The San Francisco Giants limped to a disappointing finish to the 2011 season following their run to the World Series title in 2010. However, 2012 is a brand new year in San Francisco and the Giants will be looking to repeat the success they enjoyed two seasons ago.
With that said, the Giants 2012 team is built to win, making a run into October very possible. Let's examine five reasons why San Francisco will take home the 2012 World Series title.
In 2010, the Giants managed to win the World Series despite only having Posey in uniform from late May onward. In 2011, it was expected that Posey would be with the club for the entire year, fueling the talk of a possible repeat.
But, a home-plate collision resulted in a season-ending injury for the young star and the Giants' hope of another deep playoff run were quickly dashed.
However in 2012, Posey should be with the squad from start to finish, lending a huge boost to a Giants offense that ranked last in the National League in runs scored a year ago.
Having a healthy Buster Posey will not only help offensively, but it will also help breed continuity between the pitching staff.
Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart split the catching duties a year ago and it was difficult for the Giants' talented staff to develop a rapport. Posey brought the staff together in 2010 and this harmony played a big role in San Francisco's postseason run.
The Giants will see immediate offensive production from a position that they received next to nothing from just a year ago. Removing the Giants' leader and cleanup from the lineup resulted in a disappointing 2011 season. But now that he's back, look for the Giants to play inspired baseball into October.
In 2011, the Giants had a target aimed squarely on their backs. Some predicted, including ESPN's Buster Olney, that the Giants would repeat as World Series champions following their impromptu run to the title in 2010.
In honor of the world championship, San Francisco sported a patch on its jerseys commemorating the achievement. The Giants also experienced an influx of ticket sales, resulting in large crowds at each and every game.
Entering 2012, much of this pomp and circumstance no longer exists. The Giants are no longer the reigning World Series champions, let alone the reigning NL West Division champions.
On a national level, the expectations surrounding the Orange and Black are not nearly as high as they were last year. This will remove a lot of unneeded pressure from the Giants as they head into 2012. There will be no commemorative patch and there will be no chatter about repeats and dynasties. This decrease in pressure will end up serving as a recipe for a successful 2012 campaign.
The added publicity may be gone, but this only ensures the Giants will be able to get down to business and focus on the task at hand.
After resurrecting his career in San Francisco with a brilliant 2010 campaign, Huff struggled mightily in 2011.
The 35-year-old first baseman saw his production drop in nearly every major offensive category, including batting average (.290 to .246), home runs (26 to 12) and runs batted in (86 to 59).
However, Huff has made changes to his offseason training regimen, which will go a long way in upping his 2012 production. Additionally, Huff is in a contract year, meaning that his motivation level will be higher than ever while he vies to impress potential offseason suitors.
Huff has made a habit of following up an unproductive year with a productive one and don't expect 2012 to be an exception to that rule.
If the Giants are to make a deep postseason run, Huff must play an integral role offensively. Age is no longer on Huff's side, but the stars are aligned for him to make a great impact for the Giants in 2012.
The Giants remained fairly quiet on the hot stove front this offseason, making just a couple noteworthy transactions. San Francisco's biggest moves include the addition of outfielders in Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.
Both players will instantly provide depth and skill to a key position of need.
The outfield in 2011 struggled as a whole, with Carlos Beltran shouldering much of the burden. Now that Beltran has moved on to St. Louis, the door is open for the duo of Cabrera and Pagan to contribute right away.
Both Andres Torres and Cody Ross underperformed immensely in 2011. In retrospect, it's really a miracle the Giants were able to stay close in the division race with Ross and Torres, among others, struggling.
Pagan was brought in to essentially replace Torres and he has the skill set to fill those shoes and then some. Pagan is a leadoff hitter, something the Giants lacked in 2011, and is also extremely versatile. His speed adds another dimension to the Giants offense that it didn't have last year.
Cabrera is fresh off a career year in Kansas City in 2011 and 2012 will also be a contract year for the outfielder. As noted previously, contract years provide more drive for success in order to appear more attractive when free agency rolls around. Cabrera will also be out to prove that 2011 was no joke.
San Francisco may not have made as many offseason moves as the reigning division champion Diamondbacks, but the additions the Giants did make bode well for their success in 2012.
Look for both Cabrera and Pagan to make an instant impact in leading the Giants to the postseason and beyond.
The Giants' 2011 season was defined by their offensive woes, which resulted in the brilliance of the pitching staff being overlooked.
Just in case anyone forgot, San Francisco still boasts arguably the best pitching staff, top to bottom, in Major League Baseball. The rotation led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner is what catches the eye of most, but let's not forget the depth and talent of the bullpen anchored by All-Star closer Brian Wilson.
For the first time in his career, Lincecum finished under .500 (13 wins and 14 losses), and although the two-time Cy Young award winner struggled at times, he rebounded well to still manage a 2.74 earned run average.
The Freak has shown no signs of slowing down and look for him to be back to the top of his game in 2012.
Much of the offseason talk surrounding Lincecum's rotation mate, Matt Cain, has been centered around a possible contract extension. Although the Giants have yet to work anything out with Cain, the big right-hander's impending free agency could end up being a blessing in disguise for San Francisco.
Like the aforementioned Aubrey Huff, Cain will be motivated to perform well this season in order to boost his offseason stock.
The Giants bullpen lost Ramon Ramirez, but with the return of Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson, San Francisco can still claim one of the top relief corps in the league.
Pitching was what spearheaded the Giants' World Series run in 2010 and it will be the key stimulant in their bid for the title in 2012.