Brandon Crawford

These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

SAN FRANCISCO -- It has been 10 years since we first saw Buster Posey take the field for the Giants at Oracle Park. That emotional moment in Bruce Bochy's office when Brandon Belt found out he made the team? That was eight years ago. Brandon Crawford is about to begin his eighth season as the everyday shortstop. 

In other words, this core has been around a long time, and that means some of these guys are moving up the franchise charts and coming up on statistical milestones. Here are some to keep an eye on in 2019: 

Buster Posey

As a full-time big leaguer, Posey has only had two seasons where he wasn't worth at least four Wins Above Replacement -- and he had season-ending surgery both times. With another four-WAR season, Posey will move well into the top 10 on the franchise list, all the way up to seventh. He's currently 12th with 41.3 career WAR, per Baseball-Reference. He has a long, long way to catch franchise leader Willie Mays (154.8)

Brandon Crawford

It's been four years since the shortstop hit 21 homers, and the Giants haven't had anyone reach 20 since.

But Crawford needs just 13 this season to become the 31st player in franchise history to hit 100 homers with the Giants. He has 14 each of the past two seasons. 

Posey vs. Crawford

These longtime friends like to take good-natured shots at each other when it comes to stats (usually when stolen bases are involved), so we should point out that Crawford (58) is just three intentional walks behind Posey (61). Crawford needs two free passes this year to pass Matt Williams and move into 10th place on the franchise list. 

The Brandons

They like to tease each other, too, so we should also point out that Belt enters the season with 199 career doubles and Crawford is at 198. Game on. 

Madison Bumgarner

With 110 career wins, Bumgarner has surpassed former teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. He needs 11 this season to move from 16th to 12th on the franchise's win list. Bumgarner will need an extension to get any higher than that. 

There's a nice round number at play, too. A couple of injury-marred years have bumped Bumgarner up to a 3.03 ERA. If he gets past 200 innings as he hopes and has an ERA in the 2.70 range, he would hit free agency with a career ERA that starts with the number two. That would surely please his agent. 

Bumgarner is also eighth on the franchise list with 1,591 strikeouts and he could move all the way to fourth, just ahead of Lincecum, if he spends the whole season in San Francisco. The left-hander needs 104 strikeouts to pass Cain (currently fifth) and 114 to pass Lincecum. 

Gerardo Parra

The next time Parra throws a runner out, he'll reach 100 assists for his career. He has 47 career assists in left, 38 in right and 14 in center.

If this feels to you like a rare arm on the Giants, you'd be correct. Over the last five seasons, the Giants rank 29th in the Majors with 103 outfield assists. Parra has 45 by himself during that time. 

Evan Longoria

If he matches last season's 54 RBI, Longoria will reach 1,000 for his career. He's also 23 homers from 300. Hitting that mark would be huge for the Giants offense. 

[RELATED: Giants open 2019 in middle of pack in MLB Power Rankings]

Bruce Bochy

Finally, there's the man who already has said this will be his final season. Bochy needs 74 wins to become the 10th to reach 2,000 as a manager. 

If the Giants can shake off the last two seasons and finish with a winning record (82-80), Bochy would tie Leo Durocher for 10th all-time in wins. It would obviously be pretty cool for him if he could get sole possession of that 10th spot, and given the state of today's game, it's unlikely that any future manager would ever knock Bochy out of the top 10. 

Finally, there's a goal that seems highly improbable. If the Giants win 90 games, Bochy would walk away with an even .500 record (2,016-2,016). Although if Bochy wins 90 games with this roster, Farhan Zaidi should probably talk him out of retirement. 

Giants projected to have top-10 defense in 2019 MLB season by this stat

Giants projected to have top-10 defense in 2019 MLB season by this stat

Offense is still a question mark with Opening Day two weeks away.

No, scratch that. Offense is still a concern with Opening Day two weeks away. But the Giants' defense can be one of the best in baseball in the 2019 season. 

By projected fielding runs, a stat created by FanGraphs, the Giants are projected to have the eighth-best defense in Major League Baseball. 

The Giants ranked 12th in MLB by defensive runs saved (DRS) with 32 last season. But by defensive runs above average (DEF), which measures a player's value relative to league average, San Francisco slid all the way down to 24th with -19.1 DEF. 

It all starts in the infield for the Giants. Buster Posey's health behind the plate will be a big factor in the team's defense. He's expected to be ready to catch on Opening Day, and still had 10 DRS behind the plate in 2018 while being limited to 105 games played.

Up the middle, the combination of Joe Panik at second base and Brandon Crawford at shortstop are back for another year. Crawford's run of three straight Gold Glove awards came to an end last season, while Panik last won the award in 2016.

When healthy, they still form one of the best defensive duos in baseball. 

And then there are the corners. In his first year with the Giants, three-time Gold Glove winner Evan Longoria recorded a career-high 15 errors, but he did have 7 DRS. At first base, Brandon Belt could have been in line for his first Gold Glove if it wasn't for injuries. He had a career-high 13 DRS in 2018. 

The biggest difference in the Giants' defense this season could be their outfield. Having a full season with Steven Duggar in center field should play dividends for San Francisco. He was worth 4 DRS in only 41 games. 

[RELATED: Giants poised to take another step forward with center field defense]

Plus, the signings of Cameron Maybin, Gerardo Parra and Drew Ferguson should secure solid defense as well. 

Once again, the Giants will likely struggle to put a crooked number on the scoreboard. But their defense can play a large role in them winning extra games.

MLB rumors: All-Star Game voting revamp could include Election Day

treinenap.jpg
AP

MLB rumors: All-Star Game voting revamp could include Election Day

MLB reportedly wants to change its All-Star voting, centered on an Election Day of its own. 

Here's how it would work, based on what sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan: Fans still would vote online this year, but the three players at every position (and in both leagues) with the most votes would be on the ballot the day of the All-Star election. Think of it as a political primary, albeit less important. 

At that point, fans would have one day to vote for the starters at every position. There's no word yet whether the system would allow for early or absentee voting, but that probably won't be necessary, considering how fan bases mobilize on a dime to stuff the All-Star ballot box each and every year.

So, how would this have changed the fortunes of the Giants and A's in the 2018 Midsummer Classic? First, let's examine where players from both teams stood in MLB's final ballot update before voting closed, assuming the top three at each position would have advanced to the "run-off."

Giants catcher Buster Posey did not end up starting in 2018, and was passed by Cubs backstop Wilson Contreras in the final days. That still could have happened on "Election Day," but Posey would have been in the top three. San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford would have been the front-runner headed into a run-off. 

None of the A's All-Stars were starters in 2018, but we'd imagine Matt Chapman might have something to say about that in 2019. Two voting deadlines only could help his chances to earn his first All-Star start. 

[RELATED: Five surprise candidates who could make A's Opening Day roster]

The proposal is part of a larger push to revamp the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association, sources told Passan. They're hoping it leads to more social-media activity around the game, and to a more exciting voting process.

As long as they don't opt for a slogan that sounds like "Rock the Vote," there shouldn't be much confusion in 2020.