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Power behind Posey could perk up SF in 2018

Corner infielders Longoria, Belt key to increasing lineup's production
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite the relative lack of player movement throughout the Major Leagues, the Giants have launched the transition process that they hope will lead them toward resurgence.

The Giants addressed one offseason priority by obtaining third baseman Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay. They still need a leadoff/center-field prototype and a corner outfielder who ideally can provide power.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite the relative lack of player movement throughout the Major Leagues, the Giants have launched the transition process that they hope will lead them toward resurgence.

The Giants addressed one offseason priority by obtaining third baseman Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay. They still need a leadoff/center-field prototype and a corner outfielder who ideally can provide power.

Video: Giants acquire Evan Longoria from the Rays

The Giants are striving to avoid a repeat of last season, when they came in last the National League West with a 64-98 record. It was the second-worst mark in the franchise's San Francisco history.

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected lineup of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Giants might stack up:

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Gorkys Hernandez, CF
Joe Panik, 2B
Buster Posey, C
Evan Longoria, 3B
Brandon Belt, 1B
Brandon Crawford, SS
Hunter Pence, RF
Austin Slater, LF

STRENGTH
Posey ranks among the game's premier performers. He proved long ago that he could hit with consistency and power, compiling 24 home runs and a .336 batting average in his 2012 National League Most Valuable Player Award-winning season. Posey might be capable of generating bigger offensive numbers, but he needs protection in the batting order. Can Crawford or Belt provide that help? An area that appears solid is infield defense, since Crawford and Panik combine to form one of the best double-play combinations in the game.

Video: COL@SF: Crawford drills a line-drive homer to right

QUESTION MARK
The Giants need an able-bodied Belt to maintain any hope of contending in the challenging NL West. His first Spring Training task is proving that he has overcome the symptoms that sidelined him for the final 51 games after Arizona's Anthony Banda beaned him with a pitch last Aug. 4. Belt is San Francisco's closest resemblance to a power hitter, having hit 18 homers before he was shelved. He also contributes solid defense.

Video: Haft on Belt turning page after bad-luck 2017

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The Giants would be well-advised to acquire that corner outfielder and center fielder they earmarked as priorities. The latter must be rangy enough to anchor the defense at AT&T Park, where the outfield is spacious. But it's mostly about adding offensive potential. The Giants ranked last in the Majors a season ago in home runs (128) and slugging percentage (.380) and next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309).

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.

San Francisco Giants