Giants

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before you start reading this, knock on wood a couple dozen times. 

The Giants have stayed healthy this spring, and that's the first step towards being better than they were the last two years. 

But that could change at any moment. After all, Madison Bumgarner got hurt in his final start last spring. Whether it's next week or next month, the Giants will need to start dipping into their depth, and while this has been a remarkably quiet offseason, they have done a decent job of upgrading the back ends of the active and 40-man rosters. 

The 2018 Giants were bad, but the 2018 Sacramento River Cats were also bad, which gave the big league club little hope of finding adequate replacements when injuries popped up, or regulars became ineffective. 

That's one area where this year's team should be better, and if you're looking for a way Farhan Zaidi can automatically pick up a few wins in Year 1, look no further than last year's roster. This is some of what he has had to replace:

Gorkys Hernandez: Despite the homers, he had a .656 OPS in 451 plate appearances
Hunter Pence: He is beloved, but posted a .226/.258/.332 line in 248 plate appearances
Gregor Blanco: Also a #ForeverGiant, but he hit .217/.262/.317 in 203 plate appearances 
Austin Jackson: Had a .604 OPS in 59 games before he was salary-dumped
Kelby Tomlinson: Great dude, fan favorite ... slugged .264 in 152 plate appearances
Chase d'Arnaud: Great dude, great with fans ... had a .618 OPS in 100 plate appearances

The pitching staff was better, but the Giants still had a lot of appearances Zaidi believes can be more effectively replaced. Notably, Hunter Strickland, who was non-tendered, had a 3.97 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 49 appearances and Pierce Johnson had a 5.56 ERA in 37 appearances. This year's bullpen is deeper and the rotation is deep enough that Andrew Suarez won't be in it to start the year. 

Of all the players listed above, Hernandez (0.5) was the only one with a positive WAR. The rest combined for negative four Wins Above Replacement.  

[RELATED: How will Giants narrow bullpen options before Opening Day?]

Will Yangervis Solarte make better use of those spare infield at-bats? Will Travis Bergen or Trevor Gott be better than the relievers who were let go? Will Mac Williamson, Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin greatly outperform Hernandez, Pence and Blanco? 

We'll see, but the standard set in 2018 was not at all a high one, and improvement from the complementary pieces on this year's roster would help the Giants inch a bit closer to meaningful September baseball. 

MLB power rankings 2019: Every team's standing one month into season

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MLB power rankings 2019: Every team's standing one month into season

As demoralizing as a bad stretch of baseball can be in April, you're never far out of it in the season's first month. 

The Red Sox got off to an awful start, but a hot weekend has them back within shouting distance of the Rays and Yankees. A winning streak from the Astros pulled them just about even with the Mariners, the hottest team around a couple weeks ago. The Dodgers lost six straight and then won six straight, getting back atop the NL West. 

There will be more separation in the coming weeks -- and teams like the Giants need to be careful not to fall eight or nine back -- but for now most of the division races are still closely grouped.

[RELATED: Posey ends longest homer drought of career, powers Giants to win]

Here's a rundown of all 30 teams. 

VIEW MLB POWER RANKINGS HERE

Watch Giants end skid on perfect relay throw home to beat Pirates

Watch Giants end skid on perfect relay throw home to beat Pirates

What looked like a possible nightmare turned into triumph for the Giants on Sunday. 

With two outs and the Giants leading the Pirates 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, former San Francisco top draft prospect Bryan Reynolds stepped to the plate for Pittsburgh and looked to stay hot against his former franchise.

Reynolds rocketed a line drive down the right-field line off closer Will Smith. The rest was perfection for the Giants and pure ugliness for the Pirates.

Steven Duggar hit second baseman Joe Panik with a perfect relay throw as the Pirates' Jung Ho Kang raced around the bases. It's safe to say Kang should have stayed at third. Instead, he was out by a mile while trying to tie up the score, as Panik's throw to catch Buster Posey easily beat him to the plate.

[RELATED: Watch Posey end homer drought with three-run dinger]

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Giants, who are 2-4 on their current road trip. They head to Toronto for two more games away from San Francisco.