2011 San Francisco Giants preview: Projected starting lineup

· CF – Andres Torres
· 2B – Freddy Sanchez
· 1B – Aubrey Huff
· C – Buster Posey
· RF – Cody Ross
· LF – Pat Burrell
· SS – Miguel Tejada
· 3B – Pablo Sandoval

– The Giants finally found their leadoff hitter in Torres. While his batting average was only .268, Torres provided power with 16 home runs and drove in 63 runs. He also scored 84 runs and stole 26 bases. Those are solid numbers for a leadoff hitter.

– Sanchez can be counted on to bat close to .300, with 7-9 home runs and 40-45 RBIs. The value Sanchez provides the Giants is that he doesn’t strike out and plays a great second base.

– All Huff did in 2010 was leading the Giants with 26 home runs, 86 runs driven in, scored 100 times and 157 games played. He also batted .290 and can play first base or the outfield, giving manager Bruce Bochy flexibility.

– The move of the year has to be the call up of Posey in late May. He finished the season batting .305, with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs. He also had a 21-game hitting streak, just one short of Willie McCovey’s record for the longest rookie hitting streak in San Francisco history. He provided offense the Giants desperately needed.

– Ross was a player the Giants acquired on a waiver claim in late August. It turned out to be the second best move GM Brian Sabean made. Ross was an afterthought in the regular season but delivered in the playoffs for the Giants, hitting .294, five home runs and 10 RBIs. He will be penciled in at the fifth spot in the lineup and could hit more than 20 home runs and drive in 100 runs.

– Although Burrell struggled in the playoffs, he was instrumental in helping the Giants win the NL West. He hit 18 home runs in 96 games with the Giants, including two game-winners in the last nine games. Burrell is 15 homers away from 300 in this career and he should get that this year.

– Tejada was the AL MVP with the Oakland Athletics in 2002 and returns to the Bay Area as a member of the Giants. Tejada will have big shoes to fill. He replaces Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria, both of whom hit series-deciding home runs in the playoffs last season. He provides a veteran bat and will also provide leadership for the Giants.

– Which Sandoval will show up this year? Will it be Sandoval of 2009 when he batted .330, hit 25 home runs and drove in 90? Will it be Sandoval last season when his batting average dropped to .268, hit only 13 home runs and drove in 63? The “Kung Fu Panda” is off to a great start already by losing almost 30 pounds this past offseason. Hopefully, those pounds will translate to his batting average and runs production.

Each player in the lineup, except for Sanchez, has the potential to hit 20 homers or more. This is a more dangerous lineup than the Giants had to begin last season when they didn’t have a leadoff hitter and didn’t know where the offense will be coming from. This offense is no doubt the class of the NL West.

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