30 Clubs in 30 Days: San Francisco Giants

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageFor the second time in three seasons, the San Francisco Giants are the defending World Series champions. Their core, established with a focus on starting pitching and clutch hitting, has cemented itself as one of, if not the best in baseball.

C Buster Posey (.336-24-103) shined brightest of them all. After missing most of 2011 due to a gruesome leg injury, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year powered the Giants back to the postseason, earning his first NL MVP in the process. His supporting cast on offense featured World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval (.283-12-63), steroid user Melky Cabrera (.346-11-60), and late season pickup Marco Scutaro (.362-3-44); who emerged from relative mediocrity to establish himself as one of the team’s finest clutch hitters (and earn himself a hefty new contract in the process). Hunter Pence (.219-7-45), acquired from the Phillies at the trade deadline, struggled to get acclimated to playing in San Francisco. He returns for one more season before hitting free agency following 2013.

The Giants’ pitching staff overcame a disastrous season from former two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18). Surprisingly strong seasons from Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15) and former Lehigh Valley IronPigs starter Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37) helped in picking up the slack of the former superstar right-hander. Meanwhile, Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79) continued his meteoric rise to the top, throwing a perfect game on June 13th vs. Houston.

The bullpen, once revolving around the enigmatic closer Brian Wilson (0-0, 9.00), is now headlined by Sergio Romo (4-2, 1.79, 14 SV) and Santiago Casilla (7-6, 2.84, 25 SV). The two righties emerged as bona fide shutdown closers in the wake of Wilson’s injury.

In the playoffs, the Giants fell behind the Reds 2-0 at home, then won three consecutive games in Cincinnati to earn a berth in the NLCS. Once there, the Giants overcame a 3-1 deficit vs. St. Louis, capturing the final three games by a combined score of 20-1. The World Series, which was hyped as a matchup of talented pitching staffs and powerful offensive stars, ended up being a one-sided affair. The Giants spanked Tigers’ RHP Justin Verlander in game one, then did not allow another run until game four en route to a sweep. Can San Francisco establish a dynasty in 2013? With most of their roster returning from last year, one would have to assume that the boys from the Bay Area are all in for one more ride to the promised land.

Five Year Review

2012: 94-68
Won World Series over Tigers, 4-0
2011:
86-76
2010:
92-70
Won World Series over Rangers, 4-1
2009: 88-74
2008:
72-90

Key Acquisitions

3B Tony Abreu (Kansas City Royals)
OF Andres Torres (New York Mets)
RHP Chad Gaudin (Miami Marlins)

Key Departures

1B Aubrey Huff (unsigned)
C Eli Whiteside (Texas Rangers)
2B Freddy Sanchez (unsigned)
SS Ryan Theriot (unsigned)
OF Xavier Nady (unsigned)
RHP Brian Wilson (unsigned)
RHP Brad Penny (unsigned)
RHP Guillermo Mota (unsigned)

Projected Lineup

CF Angel Pagan – .278-8-54, 26 SB
2B Marco Scutaro – .275-6-52
3B Pablo Sandoval – .289-20-83
C Buster Posey – .306-21-89
RF Hunter Pence – .269-19-83
1B Brandon Belt – .265-13-66, 12 SB
LF Gregor Blanco – .238-4-32, 19 SB
SS Brandon Crawford – .239-6-46

RHP Matt Cain – 14-9, 3.16
RHP Tim Lincecum – 12-10, 3.61
LHP Madison Bumgarner – 13-9, 3.28
RHP Ryan Vogelsong – 11-10, 3.80
LHP Barry Zito – 8-9, 4.47

RHP Sergio Romo – 3-2, 2.25, 30 SV
RHP Santiago Casilla – 3-2, 3.41, 1 SV

2013 Outlook

The Giants will look to establish themselves as the unrivaled champions of the National League with another strong season in 2013. Their lineup has impact performers from the leadoff spot down through the five-hole. The bottom of the lineup is significantly below-average, however. What the Giants don’t do with the bats, though, they more than make up for with the glove.

Their rotation will once again be among the best in baseball. Cain, Bumgarner, and Vogelsong have developed into reliable arms with postseason experience. Lincecum, once the best of the group, will need to prove that 2012 was a fluke and not the beginning of what some already expected, a dramatic downward spiral due to his unorthodox delivery and diminutive stature putting added stress on Lincecum’s arm.

Overall, the Giants are a very, very talented team. After all, they have won two championships in three seasons. But, the N.L. West is no longer a cakewalk. Los Angeles or Arizona could put pressure on the Giants as the season progresses. Still, there is little doubt who the most complete team is. I foresee the Giants winning between 93-99 games, capturing their second consecutive division championship.

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