Giants

These four Giants can hit 20 home runs in 2019, Mike Krukow predicts

These four Giants can hit 20 home runs in 2019, Mike Krukow predicts

Only one team stood in the way of the Giants earning the coveted crown of fewest home runs in all of baseball last season.

Thanks a lot, Marlins. 

Not one Giant finished the season with 20 home runs. Evan Longoria led the team with 16 long balls in 2018, which was a career-low for the third baseman. 

With spring training wrapping up, it's time to turn the page and move on to 2019. And broadcaster Mike Krukow is optimistic there can be a power resurgence in San Francisco. 

“Well, I think Evan Longoria is going to hit twenty plus,” Krukow said Wednesday on KNBR. “Last year he hit sixteen and missed a month. He was so out of whack the first couple of months of the season, after coming over to a new team after spending the first ten years of his career with one team. I think he’s in the comfort zone now, he’s had a great spring, he’s in great shape.”

Longoria, 33, is off to a strong start this spring. Going into Thursday's slate of games, he's batting .324 with two home runs. After getting a full season of the National League under his belt, the three-time All-Star could be a candidate for a bounce-back year.

Speaking of Belt ... Krukow believes the first baseman can finally crack the 20-homer mark, too. 

"We keep waiting for Belt, he’s always had a chance to hit twenty," Krukow said. "He’s having a great spring and swinging the bat well right now, but when he got to camp, he kept the same weight as last year but with six percent less body fat."

Injuries have limited Belt to only 104 and 112 games the last two seasons, where he's knocked 18 and 14 home runs. The power has always been there, though his health has been a concern. 

Now that Buster Posey is presumably healthy after hip surgery, Krukow sees the catcher flirting with 20 home runs for the first time since he hit 22 in 2014. The big name to watch, however, is Mac Williamson. 

"I think those three guys can do it, but wouldn’t it be something if Mac Williamson got into that same groove as last summer? There’s a guy who can put up thirty," Krukow said.

[RELATED: Brandon Belt reveals how he accidentally cut off half of his eyebrow]

Williamson might have the most raw power on the Giants' roster. A concussion cut down what should have been the best year of his career last season. While he's still competing to win a starting job in left field, a hot Williamson can produce some big power numbers.

The Giants has struggled mightily hitting the ball over the wall for years now. Is 2019 the year it's bombs away?

Until proven otherwise, there's always reasons for optimism.

MLB rumors: Mark Kotsay entered Giants manager interviews as favorite

MLB rumors: Mark Kotsay entered Giants manager interviews as favorite

As the Giants watch the World Series from home, their search for a new manager continues. Replacing a legend like Bruce Bochy won't be easy, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi can't wait forever. 

Interviews have begun, and the favorite coming into the process might be someone who would just have to switch sides in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly reported Monday that "word around the industry is that [Mark] Kotsay entered this process as a favored candidate." One source also told Baggarly that he would be surprised if the Giants didn't hire Kotsay.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic first reported on Oct. 9 that the Giants would interview Kotsay, who currently serves as the A's quality control coach.

Kotsay, 43, had a 17-year MLB career where he spent four seasons -- 2004 through '07 -- as an outfielder for the A's. Zaidi was a baseball operations analyst in Oakland when Kotsay played for the A's. 

Kotsay retired after the 2013 season and became a special assistant in the San Diego Padres' front office the next season. He then served as the Padres' hitting coach for the 2015 season and was the A's bench coach in 2016. 

[RELATED: Could MadBum's ugly road stats hurt him in free agency?]

The Giants already interviewed in-house candidates Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus. The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman and John Shea reported Monday that San Francisco also interviewed Cubs first base coach Wil Venable on Friday.

Other reported candidates include Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Madison Bumgarner is entering free agency at a curious time in his career. The longtime Giants ace has built a legendary reputation, but plenty of question marks also surround the 30-year-old.

Bumgarner proved he's still a workhorse after missing time the previous two seasons with freak injuries. His 34 starts were tied for the MLB lead, and his 207 2/3 innings pitched ranked second in the NL.

But while looking at Bumgarner's stats from this past season, one thing stands out that could hurt him in free agency and actually help the Giants if they want to bring back the left-hander.

MadBum's home-road splits were staggering in 2019. He was a completely different pitcher in front of the home crowd at Oracle Park, compared to pitching away from San Francisco.

Here are Bumgarner's home stats this past season, compared to when he pitched on the road.

Home: 19 GS, 6-2, 2.93 ERA, 122 2/3 IP, 40 ER, 15 HR, 120 SO, 21 BB, 0.93 WHIP, 5.71 SO/W
Away: 15 GS, 3-7, 5.29 ERA, 85 IP, 50 ER, 15 HR, 83 SO, 22 BB, 1.41 WHIP, 3.77 SO/W

Oracle Park is known as a pitcher's dream. In fact, the Giants' home park was the least favorable for offenses this season by Park Factors, per ESPN. The 11-year veteran used that his advantage, but that luxury didn't follow him on the road.

Bumgarner allowed the same amount of homers in four fewer road games as he did at home. He also walked one more batter and allowed five more hits -- 98 on the road, compared to 93 at home. For someone with a lot of mileage on his arm and his fastball declining in velocity, that's certainly alarming.

[RELATED: Astros call possible Giants target Cole 'West Coast guy']

As a pitcher who's never tested the open market and has spent his entire career in a pitcher's paradise, these numbers will be looked at closely by front offices around the league this offseason.

Bumgarner figures to join Gerrit Cole, among others, as the most coveted starting pitchers in free agency. So, while his road numbers could help the Giants in keeping him in San Francisco, they also could prevent the veteran from signing the hefty contract he likely desires.