Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: San Francisco Giants
Who is Hunter Pence?
Amazing to think many drafters still don't know the answer after his six MLB seasons. Visions of 30-homer seasons should have already exited your dreams. He needed the help of hitter-friendly home digs and a history of fast starts merely to come close to that. Safe to say AT&T Park doesn't facilitate many long-distance calls. Pence's high worm-burner percentages also keep him grounded.
For someone with his heavy pattern of dirt-denting, he doesn't make much contact, and last year's connection rate was abysmal. Though he boasts a track record of run production and holds a favorable drive-in and plate-crossing situation, relying chiefly on the team-dependent stats endangers upside. Steals aren't cemented, either.
Captain Underpants should fly closer to his career clip of .285, but he'll need to scrape that to justify landing on a mixed squad in the first four or so rounds. Especially as a Giant, he's filler, not a foundation, despite what early mockers have said. Unless he radically alters his approach or lands in a hitter haven sometime this summer, he's in line to disappoint overpaying devotees.
How can Tim Lincecum recover?
A horrific combination of faulty mechanics, physical maladies and a timid approach plagued Big Time Timmy Jim. A shaky fastball in spring training paved the way for a mostly lost campaign.
Lincecum's dominance, on the surface, remained similar to the norms from his illustrious career. Of course, his notable velocity dip and the increase in base runners allowed say his K/9 was inflated. He nibbled for most of the year, so much of that was getting sticks to chase; his on-the-black tests were easier to pass, yet his reputation still induced many empty hacks.
Indeed, that ugly 4.35 control rate shows he hardly overpowered his enemies. He showed fleeting signs of late-season improvement but ran out of gas at times, as well. Imagine if he had to face a designated hitter every day.
Chris Haft, the Giants' MLB.com scribe, noted that sources from enemy organizations remarked about how slender Lincecum looked this past year - that's saying something for the typically rail-like tosser. Haft opined that Lincecum's leg drive might've been less powerful than in the past, which, along with his dollar-scooping contortions, can do just as much damage to his well-being as an injury can.
Lincecum has been prescribed an offseason conditioning regiment focusing on shoulder build-up and, perhaps more pertinently, weight gain to bolster his body. They hope a recharged vessel and a focused approach will produce sustained (if not vintage) giddy-up on his four-seamer and extra bite on his off-speed stuff. In turn, he'd pitch with classic authority.
Entering a contract year, the formerly long-locked 28-year-old will start off on the starting rubber, but that October brilliance in a mid-game mold lurks in the back of Bruce Bochy's brain. Luckily, these doubts, along with the closed-minded "last year's stats" axiom of your opponents, will lower the cost on the former Cy Young trophy holder.
Even at his worst, he still fanned an attractive amount of hitters. By translating his October output, he could wind up a steal at his clearance sticker even if he merely sniffs his track record.
If Bochy keeps the faith, would you pass up this potential as your mixed team's fourth SP?
Where does Sergio Romo rank among closers?
First of all ... is he really a closer? In a vacuum, the postseason hero would be one of the steadiest, most dynamic relievers in baseball. We hate to break the bad news, but he's hardly a rock in his newfound track.
Bochy already reiterated his desire to have other potential saviors help the soon-to-be 30-year-old, who, to the detriment of his arm, dishes out more sliders than White Castle. This staff will continue making a concerted effort to conserve his beef. His primary pitch has chomped on many an elbow (including former Bay beard Brian Wilson). Romo's approach, which also leans on a soft, dancing fastball, doesn't lend to him giving up his main course.
Sound like a recipe for a yearlong job?
The logical understudy remains Jeremy Affeldt, one of the latest exploiters of the bullish southpaw sub market. Justifying that contract will involve at least occasional fire drenches. Lefty lurker Javier Lopez and former interim stopper Santiago Casilla are useful enough to continue as part of a committee.
Don't forget Wilson and that Lincecum guy.
Romo's jaw-dropping numbers shouldn't hide the health and role risks surrounding its owner. Anyone who believes he's worth a second closer spot in dual-universe setups will, as most do with belly bombers, regret that order.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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