Now that we have reached the one-quarter mark of the 2013 season, it's time to make some bold predictions for the San Francisco Giants.
At 24-17, the Giants currently hold a one-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. And if the Giants' early success is any indication for what is in store for them in September, this team will be in the thick of things down the stretch.
Here are bold predictions for three key players for the Giants for the remainder of the season.
Brandon Belt has been the most discussed prospect in recent memory, but for both the right and wrong reasons.
Once Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner reached the major leagues, Belt was the next top prospect to fly through the minor league ranks and earn a spot on the San Francisco Giants' roster.
Needless to say, expectations were high because all of the other prospects produced at a high level right out of the gate, which isn't how it always works for young players. The Giants organization has simply been fortunate to have their young players develop quickly.
This has only magnified Belt's early struggles, however, since he has not developed nearly as quickly as those previously mentioned.
After hitting 23 home runs in the minor leagues in 2010, he has only accumulated 21 since he made his major league debut in 2011.
However, after his slow start in 2013 due to a sickness that caused him to lose 11 pounds, it seems that Belt might have finally found his power stroke. With five home runs and 21 RBI in only 140 at-bats, Belt is on pace to hit over 20 home runs if he finishes the season with 550 at-bats.
If Belt is able to find his power stroke, this could be the year that the Giants lineup is officially made.
Depending on your definition of a team's ace, Madison Bumgarner could be the guy for the San Francisco Giants. And regardless of whether he's the ace of the staff, Bumgarner is the best pitcher on the Giants' roster at the moment.
With a 4-1 record and an ERA of 2.18, he—along with Patrick Corbin, Clayton Kershaw, Shelby Miller, Jordan Zimmermann and Matt Harvey—is among the best pitchers in the NL thus far.
Meanwhile, pitchers like Miller, Corbin and Harvey have not pitched deep into a season yet, so who knows how their arms will hold up down the stretch?
Bumgarner and Kershaw have the inside track to winning the NL Cy Young award this year, and rightly so, since they are the two best left-handed pitchers in the National League.
Whether or not this is the year for Bumgarner has yet to be determined, but his time will come and he will eventually take home the hardware.
The world finally learned what Pablo Sandoval is capable of after his three home run performance against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series last season. He is truly one of the league's most gifted hitters, but there has always been something impeding him from being recognized as an elite player.
After his breakout season in 2009, when he batted .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI, weight issues hindered him from being a factor in the San Francisco Giants' World Series run in 2010.
After getting off to a hot start in 2011, he then broke his right hamate bone. The same thing happened in 2012 when he broke the same bone in his left wrist, which forced him to miss a combined 99 games over those two years.
If Sandoval is able to stay healthy for the rest of the season—he doesn't have any more hamate bones to break, anyways—he could put up numbers similar to that of 2009. Couple that with the Giants making the postseason, and Sandoval could be next in line to bring home the NL MVP award.