After a 100 loss season in 2017, the 2018 San Francisco Giants aimed higher but only managed to win 11 more games. The Giants missed the playoffs for the second straight season but the end of the season has put the team in a tricky spot with no clear direction as they head into 2019.
Coming into the season, the Giants made two major moves: acquiring nine-year veteran Andrew McCutchen and 10-year veteran Evan Longoria after failing to land Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. Both acquisitions were made with the goal of making the postseason but it only made the Giants’ problem worse.
They entered the season as the oldest team in the National League with an average player age of 30.15 years old. The average age in Major League Baseball entering the 2018 season was 28.91 years of age according to USA Today. This has been a problem for the Giants for some years. With a farm system that lacks depth outside of their first round draft pick, acquiring catcher Joey Bart and outfielder Heliot Ramos was the only way that this team would improve their poor offensive numbers from 2017 and possibly make an October run.
McCutchen and Longoria got off to slow starts, and with the regular cast of Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford still intact, only Belt produced early for the team, with 24 hits and walking 14 times in April.
Starting pitching was another disappointment for the 2018 Giants since Ty Blach was the Opening Day starter in place for Madison Bumgarner, who fractured his left pitching hand in his final Spring Training start. Blach, along with new signee Derek Holland, second-year player Chris Stratton, and veteran Johnny Cueto made up the starting rotation. However, with Cueto out due to Tommy John surgery, the top three of Bumgarner, Cueto and Jeff Samardzija were replaced by Holland, Stratton and rookie call-ups, Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher, Ivan Rodriguez, was the one to make a mark and pitched his name into the Rookie of the Year conversation with a 2.81 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 19 starts.
Injuries also plagued position players throughout the season as seven players had a season-ending surgery.
Buster Posey was playing with a bad hip which made him miss the All Star Game, where he was voted to start the game. Pablo Sandoval, who was having a good role as a power bat and spot starter, had a hamstring injury that sidelined him. And after being called up, Steven Duggar was limited to only 41 games after separating his shoulder in late August. With the team being out of playoff contention towards the end of August, Andrew McCutchen was traded to the New York Yankees as it was thought he wouldn’t resign after a lackluster performance from the team.
Overall, the 2018 San Francisco Giants were a very frustrating team to watch for many reasons. The offense was very inconsistent and could never get big hits when they needed them. The bullpen continued to give up multiple leads throughout the season with 30 blown saves. And even when the starting pitching could have quality starts, the offense would never score enough to protect the lead or even guarantee a victory.
This team was never going to contend in the NL West with the likes of the Diamondbacks, the Rockies and the Dodgers all bunched up at the top of the division, even with the $200 million payroll.
Looking toward the 2019 season, the Giants will ultimately have to figure out their problems during this offseason, and it starts with hiring a new general manager as long-time Giants official Bobby Evans was fired before the end of the season.
Should the team go after Washington Nationals player Bryce Harper in free agency? Just like Stanton last year, Harper looks to win now and the product that the Giants put on the field might not be appealing enough to lure the biggest superstar in the National League. The question for the Giants now is: Will the fanbase get onboard with a rebuild and how will the starting lineup look in 2019 on Opening Day against the Padres?