Will the Giants attempt to re-sign Derek Holland? With the consistency he has shown as of late, he could provide some stability at the back end of the starting rotation.
-- Joaquin M., Clovis, Calif.
Nobody within the Giants' hierarchy has said much publicly about Holland's immediate future. But the "fit" between player and team certainly exists in this case, making it likely that Holland will indeed return to the Giants in 2019. As Joaquin pointed out, Holland has remained a prototypical fifth starter, working at least six innings in 11 of his 25 starts. Moreover, San Francisco owns a 14-11 record in his starts (see below for more on this topic).
Other factors point to San Francisco signing the 31-year-old Holland. He genuinely enjoys being a Giant, for one thing. Also, though he'll enter free agency, he played for $1.75 million this year and thus should be relatively affordable.
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Madison Bumgarner said that Jacob deGrom of the Mets should be considered for the Cy Young Award even with a poor win-loss record because wins don't count as much as they used to. Why isn't a team's record behind each starter used as an official stat? To me, that would be the most important stat for a starter.
-- David F., Asheville, N.C.
Traditionally, baseball has been slow to select items from the statistical menu. For instance, people who followed the game understood the importance of the save for years before it became an official stat in 1969. And though a team's W-L mark behind a starter partially reflects his quality, it doesn't tell the entire story. If a ballclub loses a game in which the bullpen blows a lead, that would be an undeserved "L" for a starter if his statistical fate is tied to the ultimate decision.
Why doesn't Alen Hanson get more playing time and recognition for the spark he brings to the team? Nobody on this team runs the bases like he does. He appears to be one of the few guys who can make things happen.
-- Mikeul M., Boise, Idaho
Every team needs a performer or two like Hanson who can thrive off the bench. Here are some intriguing figures: In 55 starts, his slash line is .252/.266/.398. In 33 games as a substitute, his corresponding numbers rise to .361/.425/.694. Consider also that Hanson has played second base, shortstop, third base and left field for the Giants. To become a regular infielder with the Giants this year, he would have had to unseat Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford or Evan Longoria. And left field has remained a season-long tryout camp.
I am amazed at how many Giants fans want Buster Posey out from behind the dish. Can you remind them that pitching and defense win championships? Pulling Posey would greatly hurt the Giants. As far as Joey Bart goes, when he is ready, he could be a huge trade chip for a prime-time power hitter. Otherwise, he would be wasted as a backup for the next several years. Thoughts?
-- C. Kelley, Hesperia, Calif.
We must wait and see how the first few months of next season unfold. How thoroughly will Posey recover from hip surgery? Might he switch to first base, which requires more movement than most people realize? How quickly will Bart progress? If he's half as good as everybody says he is, using him as a "trade chip" would be foolish. What if Bart needs the entire 2019 season to gain maturity? Then the overlap between him and Posey, who's signed through '21 with a team option for '22, would be less pronounced. Such issues seem like a potential problem now, but in reality they almost solve themselves more often than not.
Do you think that Bruce Bochy, with likely a sub-.500 win-loss record at the end of his managing career, will wind up in the Hall of Fame?
-- Mike V., Tucson, Ariz.
Yes. Bochy is mentioned so frequently as a Hall of Fame candidate that his ascent to Cooperstown appears inevitable. His lifetime regular-season record is only three games under .500, so anticipating that he'll finish his career with a losing mark is premature. Finally, nine managers besides Bochy won at least three World Series; all are in the Hall.