San Francisco Giants: Spring Watch – 2024 Season Preview

Opening Day is on the horizon and there’s no better time to look ahead to the new campaign with a little season preview:

What happened in 2023? 

79-83 record (Fourth in the NL West)

The 2023 season did not go to plan for the Giants and that’s putting it nicely. A second half collapse took them out of postseason contention, saw their manager Gabe Kapler fired, and left the roster needing multiple upgrades. There were some bright spots, Logan Webb and Patrick Bailey in particular, but the team never truly felt like they were built to compete at the top level. The 2023 squad were a group of spare parts and unproven rookies, forced together like square pegs and round holes. You can read my entire 2023 season review here for a more in-depth breakdown.

Notable comings and goings

Ins: Jung Hoo Lee, Jorge Soler, Jordan Hicks, Robbie Ray

Outs: Brandon Crawford, Mitch Haniger, Anthony DeSclafani, Joc Pederson

Areas of weakness requiring attention

The rotation still appears to be a weakness as the Giants inch closer to Opening Day. Only Webb is considered a sure-thing, the undisputed ace of the staff. Beyond Webb the Giants will patiently wait for veterans Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray to recover from injury and return to the mound. In their absence the team must rely on inexperienced arms like Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck. Winn and Beck have both suffered injuries in camp already this spring, further jeapordising San Francisco’s plans before the season even begins. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding flamethrower and newly-made starter Jordan Hicks but he’s spent most of his career in the majors out of the bullpen. There’s definitely some uncertainty regarding Hicks’ ability to pitch in the rotation for a full year.

Free-agent starters Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery still remain available and would instantly give the Giants a boost in the pitching department. Whether or not the club wants to commit funds to either man appears to be the question, as both of them would undoubtedly be an upgrade. I’ve written a closer look at the 2024 Giants’ rotation as they currently are here.

One to watch

The player most of us will be watching closely has to be Jung Hoo Lee. The South Korean centre fielder with a talent for making contact looks set to be the Giants’ primary leadoff man for the rest of the decade. Throughout his exemplary KBO career Lee made a habit of getting on base, avoiding strikeouts, and igniting the offense. San Francisco desperately needed a player of Lee’s quality after finishing 2023 dead-last in batting average in the National League, hitting just .235 as a team for the year. If Lee can adjust quickly to major-league pitching, Giants fans could see a Rookie of the Year contender leading their lineup on a daily basis. You can see my full profile on Lee here.

2024 prediction

I think so much will depend on how the Giants weather the first-half of the season, without the likes of Cobb and Ray in the rotation. Should San Francisco remain competitive, hovering around .500 by the All-Star break, then the veteran pitching reinforcements could create a second-half push and help secure a Wild Card spot to get into October. 

I’d argue the Giants lineup looks improved from their 2023 counterparts, especially with Lee’s addition and the big power bat of Jorge Soler. We might finally see a Giant hit 30+ home runs for the first time in 20 years! The young guys like Bailey, Casey Schmitt, Marco Luciano, Luis Matos and Tyler Fitzgerald should feel more at home now and more familiar in their major-league uniforms. Their increased experience can only help their development and hopefully begin shaping a core of players who will go on to huge success.

I don’t expect this team to enjoy huge success immediately, not in a division as loaded as the NL West, but so long as the Giants are progressing in the right direction, I’ll be content. 

A Wild Card spot and a roll of the dice in the playoffs would suffice for me. Maybe the Giants can surprise some people. We all love an underdog, right?

Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on X (Twitter) @AshDay29

Photo credit for featured image by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images.

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