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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.