San Francisco Giants: Ranking the April MLB All-Stars
Though it's still too early to determine who will take the field in Phoenix for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, it's always worth a look back at who has played well in the first month of the new season.
The San Francisco Giants are looking forward to having their manager, Bruce Bochy, lead the National League All-Stars and to having the most All-Stars from San Francisco in nearly a decade.
Here's a look at the Giants All-Stars from the month of April, ranked in order of their impact for the club.
5. Tim Lincecum
Through the first month of the 2011 season, Tim Lincecum picked up right where he left off in 2010, dominating opposing hitters and compiling amazing strikeout totals.
Lincecum took a rough loss in the season opener in Los Angeles, despite giving up just one run on five hits over seven innings against the Dodgers.
Timmy bounced back, however, against the Padres and Rockies. Lincecum fanned 13 Padres at Petco Park in seven innings of work on April 6, and struck out 10 while allowing just one run on three hits against the Rockies at Coors Field on April 18.
So far, Lincecum is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 38 strikeouts. With his next double-digit strikeout performance, Lincecum, who is in just his fifth major league season, will surpass the franchise record of 28 double-digit strikeout games set by Christy Matthewson over a 17-year career.
Needless to say, Tim Lincecum's arm has been a huge key for the Giants in April.
4. Buster Posey
The 2010 Rookie of the Year entered 2011 with the expectations of an entire city on his shoulders. He hasn't disappointed.
If you ask Buster Posey, he'd probably say he's not too happy with a .259 batting average so far. But the batting average will come up, and Posey's four home runs and team-leading 17 RBI have been key ingredients to the Giants offensive attack.
Four home runs and 17 RBIs per month would get you a season total of about 24 home runs and 102 RBI. Not too bad at all.
3. Sergio Romo
Sergio Romo has made one fatal mistake on the diamond so far in 2011. He hung a pitch to Dan Uggla and Uggla tied the game after the Giants had rallied to come from behind on April 24 against Atlanta.
While the Giants would lose that game in heart-breaking fashion, everything else Sergio Romo has done out of the bullpen for Bruce Bochy has been stellar.
Romo has appeared in 11 games, and save for the Uggla incident, he hasn't allowed a run. In 8.2 innings, Romo has given up just four hits and struck out 12, putting up some clutch zeroes on the scoreboard that have enabled the Giants to win several one-run ballgames in April.
2. Pablo Sandoval
Pablo Sandoval used the month of April to show Giants fans, and especially opposing pitchers, that he's back.
The Kung-Fu-Panda is hitting .325 with a team-leading five home runs and 14 RBI so far, and is off to the start we all hoped for when he showed up to spring training 40 pounds lighter.
Sandoval's resurgence has undoubtedly sparked confidence in the Giants lineup that led to a barrage of home runs early in the month. The club is currently sixth in the league with 23 homers for the season.
The Giants MVP for April: Aaron Rowand
Interestingly enough, the Giants most valuable player for the first month of the season is not on anyone's short list for making the National League All-Star team this summer. And in all likelihood, he won't.
But when Andres Torres was sidelined due to an Achilles injury, Aaron Rowand got a shot and took advantage of it.
Rowand delivered the game-winning hit in the Giants' 5-4 home opener victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on April 8, getting the walk-off hit in the home opener for the second straight season.
Then, on April 24, Rowand hit a clutch two-run double to put the Giants ahead in the seventh inning to cap off a furious late game comeback against the Atlanta Braves. Though the Giants would go on to lose that game, Rowand came up big.
Most recently, in a game that was as close to a must-win as you can get this early in the season, Rowand produced virtually all of the offense in the Giants' 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 28.
San Francisco had been shut out, 2-0, the previous night and had seen their once productive offense go deathly silent. That's when Rowand came through with two doubles and a steal of home to give the Giants the spark they needed.
Had it not been for Rowand's 3-5, three RBI performance in Pittsburgh that day, the Giants could have lost the series to the Pirates, dropping six out of their last seven games. That could have led to many Giants fans pressing the panic button.
Rowand is hitting .286 with one home run and 8 RBI. Though several Giants, including Sandoval and Posey, have better numbers, no one has delivered more clutch hits so far than Aaron Rowand.
Andres Torres will return from the disabled list soon, and whatever happens with Aaron Rowand the rest of the season, he's had an April to remember.