Giants miss playoffs again after latest championship run
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The defending champion Giants missed the playoffs in yet another odd-year disappointment, as has become the recent pattern following title runs.
Despite that, manager Bruce Bochy is about as proud of this club as he was the teams that won three World Series championships in the previous five years.
”It’s a year I’m probably as proud of – sure, you’d like to win the World Series – that they’ve hung in there with all that’s been dealt to them,” Bochy said. ”I don’t think there’s a team in modern baseball that’s had its backs against the wall as much as this club.”
The Giants (84-78) dealt with injuries at nearly every position, including all three outfield spots. From new left fielder Nori Aoki to center fielder Angel Pagan and even a lingering oblique injury for typically durable right fielder Hunter Pence, who missed the entire stretch run.
First baseman Brandon Belt ended a second straight season with a concussion, which also afflicted outfielder Gregor Blanco and infielder Ehire Adrianza. Second baseman Joe Panik was limited to 100 games because of a bad back, while shortstop Brandon Crawford also missed time, leaving Bochy with a patchwork lineup at best for much of the second half.
Then there was the pitching staff, where Jake Peavy was injured early, and Matt Cain and Tim Hudson banged up throughout.
And the Giants were still in contention into the season’s final week before watching the rival Los Angeles Dodgers capture their third straight NL West crown at AT&T Park.
”We don’t want to keep up with them, we want to pass them,” general manager Bobby Evans said.
Here are some things to take from the 2015 Giants:
KEY HITS: While Crawford overcame his own injury issues, he hit a team-best 21 home runs to become the first shortstop to lead the Giants in home runs for a season since Bill Dahlen in 1905 with seven. San Francisco also received big contributions from rookies Matt Duffy, Kelby Tomlinson and Jarrett Parker, to name a few who Bochy said, ”aren’t playing like rookies” – and pitcher Chris Heston, who pitched a no-hitter against the Mets on June 9.
”We’ve been able to win and develop, which is not easy to do,” CEO Larry Baer said. ”The aim is to return to championship-caliber play, get back to the playoffs and win.”
PAGAN SURGERY: Pagan will undergo an arthroscopic cleanup surgery on his right knee Tuesday.
Next year is the last on the $40 million, four-year deal he received in December 2012.
The Giants’ decision on Aoki’s $5.5 million club option will likely weigh Pagan’s projected health. Pagan also had back surgery in 2014.
”It will probably be a close call,” Evans said of Aoki. ”I think we’re confident in Aoki’s health.”
CAIN’S REBOUND: The Giants consider Cain a member of the rotation heading into 2016 after he missed time with further elbow troubles early on this year.
The right-hander was limited to 11 starts and 13 appearances after making just 15 starts last season before season-ending elbow surgery.
”We’re looking at him as a starter for us,” Evans said.
LINCECUM’S REHAB: Evans isn’t ready to project where right-hander Tim Lincecum might fit next season after he recovers from left hip surgery. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is due to become a free agent, but would like to re-sign with the team he has known his entire career.
”Our focus right now is his rehab. That’s our priority,” Evans said. ”Hopefully that will progress and allow us to assess him.”
SO LONG, AFFELDT AND HUDSON: Lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt and right-hander Tim Hudson said their formal farewells during the season-ending series this past weekend and will head off into retirement after 14 and 17 years in the majors, respectively.
Affeldt was part of all three recent title teams – in 2010, `12 and last year – while the 40-year-old Hudson earned his first championship ring last fall.
Regarding Mike Leake, Evans said there’s mutual interest in re-signing the pending free agent, but it might not happen immediately.
”We’re open-minded,” Evans said. ”The rotation will have to be addressed.”
Ryan Vogelsong also becomes a free agent.
AP Freelance Writer Michael Wagaman contributed to this report.