The San Francisco Giants Have a Deep Lineup...Say Whaaaat?
From 2006-2009, the Giants lived and died with their pitching staff. And prior to 2009, they did nothing but die with their pitching staff because in each of the previous four seasons, San Francisco finished under .500.
But then came 2009, and the Giants pitching staff put together one of the best seasons a staff has ever had.
Tim Lincecum won a second straight Cy Young Award, Matt Cain was an All-Star, Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter, Randy Johnson provided quality starts and won his 300th game, and set-up man Jeremy Affeldt was the reliever of the year for the MLB.
The rest of the staff filled their roles and drove the team to an impressive 88-74 record despite scoring an abysmal 657 runs on offense.
Now with the same staff (more or less) back for a second straight year, the question was if the Giants could put together a lineup that would catapult them to the playoffs.
Well, that lineup has arrived.
Finally, the Giants have a lineup of multiple threats instead of automatic outs like Randy Winn, Dave Roberts, Edgar Renteria, Aaron Rowand, and Travis Ishikawa.
Now could the Giants still use that prototypical 40 homer bat in the middle of the lineup? Sure, and they will probably need said hitter if they want to consistently make the postseason year-in and year-out.
But for 2010? The lineup is finally shaping up into a formidable attack. From No. 1-7, the Giants have consistently productive hitters.
Never mind the struggles of Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, and Nate Schierholtz, only one of those three seems to be in the lineup on any given game.
And the rest of the seven starters are producing big time.
Andres Torres, Freddy Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell, and Buster Posey make up the top seven hitters in the Giants lineup in recent weeks.
San Francisco may be lucky to have a single one of them hit over 30 homers, but both Huff and Uribe are on pace for 25, Sandoval hit 25 last season, Burrell hit 33 two years ago with Philadelphia, and the trio of Torres, Sanchez, and Posey are elite gap-to-gap hitters who can all work counts.
It didn't matter for the Giants that the recently on fire Buster Posey went 0-8 these past two games against Oakland, because when any of these hitters has an off day, somebody else goes off for a gigantic day.
San Francisco completed the sweep of the A's this afternoon behind a pair of two-run homers by Aubrey Huff.
Coming into the series finale with Oakland, Huff was hitting right at .300 and with his big day at the plate today he now has an OPS over .900.
Combine his year thus far with his partner in crime Juan Uribe, and the Giants have a dangerous middle of the order.
Uribe, whose career averages are as follows: .258/.301/.433/.744 and whose career marks in home runs and RBI are 23 and 74, was hitting .291/.358/.478/.836 with nine homers and 40 RBI coming into Sunday's game.
He now has 10 homers and 41 RBI on the season, on pace for 28 homers and 119 RBI.
Talk about having a year to remember, and one that actually isn't surprising to the Giants brass.
Earlier this year, a bunch of Giants management and coaches stated that they feel Uribe is clearly a better player now than he was when he won the World Series with the White Sox back in 2005.
And with Uribe's numbers in two years as a Giant, clearly San Francisco has scored with the veteran shortstop.
He's on pace to shatter his career averages as well as blow by his career mark in RBI and he is only making $3.5 million this season!
Add that to the fact Huff is only making three million this year, and the Giants have a two-headed monster in the heart of their order that is only making a combined 6.5 million.
So while Giants fans can complain about the undeserved fat contracts to Rowand, Renteria, and Zito, at least GM Brian Sabean has found a couple of gems for cheap.
Furthermore, the newest Giant Pat Burrell is another offensive force that the Giants are paying very little for what so far has been tons of production.
Now fans shouldn't get too excited, as the Giants don't yet have an offense that can consistently win them the division year after year.
And plenty of other teams have a scarier "two-headed monster" than the Giants but when it comes to right here and now, Giant fans should be riding high with the utmost confidence.
The way their team has played the last few weeks should continue over the course of the season. And if it does, the Giants will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
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