San Francisco Giants: Why Things Will Only Get Better from Here for SF
The defending world champion San Francisco Giants have played 35 games so far in 2011, and the stats, especially offensively, don't look good.
The Giants are hitting .234 as a team (24th out of 30 major league teams). Their on-base percentage is .301 (26th in the majors). Their slugging percentage? A dismal .361 (24th in the majors). And they've scored just 121 runs, placing them higher than only the Padres and Twins in that department.
Without having seen the Giants' win-loss record thus far, and only having those numbers to go by, a Giants fan would cringe at the thought of taking a peek at the standings.
It's okay, Giants fan, you can open your eyes: the Giants are 19-16, a half-game behind the Rockies in the NL West.
How did they pull that off? And what does this mean for the rest of the season? If you're a Giants fan, there's a lot to be optimistic about.
Why They're 19-16: Pitching
Matt Cain has been his usual, reliable self for the Giants
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Despite San Francisco's offensive woes so far in 2011, their mainstay, the pitching staff, has been excellent.
The Giants currently lead all of baseball in opponent's batting average, at .218. They are second only to Philadelphia in strikeouts with 294 (to the Phillies' 297), and they are fifth in the majors with an ERA of 3.19.
San Francisco is tied for third in the majors in runs allowed (121).
Why They're 19-16: Bruce Bochy
Bruce Bochy has navigated stormy waters for the Giants during the first five weeks of 2011
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Bruce Bochy's club came into the season as defending champions, but 2011 hasn't at all been easy for the Giants' skipper so far.
With injuries to his leadoff man and offensive spark-plug Andres Torres, utility-man Mark DeRosa, fifth starter Barry Zito and most recently, his best offensive weapon Pablo Sandoval, Bochy has had his work cut out for him in trying to keep San Francisco afloat in the National League West.
And Bochy's boys had to play 22 of their first 31 games on the road to boot.
You've got to credit the manager of a team that can weather a storm like that to start a season, and Bruce Bochy has proven himself to be adept at making the right moves when it counts.
Why Things Will Only Get Better from Here: Return of Injured Stars
When Pablo Sandoval returns, the Giants will have their best hitter back
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When Pablo Sandoval broke a bone in his hand, the Giants were in the middle of a terrible offensive slump, and the news of the Panda's injury led some to panic over San Francisco's prospects of being able to compete without significant offensive production.
But as we can now see, others have stepped up in Sandoval's absence, as well as the absence of other key role players such as Andres Torres.
In the case of Torres' injury, Aaron Rowand stepped up and produced admirably for San Francisco, providing key hits in clutch situations to help the Giants win several games.
With the recent return of Andres Torres and Mark DeRosa, and the eventual return of Pablo Sandoval in roughly four weeks, the Giants will be at full strength offensively.
Given how their pitching staff has performed and their current win-loss record, the Giants are primed to make a huge run in the West once all of their personnel are healthy.
Why Things Will Only Get Better: The Law of Averages
Buster Posey is off to a slow start, but the law of averages would suggest that he'll recover
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Many of the Giants' key hitters have been mired in terrible slumps to start the season, and somehow, the Giants are still just fine in the NL West.
Aubrey Huff, San Francisco's leader in both home runs and RBI last season, is hitting just .210 with three home runs and 16 RBI.
Buster Posey, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year and offensive stalwart last season, is hitting just .243.
But as many followers of the game know, at some point the law of averages kicks in, and things begin to even out.
If that's true, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey, as well as many other Giants hitters that have struggled at the plate in the early going, are going to turn things around.
Expect Huff and Posey to both approach the .300 batting average mark this summer and stay right around there the rest of the season.
Why Things Will Only Get Better: More Home Cookin'
The Giants have already won 5 home games in walk-off fashion this season
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The Giants played 22 of their first 31 games of the season away from AT&T Park and the fans that electrified this club and propelled it to the World Series title in 2010.
They were glad to be back home Friday night when they opened a three-game series against the Rockies, and it showed.
The Giants swept those Colorado Rockies, and then took the first of a three-game set from the Diamondbacks Tuesday night. Three of the four wins were walk-off victories, thrilling sell-out crowds night after night.
The Giants play very well in front of their fans at home, and we can expect more exciting victories at the corner of Third and King streets in San Francisco.