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BettorIQ’s MLB Preview: San Francisco Giants

MLB

BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. We will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective leading up to the start of the season.

San Francisco Giants
2019 Record: 77-85
2019 Profits: +9.9 units 
2020 Win Total: 69 (based on 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win NL West: +15000
2020 Odds to Win NL Pennant: +30000
2020 Odds to Win World Series:  +50000

Betting Positives: Expectations are extremely low due to all the recent organizational changes. President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi took over last season with the promise of a more forward thinking, analytic approach. His impact was felt last season as the Giants, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, found themselves in the Wild Card race well into August. He also earned rave reviews from longtime former manager Bruce Bochy who retired this past offseason. Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will take Bochy’s place. Kapler comes in with some baggage but by given a second chance, he fits the profile of someone who is going to adhere to the blueprint of the front office. The roster is one of the oldest in MLB and multiple low cost free agent signings were brought in to add depth — something that teams will undoubtedly need given the unique 60-game regular season format. And the shortened season could end up affording the Giants a chance to surprise as aging veterans like Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey were unlikely to handle the rigors of a full season. Few teams in the National League will be power rated lower than the Giants but even a moderately competitive output could yield decent profits for bettors. 

Betting Negatives: The Giants stick out as a clear regression candidate this season after finishing an unfathomable 38-16 in one-run games, six games above their Pythagorean Win-Loss record, and seven wins in BaseRuns. The offseason losses of Madison Bumgarner, reliever Will Smith, outfielder Kevin Pillar, and catcher Stephen Vogt also speaks to the organization’s eye towards the future. A 60-game format should allow for more teams to be “live” to reach the postseason. If the Giants fall behind early in the standings, it’s logical that they’ll attempt to move as many veterans as possible before the August 31 trade deadline. But even at full strength, this is a squad littered with weaknesses. The offense finished 28th in wOBA, 28th in wRC+, and 24th in BB% with no offseason additions to suggest improvement. The average age of the starting rotation is nearly 32 years old.  The bullpen was a strength in 2019, but with Smith, Mark Melancon, and Sam Dyson gone, it’s an untrustworthy unit that will be tasked with supporting a starting staff that without Bumgarner, doesn’t have many arms that project to consistently go deep into games. 

Handicapper’s Take: Last season’s profits were in large part a mirage. Even with the shortened format and the hope it will provide lesser organizations, the reality is the Giants would prefer to use it as a springboard to 2021 rather than getting sucked into “contending” like last season. Assuming that’s the case, it’s hard not to project this as one of the weakest teams in MLB. In terms of a betting strategy, bettors may want to leave the door open early on as San Francisco’s average price will be even higher than last year’s +122. But keep a close eye on Zaidi. He’s not only pulling the strings but may be quick to pull the plug in order to better position his club for the future.