5 Bold Predictions for the San Francisco Giants in 2014
With Opening Day just around the corner, the San Francisco Giants are looking to redeem themselves after a 76-86 record in 2013.
The Giants have won two out of the last four World Series, but there are some serious question marks about their 2014 club.
Can their starting pitching return to old form? Will Pablo Sandoval have a productive season? Can their defense improve?
Here are five bold predictions for the Giants in 2014.
Madison Bumgarner Wins the Cy Young
While Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright and Jose Fernandez may be the early favorites to win the NL Cy Young Award, Madison Bumgarner will fly under the radar and take home the hardware.
The lefty had his best season in the big leagues last year when he went 13-9 with a 2.77 ERA. He made his first All-Star Game and became the Giants' most reliable starting pitcher.
In a stretch from June 19 to August 1, he did not allow more than two earned runs in a start and registered a 1.55 ERA during July.
For the third consecutive season, Bumgarner threw 200-plus innings and had more than 190 strikeouts.
He should have high expectations this season because he has done nothing but improve throughout his young career.
He has proved that he can be an elite pitcher and will add an NL Cy Young Award to his resume in 2014.
Pablo Sandoval Hits 30 Home Runs
There is no getting around the fact that this is a big year for the "Kung Fu Panda." It is the last season of his three-year deal, and he will be looking for big money in the near future.
How will Sandoval force the Giants to lock him up long term? He will hit at least 30 home runs.
If he can maintain his new sleek look, he is capable of hitting for a lot of power as he did in 2009 and 2011.
According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, Sandoval will disclose how much weight he has lost the day before spring training.
After watching his team win the 2010 World Series from the bench, he spent the offseason getting into better shape and came back to hit .315 with 23 home runs in 2011.
This year presents a very similar situation.
Can Sandoval redeem himself yet again and bring back his 2009 or 2011 self?
Brandon Crawford Wins a Gold Glove
Brandon Crawford is about as smooth as they come at shortstop.
He has outstanding range, a cannon for an arm and better footwork than Michelle Kwan. He dazzled in the field last season but still committed 15 errors, with four of them coming in May.
The young shortstop will be challenging Andrelton Simmons, Ian Desmond and Troy Tulowitzki for a Gold Glove.
If Crawford can limit his errors early in the season, he has every chance to win the award.
They Return to the NLCS
Because the Dodgers won the NL West last year, the Giants are no longer the hunted in the division.
If they can make the postseason, everybody has seen how dangerous they can be in the past.
Their strong starting rotation can be lethal come playoff time. Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong need to have bounce-back years in order for the team to go far in the playoffs.
If their pitching can hold up, the Giants have the potential to make a deep run into October baseball.
Sergio Romo Gets 40 Saves
Sergio Romo has proved the last two seasons that he can be an elite closer without throwing 100 mph.
He dominated in the 2012 playoffs and continued his success last season when he turned in 38 saves—third most in the National League.
He will be ready this year to take the next step and become a 40-save closer, which no Giants pitcher has done since the 2010 season.
Romo is a strike thrower who allowed just 12 walks in 60.1 innings of work last season. If he can continue to toy with hitters by using his devastating slider, look for him to rack up the saves this season.
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