The “even-year magic” seemed to wear off for the San Francisco Giants in 2016, in a season that could be told as a story of two halves.
San Francisco made it all the way to the National League Division Series before getting bounced by the eventual-world-champion Chicago Cubs in four games. Before that, a flashback of the 2014 postseason took place at Citi Field as Madison Bumgarner threw a complete game against the New York Mets in the Wild Card Game, out-dueling Noah Syndergaard.
San Francisco Giants 2016 Season Recap
Before the 2016 season began, Baseball Prospectus’ algorithm PECOTA, picked the Giants to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. That is exactly what happened, but in an unexpected way. San Francisco entered the All-Star Break with a 57-33 record (the best in the sport) and a 6.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The second half of the season was something out of an alternate universe. Bruce Bochy’s club proceeded to go 30-42 and finish four games behind the Dodgers in the division. The saving grace came on the last day of the regular season as the Giants beat said Dodgers 7-1 to clinch a spot in the Wild Card Game against the Mets.
Giants 2016 Season Notes
Bumgarner is still Mad Bum
Bumgarner started a career-high 34 games in 2016, finishing 15-9 with a career-low 2.74 ERA. He threw 200 innings for the sixth-straight season while striking out 200 (a career-high of 251) for the third-consecutive year. He secured his fourth-straight NL All-Star selection and hit three home runs. Not much else to say.
The Baby Giraffe
Brandon Belt made his case to be considered in the upper echelon of MLB first basemen for the second-consecutive year in 2016. The 28-year-old lefty hit .275/.394/.474 with 17 homers, 82 RBIs and 41 doubles.
Not a One-Man Show
The Giants’ rotation finally saw the depth behind Bumgarner it had been lacking in past seasons. The free agent acquisitions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija certainly paid off. Cueto finished the season 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA. He also led baseball with five complete games and eclipsed 200 innings for the third time in his career. Samardzija experienced some struggles in the second half, but still managed to keep his ERA at 3.81 and throw over 200 innings.
General Manager Bobby Evans took a page from former GM Brian Sabean’s book and shipped off young talent for experienced veterans down the stretch. The first deal came with Milwaukee, sending 2015 first-round RHP Phil Bickford (No. 50 Baseball America prospect) and catcher Andrew Susac to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith. Smith threw 18.1 innings with a 2.95 ERA with the Giants after the trade.
The second deal came with a higher price. The Giants acquired lefty Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays for young infielder Matt Duffy and prospects Lucius Fox (No. 4 Giants prospect in 2015, according to Baseball America) and Michael Santos. Moore was 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 starts with the Giants after the trade.
The last notable piece acquired by Evans was third baseman Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins. Nunez, a 2016 AL All-Star, eventually replaced Duffy, stealing 13 bags in 50 games with San Francisco.
Pence’s Nagging Injuries
After appearing in 324 games between 2013 and 2014, Hunter Pence has only appeared in 158 over the last two seasons. A healthy Pence would have gone a long way toward adding consistency to the Giants’ lineup, which finished 2016 ranked seventh in the NL in runs scored.