Here are some bold (or, perhaps, not so bold) predictions as the Giants move forward with the 2014 season.
First, starting rotation newcomer Tim Hudson will continue his dominance the rest of the year. The veteran workhorse shows no signs of slowing down.
As far as the larger picture as it pertains to the pitching staff, the Giants will regain their reputation of stingy starting pitching and even stingier bullpen arms. The Giants rank fourth in all of MLB in ERA (3.12), and more obscure but possibly more importantly, have only allowed 94 walks, second best in the majors.
Their WHIP is a deadly 1.19.
Parts of the starting rotation are struggling (Tim Lincecum's 5.55 ERA, Matt Cain's unfortunate injury), staff ace Madison Bumgarner is pitching like, well, an ace and Ryan Vogelsong appears to have fixed a mishap in his mechanics in his past few starts.
These are all good signs, as the Giants offense continues to improve but remains inconsistent. With first baseman Brandon Belt out with a broken thumb, key members of the Giants lineup need to stop slumping and start producing.
Which brings us to our next slew of predictions...
First, Belt will have his first 20-plus home run season. Considering he's already hit nine and showed no signs of slowing down until his injury, that might not sound like such a bold prediction. And, Belt came close in 2013, crushing 17. But that's not enough for a player with so much power-upside. Mark it: this'll be the season Belt surpasses the 20 home run mark, and quite possibly by a landslide.
Other G-men, such as Hunter Pence, Michael Morse and Buster Posey also have the ability to surpass the 20+ home run mark this season.
Another positive prediction: Posey will contend for a batting title and MVP award again. He's already lifted his average to .306, and has an overall line of .306/.403/.492 this season.
And, he's added seven home runs. The Giants probably won't sustain the power tear they are currently on, but should rank in the top half of the league in home runs.
Sadly, while the Giants have been playing exceptional baseball straight out of the gate this year, it can't be all roses and sunshine in 2014.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval is looking to have another up-and-down season. He's slumping already—batting an almost inexcusable .189, but don't expect a Sandoval trade, at least not this season. The Giants simply don't have enough infield depth and they have faith Sandoval can produce, at least more than any current alternatives.
Let's save any postseason talk until we get closer to the All-Star break, but given how the Giants are playing, they are definite contenders in the NL West. However, the Colorado Rockies are surging and the Dodgers are obviously dangerous.
Still, all signs are pointing to a rebound season for the San Francisco Giants.
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