Why the San Francisco Giants' 2012 Season Is Beginning to Remind of 2010
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The San Francisco Giants shocked the baseball world in 2010. They won their first World Series since the franchise moved west in 1958. This unique band of misfits, journeymen and youngsters came together at the right time and won it all.
There were so many heroes in 2010 and the 2012 season is beginning to look a lot like the victorious team, from two seasons ago. Manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean are still in their respective positions and they have put together a team that will challenge in the post-season.
Let's take a look at some of the similarities that are beginning to appear among the two teams.
5) The Offense Is Producing Just Enough
Melky Cabrera is leading the Giants' offense in 2012
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The San Francisco Giants' teams of 2010 and 2012 will never be considered offensive juggernauts. Neither team had much power and could not rely on the long-ball.
The fact of the matter is that both teams need to string hits together, in order to score runs. The ability to manufacture runs by moving runners along, getting a timely hit or sacrifice fly was critical to each teams' ability to score.
The 2012 version of the Giants have a lot more speed and can steal a base or two. In addition, the ability of this group to go from first to third on a single, or to score from second base on a base-hit, gives the 2012 squad an advantage.
The 2010 team got excellent offensive contributions from the likes of Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez. In 2012, the Giants get a large amount of their production from Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval, Gregor Blanco and Ryan Theriot.
In 2010, the Giants hit .257 as a team, with an OBP of .321 and OPS of .729. The 2012 version is very similar, with a team batting average of .259, OPB of .316 and OPS of .695. The Giants averaged 4.3 runs-per-game in 2010, compared with 3.92 in 2012.
The only constant that bridges these two squads and is making big offensive contributions is Buster Posey. He joined the Giants in late May of 2010 and helped to carry the Giants to the playoffs and their post-season run. After sustaining a devastating injury in 2011, Posey is back and is again a leader of the Giants' offense.
4) The Relief Pitching Has Been Very Good
Sergio Romo pitched well in 2010 and 2012
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San Francisco Giants' manager Bruce Bochy is known to be able to build and cultivate a very solid bullpen. Bochy accomplished this in San Diego, when he managed the Padres. He, along with pitching coach Dave Righetti, have developed strong bullpens in each of these two seasons.
In 2010, the bullpen was anchored by closer Brian Wilson, who saved 48 games for the Giants, during the regular season and another six in the post-season. Now, with Wilson out for the season following Tommy John surgery, the closer job belongs to Santiago Casilla, who was a setup man in 2010.
Many of the relief pitchers from 2010 are the same arms that are still here in 2012. Sergio Romo was very good in 2010, but he has been virtually untouchable this year. The Giants also feature key lefties Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt.
Guillermo Mota is gone, after testing positive earlier this season for a banned substance. Ramon Ramirez is also gone from the 2010 team, as he was traded this off-season along with Andres Torres, in the deal that brought Angel Pagan to the Giants.
Clay Hensley has stepped up and has been a reliable reliever, with Mota and Ramirez gone.
Top quality relief pitching is a key reason the Giants have been so good in close, one-run games. This was a critical factor in the Giants' success in 2010 and will also help to carry the team this year.
3) Brian Sabean Will Likely Make Two Or Three Additions At The Trade Deadline
Giants' GM Brian Sabean waves to the crowd at the victory parade
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San Francisco Giants' GM Brian Sabean made several key acquisitions during the course of the 2010 season. The Giants had injuries and several flaws on the roster and Sabean's moves helped give the Giants the impetus that carried them through to victory.
Sabean acquired relief pitchers Chris Ray, Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez, all of whom contributed to the team. Lopez and Ramirez were instrumental down the stretch.
In addition, Sabean also acquired outfielder Cody Ross in a move that was also designed to keep Ross away from the division leading San Diego Padres. Ross will go down in history as the hero of the post-season for the Giants.
Ross hit five home runs in the post-season, including three in the NLCS, against the Phillies. He was named the MVP of that series for the Giants.
Sabean also signed Pat Burrell off the scrap heap. He was released by Tampa Bay after he hit only .202 with two home runs and 13 RBI. Burrell, who grew up just down the road in San Jose, was rejuvenated. As a Giant, Burrell hit .266, with 18 home runs and 51 RBI. He provided the Giants with the power they had been lacking.
I firmly believe the Giants will likely add another relief pitcher before the trade deadline. Steve Edlefsen was sent down to the minors after a bout of ineffectiveness. George Kontos is unproven and Shane Loux is a 32 year-old journeyman.
The Giants may also want to add a veteran middle infielder, as it does not look like Freddy Sanchez will be back any time soon. Emmanuel Burriss is simply not getting the job done. He looks like a 4-A player, at this stage of his career.
Sabean will also keep his eyes open for a power bat, either at first base or the outfield. Big hitters are very costly, so it will be very difficult to pull off a trade of this magnitude, but it would be an important asset for the Giants to add.
Similar to 2010, expect Sabean to be very busy over the next few weeks.
2) The Giants' Starting Pitching Has Been Outstanding
Matt Cain has been a "horse" for the Giants
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One of the biggest similarities between the 2010 and 2012 versions of the San Francisco Giants is their vaunted starting pitching. The Giants' starting pitching is arguably the best in baseball now and also in their championship season of 2010.
Two years ago, the Giants were led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. Madison Bumgarner joined the team in the middle of the season and was a fixture the rest of the way and in the playoffs. In 2010, the Giants had one weak link, which was Barry Zito.
Fast forward to 2012 and we see another outstanding Giants' starting pitching staff. The group is led by Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito. This year, it is Tim Lincecum who has been the weak link.
As you can see, in both 2010 and 2012, the Giants have flourished with four strong starters. It is these starting pitchers who were instrumental in the Giants' 2010 World Series title and are shining now, that will lead the Giants to glory.
1) The Giants Are Once Again Playing And Winning Close Games
Pablo Sandoval was also with the Giants in 2010
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The San Francisco Giants made a habit of winning close games in 2010. The 2012 team is doing that, as well. The Giants, both in 2010 and today, are finding a different hero, with every win.
Giants' announcer, Duane Kuiper, coined the word "torture", when it came to the continual close nature of the games. Torture was used whenever the Giants pulled out a close win and the 2012 team is beginning to utilize it now, also.
The Giants now use "torture" as a good thing.
The Giants Have The Foundation In Place To Win Again This Year
Edgar Renteria was the 2010 World Series MVP
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In 2010, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers to win their first World Series title in San Francisco. Edgar Renteria's home run off of Cliff Lee propelled the Giants to victory.
The 2012 version of the Giants must first make the playoffs, then they will advance only if they continue to win. The Giants have some excellent talent and the vibe is getting very familiar. The rest of the season promises to be a lot of fun.