10 Reasons This San Francisco Giants Team Is Different Than the 2010 Version

Howard Cowan@@HowiedaveContributor IIIJuly 19, 2012

10 Reasons This San Francisco Giants Team Is Different Than the 2010 Version

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    Although the 2010 Giants had better pitching and a more potent offense, this year's team is better suited for another postseason run. 

    So it's tough to argue how this team can be better than the scrappy bunch that excited a city on their way to a World Series title.

    On the surface, both teams seem very similar with each squad showcasing great pitching and below-average hitting. It all still boils down to one word: Torture.

    On the brighter side, both teams have had their share of special moments, Pat Burrell's home run against the Dodgers or the Matt Cain's perfect game.  

    Yet if you peel back the layers, you see that 2012 team is very different and although there are a bunch of familiar faces, a whole new crowd of players is pushing the Giants to the postseason. 

    So what the next three months hold for the Giants is unclear, but here are 10 reasons why the 2012 team is different than the World Champions from 2010. 

Pablo Sandoval's Revival

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    In 2010, Pablo Sandoval was more of an afterthought than anything else. After an outstanding year in 2009 (.330 with 25 HR and 90 RBI,) Sandoval struggled to find his form hitting just .268 and grounding into a NL leading 26 double plays. 

    Although he's missed 35 games with a hand injury in 2010 and was under investigation for sexual assault, the Kung Fu Panda has found his stroke again. In only 55 games, he is hitting .300 with eight home runs and 30 RBI.

    Without the major power hitters the Giants had in 2010, Sandoval is even more important to the another postseason run. So although Melky Cabrera, Ryan Theriot are getting on base, it's the Panda and Posey that can change the game with one swing of the bat.   

No Brian Wilson

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    As distracting as Brian Wilison's beard may have become during 2010, it wasn't distracting him from dominating opposing batters. Wilson's numbers were impressive and his postseason numbers were even one notch better.

    During the regular season, he pitched 74.2 innings with a 1.81 ERA and 48 saves. Considering how many times Wilson came into the game during the eighth inning to get the save, it makes it that much more impressive. 

    During the postseason he was almost unhittable, as the Giants would go on to capture their first World Series title since 1954. In 11.2 innings, he gave up only five hits, zero earned runs and saved six games. He was mowing batting down batters with a Ks/9 clip of 12.3.

    But with Wilson gone, Santiago Casilla has had to fill the position, and until recently, the journeyman reliever had pitched well. Now with Casilla struggling, the loss of Wilson hurts that much more.

    If the Giants are going to get to the playoffs and advance, they will need better pitching from their closer, whoever it is.   

A Shaky Tim Lincecum

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    Although Tim Lincecum didn't pitch up to his Cy-Young standards in 2010, he rebounded during the postseason. The right-hander went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, including a two-hit shutout in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves.

    During the regular season he went 16-10 with 3.43 ERA, while giving up a career high 18 home runs. He did lead the league in strikeouts (231) and Ks/9 (9.79) but his WHIP did increase to 1.27.

    If 2010 was a setback, then 2012 has been 10 jumps backward. Even after an impressive eight inning, 11 strikeout performance, Lincecum sits at 3-10 with 5.93 ERA. He leads the league in earned runs, wild pitches and has a WHIP of 1.519.

    The real question is how will Lincecum pitch the rest of the summer? He has shown hints of brilliance against the Dodgers and the Astros, but during the last road trip, he was crushed by both the Nationals and Pirates.  

The Emergence of Madison Bumgarner

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    In 2010, Madison Bumgarner was a 20-year-old prospect who finished the year with a lot of promise. In 2012, Bumgarner has solidified himself as not only one of the best pitchers on the Giants, but one of the best young pitchers in the big leagues.

    The numbers speak for themselves. Since August 20th 2011, Bumgarner is 17-6 and this year in 18 starts his has a WHIP of 1.07.

    Although Bumgarner has been more prone to the long ball this year (14 over the 12 last year), he is giving up less H/9 then the previous year (7.8 vs. 8.9.) 

    Bumgarner also pitched his first complete game shutout. It's hard to believe that after almost three years in the majors, he hadn't gone the distance—it also won't be the last time either.

    If the Giants make a postseason run, Bumgarner will try to repeat his masterful postseason record. The young lefty went 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts. 

Leading the Division

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    Unlike in 2010, the Giants actually control their own destiny. This year the Giants have built a three-game lead over the Dodgers

    Two years ago they chased the Padres all year and overtook them on September 16. The rest, as they say, is history: The Giants got hot down the stretch going 18-8 in September.

    It's too early to see how long this lead will last, considering the Giants and Dodgers play 12 more times before the season is over. Either way it gives them confidence, that not only did they overcome the Dodgers early push, but that they are one of the league's best teams.

    As long as the Giants can continue to win series and improve on the road, another postseason trip looks promising. 

Lack of Power Numbers

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    As much as Giants fans complained about the offensive in 2010 and thought it was "Torture," the 2012 team has produced even of an offensive outburst. 

    Although they have a better batting average (.262, ranked third in the NL) their power numbers are way down. They rank last in HR with only 52 in 90 games. In 2010, they had two players hit more than 20 and three other players hit more than 15. 

    They ranked sixth in the league in HR, slugging percentage, and total bases, compared to 16th, and 13th and 13th in the respective categories. 

    That being said, the Giants are scoring runs in a different manner. They are no longer station to station and have stolen 71 bases. That's good for third best in the national league. 

    It's safe to say the Giants aren't going to out-slug you this year, but if you aren't careful they can string together hits and the next thing you know it's 8-0—something the Braves know about. 

Ryan Vogelsong

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    In 2010, Ryan Vogelsong wasn't on the Giants radar or anyone's radar for that matter. After spending three years pitching in Japan, the former Giants pitcher was having trouble just finding work.

    After an all-star performance in 2011, Vogelsong has once again emerged as one of the Giants' best pitchers. Constantly overshadowed by Cain, Bumbgarner, Lincecum and  Barry Zito, he has posted the best ERA on the Giants and the third best in the NL (2.36.)

    Vogelsong has been almost un-hittable at home this year. In nine starts, the 6'4" right-hander has a 1.43 ERA and is holding opponents to a .191 batting average. 

    Although Vogelsong has a four losses on the season, it doesn't tell the whole story. In his four losses the Giants have scored a total of four runs. Only once this year has Vogelsong given up more than three earned runs.

A Younger Team

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    Although a young pitching staff and Buster Posey were the catalyst for the Giants' World Series win, it was the veterans that held the team together. For most of the year everyone in the starting lineup besides Posey and Sandoval was over the age of 30.

    The 2012 team is more of a reflection of the young talent the Giants have drafted and built in the minor leagues. Theriot and Angel Pagan are the only two everyday starters who are 30-plus and with Aubrey Huff out for much of the year, no-one receiving major playing time is over the age of 32. 

    As lovable as the 2010 team was, this year's group may be even more so. Many of these guys including a good portion of the pitching staff are players who have gone through the Giants minor league system.

    So hopefully gone of the days of the overpriced aging free-agent.

A Weaker Bullpen

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    One of the great strengths of the 2010 Giants team was their bullpen. That year they saved 57 games and posted a 2.99 ERA. Only the Padres had a better ERA (2.81) and each team held their opponents to a .218 batting average.

    Fast forward to 2012 and the Giants have had their struggles late in the game. The Giants rank 16th in the MLB in bullpen ERA and 25th in opponents batting average (.253.) 

    Of course the absence Wilson is a big factor to why the Giants haven't been as reliable in the late innings. The loss of Guillermo Mota to suspension hasn't helped either.

    Some standouts like Javier Lopez have regressed in 2012, so it puts more pressure on guys like Casilla, who has stepped into the closing role.

    If the Giants make it back to the postseason, they will need to sure up their bullpen to have any success.   

Team Speed

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    Since 2010, the Giants have added more speed to their lineup. With the offseason acquisitions of Cabrera, Pagan, and Gregor Blanco, they are now a threat on the base paths.

    In 2010, the only player with over eight stolen bases was Andres Torres with 26. This year, the Giants already have three players with 10-plus stolen bases and both Blanco and Pagan have 16.

    Overall, the Giants are third in the national league with 71 stolen bases and second in the league in triples with 30.

    This speed has allowed the Giants to score runs even without the power numbers. Come the postseason, speed could be the difference for the Giants.