AP

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."