To say that the National League is full of flawed teams would be an understatement, like saying "The Hangover" is funny, our economy is bad,or that Artie Lange went a little overboard on HBO Monday night.
The Phillies, the reigning World Champions and prohibitive preseason favorite, have gaping--GAPING--holes in their rotation. The Dodgers, currently in first place in the NL, have absolutely no power hitting and a suspect bullpen. The Mets were never that good and keep getting worse, and no team in the NL Central is on pace to win more than 90 games. So, with that in mind, let me be the first to pick the 2009 National League sleeper team:
The San Francisco Giants.
The Giants? Yes, the Giants. The 34-30 team whose leading home run hitter has 10 on the year and who has only three regulars hitting over .265 is my surprise pick to win the National League.
Why, you ask? Four words: Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum.
The Giants' co-aces have gone a combined 15-2 so far this year with a 2.52 ERA. And that's not a fluke; Lincecum and his oft- scrutinized delivery are less than a year removed from winning the Cy Young award, and Cain has been putting up stellar stats for three years now, albeit doing it in the relative obscurity of the Pacific Time Zone.
Combine those two studs with Randy Johnson and a seemingly rejuvenated Barry Zito and you have a rotation that nobody--especially the lefty-heavy Phillies--wants to face in a 5-game playoff series.
As long as their hitting gets them to the playoffs--and yes, a 2-1 win does, in fact, count as much as an 8-5 win--the Giants will be a force to be reckoned with. And with more than 40 games left against the weak parts of the NL West, the Giants might just have enough to leave the rest of the National League feeling a little hungover.