After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series two of the past three years, some still don’t believe the Giants are for real. Some still think it was a fluke and they will digress again next season. Las Vegas has the Tigers, who the Giants just beat in the World Series, as the favorites to win it all next season.
Some point to 2011 and the fact the Giants didn’t make the playoffs as a sign of how the Giants aren’t a legitimate contender every year. In 2011, though, the centerpiece of the team, Buster Posey, was hurt early in the season. Without that injury, the Giants easily make the playoffs in 2011 and have a chance to win three years in a row. Posey was an emotional leader as well as a leader on the field.
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Others believe the Giants don’t have enough power to be competitive. Playing in AT&T Park, though, is perfect for a contact-hitting team and not a power-hitting team. Some believe AT&T is a pitcher’s park and a terrible place for hitters. Posey, however, won the batting title last year with a .336 average.
AT&T is perfect for the small ball the Giants play. Angel Pagan led the National League in triples last year with 15. Marco Scutaro has been a contact hitter his entire career with a career avg. of .276 and only 75 home runs. Playing in Colorado, a power hitter’s talents are shown off more than a contact hitter. That’s why Scutaro thrived after he was traded to the Giants and averaged .362 after the trade. With a full season in AT&T, Scutaro could compete for the batting title.
The Giants rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, signed some big names over the offseason, while the Giants stayed with what they have and what helped them win it all last year. After getting Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford midseason, the Dodgers added pitcher Zack Greinke in the offseason.
The power hitters, Gonzalez and Crawford, won’t make much of a difference in the pitching parks the NL West is known for. Gonzalez was in the NL West with the Padres for years and didn’t help the Padres make deep runs.
The biggest reason the Giants have a chance to repeat is pitching. It has been the staple of the team for years. Barry Zito’s resurgence helped the team more than any signing could have. If he can continue to show flashes of brilliance, the Giants will have a steady top of the order with him, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.
Cain has been solid for years and will again be in the running for the CY Young. The 23-year-old Bumgarner had a 3.37 ERA and continues to be magnificent in his very young career. The hard-throwing left-hander has the potential to be in the CY Young discussion for a long time.
The biggest question of the rotation is Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young winner had the worst year of his career and was one of the worst pitchers in the NL last season. Going to the bullpen for the postseason, Lincecum seemed to figure it out though. His stuff was nasty once again, and he did a fantastic job in helping the Giants win the World Series.
Even if Lincecum isn’t back to his award-winning self, he can’t be as bad as last year. The Giants made up for Lincecum last year, though, and still ran away with the division on their way to a championship. Why wouldn’t they be able to make up for him again?
The Giants are the defending champions and should be considered a favorite to win it all again. They have a strong nucleus of young talent and will be in the mix for years.