NL West Division Title: 10 Reasons the Giants Could Win
Currently, the Giants are 3.5 games back of the Padres for the 1st place lead in the NL West. The Giants, however, are a growing team. They have acquired Chris Ray, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Mike Fontenot, and Jose Guillen, and mid-season call-ups Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner have added depth to the team. With a strong rotation featuring Zito, Cain, and Lincecum, and a deep lineup containing Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, and Pablo Sandoval, the team is very capable of moving up to 1st place. Here's why...
Pablo Sandoval has the ability to put up MVP-like numbers; or at the very least, all-star caliber numbers. Think I'm joking? In 194 games in '08 and '09 he batted a combined .333 with 28 home runs and 54 doubles. This season has been a disappointment, but there are many possible sources of these problems. The most probable source is the distraction of going through the process of divorce. Now that he has put that behind him, he'll be able to focus and do what he does best: hit.
When Brian Sabean signed Aubrey Huff, he faced a lot of criticism. Huff's defense was said to be mediocre, and critics didn't think that he had anything left in his bat. Huff has proven these people wrong by putting up amazing numbers: a slash line of .299/.393/.530 with 20 home runs, all while playing at a pitcher's park for half of his games. And his defense? It's been impressive - he's showed versatility by playing left field, right field, and first base, and he's done good work at all three positions.
Brian Wilson's Dominance
In a playoff chase, teams need a dominant closer that they can rely on to keep them in close games. Brian Wilson has been that unstoppable force, posting a 12.62 K/9, keeping walks to a minimum (3.33 BB/9), and keeping the ball in the ballpark (0.35 HR/9). His ERA is at 2.10.
Buster Posey's Rookie Campaign
In July, Buster Posey put together a 21-game hitting streak during which he batted .440 with 6 home runs. He was a force at the plate, leading the Giants to their first 20-win month since September 2000, while racking up the NL Rookie of the Month and NL Player of the Month awards.
The two-time Cy Young award winner is not having his best season, posting an uncharacteristic 3.41 ERA. However, he has not lost his ability to dominate batters, as evidenced by his 9.42 K/9. If the Freak can recapture his 2009 success, he will undoubtedly lead the Giants to many victories.
Andres Torres has had a breakout campaign in 2010, posting 5.1 WAR with a .292 batting average, 11 home runs, 37 doubles, 23 stolen bases, and playing amazing defense (26.9 UZR/150). He has been a catalyst, doing everything for the Giants from running to hitting to glove-work to throwing out runners.
The recent acquisitions of Mike Fontenot and Jose Guillen ensure that the Giants will have a deep bench, whether it contains Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz, Freddy Sanchez, Aaron Rowand, or the newly acquired players. This will give the Giants the pop, speed, and defense off of the bench which will undoubtedly be invaluable, especially in close games and extra-inning games.
Pat Burrell still has pop in his bat -- a lot of it. With the Giants in 2010, he's enjoyed an impressive .299/.390/.554 slash line with 10 home runs. His inclusion in the lineup always means another power threat for the opposing pitcher. His plate discipline has been just as incredible -- 26 walks in 187 plate appearances.
Aaron Rowand and Freddy Sanchez
Aaron Rowand and Freddy Sanchez have put up disappointing numbers this season, batting .247 and .260 respectively. This ensures that they wil have something to prove down the stretch. Aaron Rowand still has the skills to power the ball out of the park and Freddy Sanchez can still hit. They just need to rediscover these inherent skills, and they will certainly be motivated to do so as they make a run for the playoffs.
The Impending Returns of Affeldt and Runzler
With the injuries that befell Affeldt and Runzler, the Giants lost their two dominant left-handed relievers. As of now, the Giants' only left-handed reliever is Javier Lopez. When Affeldt and Runzler return, they will add depth to the bullpen, which will come in handy down the stretch.