San Francisco Giants: The 2020 Season Was a Success

San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants finished the season with a 29-31 record, tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the final playoff spot in the National League. Unfortunately for the Giants, the tie-breaker favored the Brewers, so the Giants are on the outside looking in.

The Giants had every opportunity to make the playoffs, but several blown games they should have won cost them.  Those brutal losses came back to haunt the Giants.  If the Giants had won just one more game, they would have faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs. Win or lose, it would have been great fun to see the Giants play their arch-rivals.  Alas, it was not meant to be.

Gabe Kapler deserves a lot of credit for keeping the team together during some tough stretches and their resilience was quite admirable. However, Kapler also showed his flaws, especially with his poor management of the bullpen. In addition, his constant juggling of players in different positions early in the season hurt the Giants’ defense and cost them some games.

Successful Season

Nevertheless, the 2020 season was a success for the Giants. In the Spring, it appeared that there would be no baseball at all, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Then, once it was decided that Major League Baseball would play a shortened season, there was always the fear that it could be cut short if too many players and teams came down with the virus.  That we even had a season at all, was a huge positive.

Looking at the Giants’ roster before the season, nobody would have predicted the Giants would contend for a playoff berth. Then, the team opened the season with an 8-16 record over their first 24 games.  It looked like a dreadful year was unfolding, yet somehow, the Giants turned their season around, winning 21 of their last 36 games.

The fact that the Giants had a chance to make the playoffs and their season went down to the final game, the final inning, and the final at-bat, was truly remarkable.  There were so many great contributions and players who stood out to give the Giants hope.

Offensive Production Exceeded Expectations

The offensive productivity was a very pleasant surprise.  The San Francisco Giants were led by Willie Mac Award winner Mike Yastrzemski, who also emerged as a respected team leader. Alex Dickerson, Brandon Belt, Donovan Solano, Wilmer Flores, and Brandon Crawford also made big contributions at the plate.  All of these players should be back and the addition of Buster Posey will also improve the offense.

The Giants averaged 4.98 runs-per-game, which was fifth in the National League. Their 81 home runs ranked seventh and their .263 batting average was fourth. The Giants’ OPS of .785 was well above the league average and ranked them fifth. It has been many years since the Giants have had offensive production like this, especially since the team moved into Oracle Park, some 20 years ago.

The Pitching Must Be Upgraded

The starting pitching was led by Kevin Gausman, who was easily the Giants’ top starter. He threw 59 and two-thirds innings, allowed only 50 hits while striking out a team-leading 79 batters. His ERA of 3.62 and 1.106 WHIP were also outstanding. Drew Smyly also emerged as a reliable starter for the Giants. Unfortunately, an injury early on cost him several starts. Both of these pitchers will be free agents, so it will be incumbent on team President Farhan Zaidi to sign them or get solid replacements.

Johnny Cueto, who is due to make $21 million in 2021, has one year left on his contract. He was very inconsistent this season and if the Giants are not in the playoff hunt next year, look for him to be traded by the trade deadline.  Tyler Anderson did a solid job replacing the injured Jeff Samardzija, but Logan Webb faltered as the season progressed.

Overall, the relief pitching did far better than expected with only one proven veteran, Tony Watson, on the staff.  Unfortunately, some meltdowns by Trevor Gott early in the season and Sam Coonrod late in the year cost the Giants several games, which ultimately was a major reason why the Giants missed the playoffs.

Improving the Giants’ pitching staff will need to be Zaidi’s top priority this winter. In addition to two quality starters, the Giants need a quality closer. Adding a closer will give the bullpen more clearly defined roles, which was a problem this past season.

The Future Is Looking Brighter

The San Francisco Giants have to be pleased with some of their young talents that got significant playing time. Mauricio Dubon emerged as a solid center fielder and improved throughout the year. Expect continued development from Dubon as this was his first season playing in center. In addition, Dubon has only 263 at-bats at the big league level, so his offense and understanding of the game should also improve.

Joey Bart is another young player that showed promise for the future. He was forced into duty this year and at times struggled. Nevertheless, the experience he gained will help him in the years ahead. Bart will likely start the 2021 season in the minors to get more seasoning and play every day since Posey will be back.

When you consider the very low expectations for the Giants prior to the season, this was a good year. For the Giants to contend for the playoffs has to be considered an overachievement. Although missing the playoffs hurts, 2020 was indeed a success for the Giants.

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