Predicting a baseball team's regular-season record is practically a crapshoot, but that doesn't mean that one can't analyze the San Francisco Giants and make an educated guess.
Fresh off winning World Series championships in two of the past three seasons, the Giants have emerged as a team that will likely contend for the NL pennant for years to come. Considering their youth, playoff experience and unique chemistry, there is no reason to believe the Giants won't be one of the favorites to win it all in 2013.
But as far as the regular-season record is concerned, there are a ton of factors that will play into how many wins the Giants will finish with. Between coaching, interleague play, road trips and injuries—which could be the biggest determinant—it's infinitely harder to predict a record in baseball as opposed to football, for example.
However, I will focus on three key components that will determine the Giants' regular-season record.
Averaged 90 Wins the Past Four Seasons
The best way to predict a record is to look at how many wins the team finished with in years past. In 2009, the Giants won 88 games and fell just short of a playoff berth. In 2010, the Giants won the NL West with 92 wins. In 2011, the Giants regressed just a smidgen—more on this to follow—by winning 86 games, and in 2012 they finished with 94. That's an average of 90 wins a season over the past four years, which is quite impressive.
But the year I want to focus on is 2011, because the Giants were well on their way to winning the division before the injury bug infested the clubhouse.
The Giants had a four-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 29, and owned a record of 61-45.
Then, the flood gates opened up when the Cincinnati Reds came to town and swept the Giants. They proceeded to go 1-8 during that rough stretch, and were never able to overcome the swarm of injuries they sustained that season (the entire Giants' starting lineup outside of Aubrey Huff had been injured at one point of the season).
If it wasn't for the injuries that year, the Giants could've very well won the division and surpassed the 90-win mark that season.
The NL West Will Be a Weak Division
Outside of the Los Angeles Dodgers, no team in the division made any efforts to get stronger during the offseason. The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres, who both finished with under 80 wins last season, failed to make any significant additions. The Arizona Diamondbacks, on the other hand, traded away two of their best players, Justin Upton and Chris Young.
The Giants were 45-27 against their division rivals in 2012, which was the third-most divisional wins in the majors.
If the Giants can find a way to take care of business against the inferior opponents within their division, they could end up with around 45 wins against the NL West yet again.
Giants Had Key Players Underperform in 2012
First of all, this argument can go both ways. While there are players on teams that underperform, there are always some that exceed expectations. Last year, the Giants had Melky Cabrera for 113 games and he led the league in hits during that span. Marco Scutaro also batted .362 in 61 games for the Giants.
On the other hand, Tim Lincecum, one of the premier pitchers in the game prior to 2012, had one of the worst statistical seasons in baseball history.
Hunter Pence, despite his 45 RBI in in 59 games, batted just .219. His WAR rating in 2012 was 1.8, and his previous career-low was 3.2.
The most bizarre part about their seasons last year was that they're 28 and 29 years old, respectively. Those are the prime years in a baseball player's career. And while it's impossible to predict if those players improve from last year, it's not an outrageous claim to say that they'll both have better seasons in 2013.
Final prediction: 95-67