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San Francisco Giants Fantasy Report

June 19, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

Thanks to collapses by both Colorado and San Diego, the San Francisco Giants aren’t occupying the cellar in the NL West – their expected residence this year. The team is holding its own, going 8-9 so far in June to stay somewhat within striking distance of mediocrity, again, a modest accomplishment considering how bad we all thought they’d be. As expected, the team is struggling offensively, although not as bad as anticipated. Pitching has been better, but hardly dominant. Clearly, this team has plenty of work ahead of it before it gets back anywhere near contention.

Let’s start with the future, because that’s where the real excitement is for the Giants. The club’s top pick, Buster Posey, just became the first Florida State catcher to win a Rawlings Gold Glove. Building the future of the club around a stud catcher like Posey is a very smart move for the Giants, considering how much young pitching talent they have.

Second round pick Conor Gillaspie was just selected as a Third Team All-American after batting .419 with 11 homers and 16 steals for Wichita State. He’s the third baseman of the future for the Giants and is expected to sign soon.

Current third baseman Jose Castillo got some fantasy attention for his play last month, but he’s cooled off considerably of late and is now a fringe asset in deeper NL-only leagues. Playing everyday again, he’s enjoying his finest power year with 20 doubles, three triples and five homers (all over a 32-game stretch after suffering through a 450 at-bat run without one), is walking far more often, has cut his strikeout rate, yet is still only a marginal fantasy option. Castillo’s career high is 14 homers, set two years ago with the Pirates. It’s a number he could challenge if he continues to hit them at this pace.

If we’re talking about real fantasy assets on the Giants, the conversation has to start with Tim Lincecum. While he was middling his last time out, at 8-1 Lincecum is off to the best start by a Giant hurler since Bud Black and John Burkett both began the season with that mark back in 1993. Lincecum has remained healthy so far this year, and has done a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the park. While his K rate is down slightly from his rookie season, he’s still averaging almost one per inning, and he’s been getting harder to hit as the season goes on. He leads the majors with 13 quality starts, barely having a streak of 15 straight snapped on Monday. Sophomore slump? Uh, yeah. I have slight worries about how he’ll fare in the second half when his inning count starts to rise to unprecedented territory, but for now, he’s an absolute stud that should be ridden as far as he’ll take you. One promising sign is that manager Bruce Bochy is taking care of his young star’s arm. Although he had some fairly high pitch counts in May, Lincecum hasn’t been allowed to throw more than 108 pitches in any start in June, and he remains without a complete game this season. Keeper league owners should be happy about this.

If you’re seeking outfield help, there’s a decent chance that Fred Lewis remains available in your league. He’s got a nine-game hitting streak, is batting .345 in June and is up to .286 on the season. Finally given a chance to play every day, Lewis is enjoying a breakout season, scoring plenty of runs, showing developing power, and swiping bases. You could do a lot worse than pick up this dude, especially considering how hot he’s been.

I like what I’m seeing out of young shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, who has hit safely in six straight games. The first Washington, D.C., public high school grad to reach the majors in many years, Burriss has been taking time away from struggling veteran Omar Vizquel. I wouldn’t pick Burriss up just yet, but definitely put him on your watch list – the switch hitter is swinging a .381 bat this month.

After a blazing start, Aaron Rowand has come down to earth, thanks somewhat to right hip flexor tightness earlier this month. As expected, he’s been unable to duplicate his power from 2007, but thanks to a .305 BA, Rowand has been plenty valuable nonetheless.

Here’s a puzzler for you. While the Giants are just a game under .500 on the road, they are an abysmal 14-24 at home this season. Thankfully, all but one of their remaining games in June will be played away from AT&T Park, so perhaps this will allow the club to grab hold of sole possession of third place in the NL West.

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