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2022 MLB season preview: San Francisco Giants

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

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Consistency is what makes a baseball team special. Winning a World Series is the ultimate goal and the thing people remember, but I refer to the playoffs as the “Tournament of Variance.” Anything can happen in small sample sizes, even with the league’s best teams.

With the San Francisco Giants, they had the unfortunate outcome of winning 107 games and being forced to play a team that won 106 games in the wild-card round. The series went five games and ended on an extremely questionable check-swing call, which was a damn shame. The Giants deserved a better fate.

A franchise since 1883, first as the New York Gothams and then as the New York Giants until they moved to the Bay Area in 1957, last year’s team set the record with 107 wins. The playoffs lasted just five games. To be fair, it could have been worse. The 1993 Giants went 103-59 and didn’t even make the playoffs because the Braves went 104-58 and there were no wild-card teams.

Projection systems are signaling an enormous fall for the Giants, as PECOTA has San Francisco down for just 78 wins; FanGraphs’ projections say 84-78. The team’s season win total is 85.5. All of them can’t be wrong, right?

2022 VSiN MLB Betting Guide

Offense

The Giants ranked fourth in wOBA last season at .329. They posted a 108 wRC + , which was fifth-best in the majors. Remember that wRC + is adjusted for park factor and AT&T Park has long been thought of as a pitcher’s park. The three most recent offensive seasons from the Giants have changed that narrative. This is a team that has mastered the art of hitting and the front office has a lot to do with it.

President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi has accomplished a lot in his career, and this Giants run is his magnum opus. Zaidi didn’t inherit a bare cupboard, but the team has become so much more advanced in the analytics department and have found a lot of edges at the margins. I don’t care how crazy it is that the Giants won more than 90 games for the first time since 2012, seemingly out of nowhere -- there is nothing fluky about outscoring teams by 210 runs. The Giants held opponents to just 594 runs and scored more than 800 for the first time since 2004. That team had Barry Bonds and his .609 on-base percentage.

The Giants apply a batting philosophy of selective aggression. They walked at the third-highest clip in baseball but also finished second to the Blue Jays in home runs. Zaidi took over at the start of 2019 and his changes really took hold in 2020 and 2021. In 2018, the Giants had a fly-ball percentage (FB%) of 33.3%. In 2019, that number jumped to 34.6%. In 2020, 37.5% of batted balls were hit in the air. Last season, the team’s FB% was 38.5%.

Along with hitting more fly balls, the Giants started to pull the ball more. They went from a 38.3% Pull% in 2018 to 39.2% in 2019, 42.9% in 2020 and 40.5% in 2021.

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