Brandon Crawford

Five Giants takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including Yasiel Puig

Five Giants takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including Yasiel Puig

Baseball-starved fans are watching hours of classic games, playing MLB The Show and tweeting through it all while the season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. We've all gone a little stir crazy, and it's probably not a good sign that Netflix is on our emergency contacts list now.

Through the power of technology, though, baseball still is being played ... kind of. Baseball-Reference is using Out of the Park Baseball 21, a baseball simulation game, and posting stats, box scores and standings every day. Through one week of this simulated season, there's a lot to digest for the Giants. 

San Francisco has a 3-3 record in the simulation, good for third place in the NL West but only 1.5 games back of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants likely would be just fine with a .500 record after opening the season on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers and D-backs. There's a whole lot more to unravel here, though. 

Here are five takeaways from a one-week simulation to start of the Giants' 2020 season. 

Yasiel Puig ... is a Giant 

Your wish (nightmare?) has been granted. That's right, former Dodger and Giants nemesis, Yasiel Puig, now is wearing orange and black.

In this world, Puig has played two games with the Giants, likely making him a recent free-agent signing. Through two games, Puig only has one hit in seven at-bats, but he made it count. 

The Giants took down the D-backs 7-5 on Wednesday, and Puig played a big part. Trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning, Puig hit a solo shot off Hector Rendon. The Giants then scored five runs in the ninth inning for a wild comeback win. 

As recently as three weeks ago, the Giants reportedly have shown interest in Puig. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported last month that the Miami Marlins have offered Puig a contract, and the other team interested in him was the Giants

Puig, 29, has an .839 career OPS at Oracle Park and has hit five homers in the pitcher-friendly ballpark. Past bad blood be damned, Puig would fit a need for the Giants as a right-handed power bat.

Giants find their closer 

One of the biggest question marks this spring was at the back of the Giants' bullpen. Who would Gabe Kapler name as the team's closer? It's not that simple.

Will Smith is gone after signing with the Atlanta Braves this offseason. One obvious candidate could be Tony Watson, but he dealt with shoulder tightness in camp. The simulation has Watson appearing in two games. However, he isn't the Giants' closer. 

That title belongs to Trevor Gott. The Giants love Gott's versatility and he did close games in college and the minor leagues. He also has one save in his big league career. 

So far, so good. Gott has thrown two scoreless innings and recorded two saves in this simulated season. He surely will have an important role once the real season eventually begins, and it will be interesting to see how Kapler uses the right-hander.

Brandon Crawford stays hot

In reality, Crawford currently is spending his time playing basketball video games and creating a wild bracket for Giants fans on Twitter. But he surely would love how this simulation views the start to his season.

Crawford was crushing the ball this spring. The veteran shortstop had a .391 batting average with one home run and a 1.005 OPS. He has been even better in the regular season, too. Through six games, Crawford is 10-for-23, good for a .435 batting average and 1.049 OPS. He also has one home run and four RBI. 

This would be huge for the veteran shortstop. Crawford took a big step back last season, batting only .228 with a lowly .654 OPS. There's a chance he loses some at-bats this year against left-handed pitchers, but not if he hits like the simulation suggests. 

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How has Buster Posey hit? 

This was the first offseason in years where Posey didn't have to worry about an injury or recovering from a procedure. And it showed in spring training. 

Posey ramped up his usual workload during camp and played in 10 games before spring training shut down. He showed shades of his younger self, too, by batting .455 (10-for-22) with one homer and a 1.206 OPS. The simulation took notice. 

While the former NL MVP hasn't gone deep yet, he does have three doubles, three RBI and a .333 batting average. Posey has two more years remaining on his contract and can't imagine playing for another team. Hitting like this will only help his desires.

[RELATED: Looking back at 19 homers Giants have hit off of Kershaw]

Surprise starter

With the loss of Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have a massive hole in their rotation that nobody truly can fill. But they certainly have options. The No. 5 starter remained a bit of a mystery well into spring, though, especially after Tyler Beede underwent Tommy John surgery.

It seemed clear the Giants' first four starters would be Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. After that, it was a bit of an unknown. And this simulation has quite the wild card: Andrew Triggs. 

This surely would be surprising, and it didn't turn out to be a great idea in this alternate reality, too. Triggs, 31, didn't even pitch in the majors last year and his five appearances this spring all were out of the bullpen. In his one start, the simulation has him lasting only three innings while allowing four earned runs and walking three batters. 

Logan Webb, a candidate for the rotation, has pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and has three strikeouts out of the bullpen. The 23-year-old seems like the ideal candidate as the Giants' fifth starter, but anything can happen with Kapler and his plethora of coaches running a completely new show.

Gabe Kapler says Brandon Crawford created self in NBA video game during hiatus

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USATSI

Gabe Kapler says Brandon Crawford created self in NBA video game during hiatus

Gabe Kapler's first spring training as Giants manager was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 44-year-old is using virtual methods to get some reps in with the start of the season indefinitely delayed.

Kapler told KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" on Monday night that he is playing "MLB The Show 20," using the game to sharpen and hone his managerial instincts, simulating games in around five minutes while making "all the decisions" in each contest. Giants hitting coach Justin Viele, meanwhile, is using the game to study tendencies of opposing pitchers.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford also is visualizing success, albeit in another sport.

"I played one game, and Crawford was the star of the game," Kapler said. "So I took a picture of the screen, and ... I sent it over to Craw, and so Craw looked at it, and he sent a picture of him playing an NBA video game where he was one of the players and dropped 71 points and nine assists."

It's fair to assume that Crawford, a Pleasanton native and a lifelong Warriors fan, put himself on Golden State in whichever game he was playing (our money's on NBA 2K20). That wouldn't have been a record in a real Warriors game but not a franchise one, considering Wilt Chamberlain scored at least 72 points an astonishing five times, including his NBA-record 100-point game back when the Dubs played in Philadelphia.

[RELATED: Why Timmy's first no-hitter was so unusual for Kruk, Kuip]

This, of course, leads to even more questions. Did Crawford's create-a-player have photorealistic hair? What position did he play? Were his in-game traits the same as -- or as close to it as possible -- in "MLB: The Show?" Was he still a UCLA alumnus in the game, or would he disappoint NBC Sports Bay Area's Brian Witt by not virtually representing the Bruins?

The NBA reportedly will hold an "NBA 2K20" tournament Friday night featuring player representatives from each team. Is it too late for the Warriors to choose Crawford?

What Giants' Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford are streaming during hiatus

What Giants' Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford are streaming during hiatus

The sports’ cancellations and shutdowns have been the perfect time to get creative with ways to stay busy during this unprecedented time. 

Most of us are no strangers to binging shows and movies, or adding music to our playlists, but what are the players doing along those lines in order to pass the time? With MLB adding more time to its original Opening Day delay, here’s what Giants’ players Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence are listening to and watching.

For Pence, he’s very diverse in his picks, which is helpful. He has something for everyone, as he told SFGate recently.

Pixar’s “Onward,” is one of the latest movies he’s indulged in while social distancing. On-demand, of course. He absolutely loved it.

In relation, he admitted he recently watched “Trolls,” saying not only was it a feel-good movie, but the music gave the same great vibes that could lift spirits. 

For something a tad bit more serious, Pence recommended Dr. Joe Dispenza’s YouTube channel. He complimented what Dr. Dispenza had to say with talks ranging from quantum physics and “how to evolve your consciousness.”

You can check out the rest of his recommendations here.

For Crawford, his music choices during this time are also diversified.

His top-ten songs to listen to during this time, range from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” to a Dierks Bentley tune, and even “Better Days,” by The Goo Goo Dolls.

Why that Goo Goo Dolls jam? It was all about reminding yourself things will get better.

Crawford also added the Kygo remix of the Whitney Houston classic, “Higher Love.”

[RELATED: Brantly gets creative with workouts during MLB halt]

“Especially in times like these, we all need to remember His higher love,” he wrote in the Giants’ official blog. “Even when things aren’t looking good, He has a plan for us all. (Also it’s a catchy, upbeat song.)”

It is indeed.