Fantasy Articles

Not too long ago, the Giants were all about a slugging left-fielder who hit 40+ out of the park with ease despite walking in what seemed like half of his plate appearances. Today, there is no player on the team that is likely to hit more than 15 home runs. But the team offers some pitching, namely Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and fellow youngster Matt Cain.

The Best of the Bunch:

Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in 2008
Tim Lincecum (SP): While it is a matter of debate, Lincecum might well be the best pitcher in the game today.  However, since the Giants are a fairly dreadful team, he’s probably not the pitcher who’ll go off the board first in most serpentine drafting leagues.  In auction leagues, however, you’ll pay a premium for a guy who’s a lock to get 15+ saves, 220+ Ks and post excellent ERA and WHIP.   Barring injury he’s as close to a lock as you’ll find in the pitching category.

The Second Tier:

Matt Cain (SP): For all his talent -- and Cain has plenty -- he had a lousy 2008.  Part of it was bad luck and part was inconsistency.  That being said, Cain has enough upside that he could be the breakout pitcher of 2009.  Even if he fails to do that, he should improve and win 13-15 games while posting better peripherals in 2008.

The Third Tier:

Bengie Molina (C): Once again Molina seems a safe bet to be a top 10 fantasy catcher.  He’s not flashy but his production over the last three years has been solid.  He’s still got the ability to hit 15 plus home runs and hitting cleanup should offer him an outside chance at 100 RBIs but 80-90 is more likely.  At age 34 expect him to sit once to twice a week.

Question Marks, Cheap Buys and sleepers:

Randy Johnson (SP): Even at age 45 Johnson has some value.  He’ll win some games and put up some better than average peripherals but age and the potential for injury knock him out of even the third tier of fantasy pitchers.  He’s a fine pick in the later rounds and pitching in cavernous AT&T Park will only add to his value.  Just remember he doesn’t throw in the 90s anymore.

Edgar Renteria (SS): It would be charity to rank Renteria in the third tier at this point in his career but the 33-year-old still has the potential to be a productive player and hit close to .300 while putting up double digits in home runs and steals.  However, think 10-10 rather than the 15-30 that he might have posted before 2005.

Jonathan Sanchez (SP): Up until now Sanchez has been a fantastic source of strikeouts, if you could handle the brutal ERA and WHIP that went with it.  He has serious control issues and walks too many batters.  But if he ever puts it together he could turn into an upper tier pitcher.   Someone will gamble on him in all but the shallowest leagues and he’s certainly worth a buck or two because of his amazing upside.

Pablo Sandoval (1B/3B/C): The hype over Sandoval is extreme and maybe, just maybe he’ll live up to it.  His amazing cup of coffee last season (.345-3-24-24) has people drooling, especially since he already qualifies at catcher in many leagues.   Odds are he won’t keep that kind of pace, but if you miss out on a top catcher he probably will outperform at least the lower tier, and maybe most of the middle tier guys as well.   He’s listed here because he is no sure thing.

Fred Lewis (OF): Lewis may well be the best of the San Francisco outfielders in terms of fantasy value, but a lot of that value lies in his upside rather than what he’s accomplished in his short Major League career.  He’s got good speed, but how much he’ll get to use it is very much in question as he’s been floated as both a possible number three or number five hitter in the lineup.   Neither of those is a great spot to steal in and his power at this point probably precludes him reaching 20 home runs.  .275-16-80 with 18 steals is probably a slightly optimistic projection.

Randy Winn (OF): Winn’s best years are behind him but he’s still capable of contributing a solid average, double digit home runs and between 15-25 steals.   Hitting atop the order should help him score some runs too, but at 34 he could be on the edge of a downturn -- especially if he injures his legs, where most of his fantasy value resides.

Aaron Rowand (OF): What you saw from Rowand last year (.271-13-70-57-2) is probably all you really can expect from a player who, with the exception of 2007, was really very much a middle of the road type hitter.   While the 31-year-old does have some bounce back potential, the upside is limited and even if he did bounce back, hitting in AT&T Park wouldn’t help his power numbers much.  He’s a fourth, possibly even a fifth tier outfielder.

Travis Ishikawa (1B): It looks like a hot spring thus far has earned Ishikawa the opportunity to start at first base for the Giants.  He’s shown 15-20 home run power in the minors and has looked good in the spring.  While he’s not likely to outperform those power numbers, his average has a solid upward trend since 2005.  Think .270 and you won’t be disappointed, but he could hit much better than that.

Barry Zito (SP): Barry has gone from elite pitcher to fantasy non-factor.  Unless your league is extremely deep Zito is nothing more than waiver wire fodder.