SAN FRANCISCO -- In retrospect, the 2017 season opener served as a microcosm of what went wrong for the Giants throughout the year.They received a historic performance from Madison Bumgarner -- at the plate, not on the mound -- and they still lost, dropping a 6-5 decision to the D-backs.The
SAN FRANCISCO -- In retrospect, the 2017 season opener served as a microcosm of what went wrong for the Giants throughout the year.
They received a historic performance from Madison Bumgarner -- at the plate, not on the mound -- and they still lost, dropping a 6-5 decision to the D-backs.
The hitters didn't hit. The Giants needed home runs from Bumgarner in each of his first two at-bats -- the first pitcher to accomplish this feat on Opening Day -- to score as many runs as they did.
The closer didn't close. Mark Melancon, who signed a four-year, $62 million deal to join the Giants, blew a 5-4 advantage that he inherited in the ninth inning.
Pick any aspect of this game. You'll find it ultimately went sour. For instance, each Giant in the starting lineup went on the disabled list at some point during the season.
The fall that reverberated the most was Bumgarner's. The left-hander, who defined the Giants' heart and soul, sustained shoulder and rib injuries in a dirt-bike accident on April 20 which sidelined him for nearly three months.
However, had Bumgarner remained healthy, it might not have made a difference in the Giants' 64-98 finish -- their second-worst since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
Here's a look at five noteworthy elements from 2017, in ascending order of importance:
When pride mattered
Strictly in terms of wins and losses, the Giants won't miss Player Page for Matt Cain, who posted five consecutive losing seasons to end his career. Cain's professionalism and savvy, however, served as an example to all. He fittingly ended his career with five scoreless innings despite not having pitched in a month.
Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, the Giants' top two starters, finished a combined 33-14 in 2016. That figure dipped to 12-17 last season.
Successful teams learn to win on the road. The Giants were 26-55 away from AT&T Park. That's a winning percentage of .321, the Majors' worst. San Francisco won only three road series all season.
Winning teams thrive by beating their most significant rivals. Then there were the Giants, who went 29-47 (.382) against National League West rivals. That explained their last-place finish in the division.
When combining these impediments -- playing on the road against West teams -- the Giants went 9-29 (.237).
What a pain
Not only did each member of the Opening Day lineup go on the disabled list during the season, but so did many of their reinforcements. Just when it seemed that rookies Christian Arroyo, Miguel Gomez, Ryder Jones and Austin Slater were beginning to show promise, an injury would sideline them and disrupt their momentum. As a result, they still carry the weight of having to prove themelves in 2018 instead of building on something positive.
The Giants brought back third baseman Pablo Sandoval from the Red Sox as a midseason reinforcement, and he returned to the big league lineup on Aug. 5, launching a memorable walk-off home run in the final game of the season.
Out of offense
By almost any measure, the Giants' offense was lacking. They ranked last in in the Major Leagues in homers (128) and slugging (.380) and next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309). Brandon Belt missed 51 games with concussion symptoms and still led the team with 18 home runs. As 2017 drew to a close, San Francisco tried to acquire some offensively oriented performers, but it fell short in efforts to trade for Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna and sign free agent Shohei Ohtani.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.