2019 San Francisco Giants Season Preview: How far has Madison Bumgarner fallen?

Editor’s note: Baseball is back and Yahoo Sports is previewing all 30 teams over the next month. This year’s previews will focus on fantasy and reality, as our MLB news staff and our fantasy baseball crew come together to assess each team before opening day. Next up, the San Francisco Giants.

The San Francisco Giants are stuck between two competing ideas — embracing the rebuild and spinning off any valuable members of their championship core or trying to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres in the NL West.

It seemed pretty obvious what the Giants should do after their 89-loss season in 2018. Without a bright farm system, this Giants team screams tear down. They did bring in a new president of baseball operations in ex-Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi. And then they chased Bryce Harper. But as opening day approaches, they’re not in tremendously better than shape than when last season ended. They only thing they got was more healthy.

While Giants fans can make a compelling case for adding Harper, it still would have seemed a bit like their last couple offseasons, where they’ve acted boldly in an effort to keep their winning tradition going. These Giants are now saddled with unfortunate contracts and/or injured players.

On the fantasy end of things, the Giants face some of the same question marks as last year — Buster Posey’s health, Madison Bumgarner’s health (and trade value), if there’s anything worthy in the bullpen and what Evan Longoria has left in the tank. If you’re bold, there are a few younger Giants worth considering in your drafts, but there’s certainly no Vlad Jr. waiting in the wings. - Mike Oz

Giants’ offseason grade

No Bryce, no bueno. The Giants offseason will be remembered for everything they didn’t do rather than what they did. They didn’t land Harper. They didn’t drastically improve their outfield, only adding Gerardo Parra.

Their starting rotation still has some of the same problems, and it’s not too likely that bringing back Derek Holland or adding Drew Pomeranz is enough to turn things around. They can eat innings, sure. But compete with the Dodgers?

The Giants also didn’t take too many drastic steps toward a rebuild. There’s an argument to made that Bumgarner has value to rebuild and it’s better to let him start strong before exploring a deal, which is completely fair. But there still wasn’t much movement toward building the Giants of the future.

Our grade: D - Not enough to reshape the team, one way or another. - Mike Oz

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San Francisco’s projected lineup and pitching staff

The San Francisco Giants' projected lineup for 2019. (Yahoo Sports)
The San Francisco Giants' projected lineup for 2019. (Yahoo Sports)

Who will be the Giants’ best fantasy buy?

Mac Williamson was briefly the rage for Giants fans last year after a newly retooled swing resulted in a huge Spring Training performance followed by a hot start in April, when he posted a 1.105 OPS, recorded the hardest-hit home run by a Giants player in the Statcast era and added a 464-foot opposite field homer before suffering a concussion that effectively ruined the rest of his season. The impressive hitting was all during a tiny sample, but Williamson enters 2019 healthy and with a real opportunity (he’s out of options and San Francisco fields arguably the worst outfield in baseball right now), so he’s a flier to target late in drafts. - Dalton Del Don

[Positional Rankings: Top 300 Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | P]

What is San Francisco’s biggest fantasy question?

How far has Madison Bumgarner fallen? Once among the most durable workhorses in baseball, Bumgarner has missed a bunch of time over the last two seasons, although both injuries were fluky (a dirt bike accident and a broken pinkie suffered by a comebacker). More concerning is his diminishing stuff when on the mound, as last year he posted his lowest K% (19.8) and highest WHIP (1.24) since his rookie season in 2010 and his highest BB% (7.8) of his career. It’s all an alarming recipe for a pitcher with a lot of mileage on his arm and declining velocity.

San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner, left, waits for Los Angeles Dodgers' Justin Turner, right, to run the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Madison Bumgarner is looking to rebound after another uneven season for the lefty in 2018. (AP)

Moreover, if Bumgarner is traded, which is a real possibility despite his hero status within the organization, it will be a major blow to his fantasy value. Since 2015, Madbum has a 3.89 ERA on the road (330.2 innings) compared to a 2.15 ERA at home (355.0 innings), so moving outside of Oracle Park could be devastating. A move to the American League could be borderline catastrophic. - Dalton Del Don

Giants prospect to watch

With many of the team’s top prospects still in the lower levels of the minors, outfielder Chris Shaw is one of the few players you can count on seeing in the majors in 2019. Shaw got a taste of big-league action last season and struck out quite a bit. He will likely hit for a low average, but could provide a boost of power when he gets his chance. - Chris Cwik

Things that MUST go right for San Francisco

1. A healthy rotation: The Giants will have $53.6 million tied up in starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto this season. That same trio combined to make just 40 starts in 2018. Needless to say, they'll be hoping for a lot more in 2019. Unfortunately, Cueto is still several months away from a return after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August, but it's possible he'll be able to Contribute this season. As for Bumgarner and Samardzija, it's an absolute must.

2. Buster Posey's hip holds up: Like the starting rotation, health will be key to the Giants lineup. Mainly, the health of Buster Posey's surgically repaired hip. Posey played through a torn labrum and an impingement in his right hip for much of 2018, which led to just five home runs and a career-low .741 OPS over 448 plate appearances. The Giants will be limiting Posey's catching in spring training as he battles back from his August surgery. He won't be himself early on, but the Giants will need him at full strength sooner than later.

3. More from Evan Longoria: The Giants have several big contracts on the books. That includes the roughly $57 million they'll owe Longoria over the next four seasons. They didn't get much bang for their buck in 2018, as Longoria hit just .244/.281/.413 while producing 16 homers. With an offense that hit just 133 homers total in 2018 (second fewest in MLB), they need Longoria to get closer to his career 162-game average of 29 homers. - Mark Townsend

If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?

Look, we could have very well just mailed this in and given you Will Smith’s “Wild, Wild West” since the NL West has been kinda crazy this year and the Giants’ closer is the non-Fresh Prince Will Smith.

But you deserve better. The Giants might too. They’re a team that continues to live in the past — three rings will do that. This year w may see how much they dive into the rebuilding phase. Until then, we give you the vintage rap cut “Days of Old” by San Francisco-bred rapper Paris. - Mike Oz

More 2019 MLB Previews From Yahoo Sports

Baltimore | Miami | Kansas City | Detroit | Texas | Toronto | San Diego

Chicago (AL) | Minnesota | San Francisco | Pittsburgh | Arizona | Seattle

Cincinnati | Los Angeles (AL) | Oakland | Tampa Bay | Colorado | Cleveland

New York (NL) | St. Louis | Atlanta | Philadelphia | Milwaukee | Chicago

Washington | Los Angeles (NL) | Houston | New York (AL) | Boston