San Francisco Giants: 5 Reasons Why the Giants Could Win the World Series Again
Some argued that with the loss of Juan Uribe and World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, the Giants would have a huge hole that they would not be able to fill, but young guys like Brandon Crawford and Emmanuel Burriss could be on their way to proving themselves capable.
After all, the Giants have a better record at this point than they did last year and are in first place in their division.
Here are the top five reasons why they could repeat as champions.
5. Weak Division
The NL West only has two teams with a winning record. The Giants are one, and the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks are the other.
Although Kirk Gibson, who is making an early run for Manager of the Year, has the D-Backs playing well, it is hard to believe they will still be contending for the division lead in September.
Their hitting is no joke, but it is hard to see their pitching holding up all year. The top three of their starting rotation have been solid, but the bottom two, Josh Collmenter and Zach Duke, stir up some doubts.
Collmenter has been throwing well so far, but he simply does not eat up a lot of innings, which causes some concern for Arizona's bullpen. Duke, on the other hand, has posted an ugly 5.40 ERA.
The Colorado Rockies could still be the biggest threat to the Giants in the NL West, but they have many questions left to answer.
Their biggest concern is their pitching as well, mainly Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 3-8 with a 4.39 ERA on the year. Their lineup is stacked as long as everyone stays healthy, but if their starting pitchers cannot turn it around soon, their season could be over early.
At this point last year, the NL West was packed, and the Giants were in fourth place behind the Rockies, Dodgers and Padres. This year they are at the top of the standings, and only the Diamondbacks are within striking distance.
4. Just Get in
No one predicted the Giants to win the World Series at the beginning of 2010, and not many predicted them to win it all even after winning their division on the final day of the regular season.
Yet they showed once you make it into the postseason, anything can happen, especially when you have the pitching staff that they have.
The Giants' starting rotation really turned it on late in the regular season, while the San Diego Padres began to falter. The Padres led the division for the vast majority of the year but could not hang on at the end and were eliminated in San Francisco in game No. 162.
The Giants were slight favorites over wild-card winners the Atlanta Braves but were considered underdogs from then on.
Everyone thought the Philadelphia Phillies would cruise past the Giants in the NLCS with their powerful lineup and outstanding pitching. The Big Three featuring Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt got all the hype, but the Giants rotation out-pitched them.
Tim Lincecum out-dueled Halladay in Game 1, Matt Cain dominated against Hamels in Game 3 and Oswalt took the loss in Game 4 after coming out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth.
In the World Series, the Texas Rangers pitching staff was subpar, and the Giants rotation dominated once again.
The Giants blistered Cliff Lee for seven runs in less than five innings in Game 1 and then beat him again in the Game 5 clincher, while Lincecum got the win both times. The Rangers were shut out in Games 2 and 4, mainly thanks to Cain and Madison Bumgarner, and the Giants won the series four games to one.
All the Giants have to do this year is make it into the playoffs, and with essentially the exact same pitching staff they had last year, another ring is a possibility.
3. Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean
Last year in the postseason, every string Bruce Bochy pulled worked to perfection. He manages this stellar starting rotation and superb bullpen beautifully, playing the lefty/righty matchups like a mathematician, while sticking with his gut when he has to.
As well, you cannot speak highly enough about the way he has managed to keep the Giants in first place in their division this year despite all the injuries they have been plagued with.
The worst injuries of this remarkable list are Sanchez, who suffered a dislocated shoulder, and Posey, who broke his leg and tore some ligaments.
Posey is out for the year, and it is still questionable if Sanchez will be able to return at all this year.
Yet Bochy still has his team in first place nearing the All-Star break by mixing up the lineup almost every day, working with whoever has the hot hand at the time.
Brian Sabean has been highly criticized in his career as the Giants general manager. Many are quick to throw him under the bus because of signings like the ones of Zito and even more recently Miguel Tejada.
However, without the moves he pulled last season, the Giants do not win the World Series. Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez excelled out of the bullpen, and Pat Burrell provided many clutch hits down the stretch.
With plenty of time left before the trade deadline, expect Sabean to have a few more tricks up his sleeve.
The Giants have four All-Star pitchers this year. Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star Tim Lincecum is the headline here. He is followed by two-time All-Star Matt Cain, possible 2011 Comeback Player of the Year Ryan Vogelsong and two-time All-Star closer The Beard (Brian Wilson).
The other two spots in the starting rotation are currently being filled by 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner, who pitched eight shutout innings in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series while only giving up three hits, and former AL Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito, who is pitching nicely after recently coming off the disabled list.
Jonathan Sanchez, who opponents are only hitting .212 off of so far this year, is currently on the disabled list but should not be there for long and will provide extra support to an already spectacular rotation.
To top that off, the Giants have possibly the best bullpen in baseball, led by above-mentioned Brian Wilson.
Sergio Romo, whose beard is equally as impressive, has been one of the best setup guys in the game this year. Fellow right-hander Ramon Ramirez has been as solid as anyone.
Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez are proving to be much more than just left-handed specialists, and Guillermo Mota can eat up innings with the best of them in the rare case a Giants starter gets pulled early.
The Giants do not need any changes on this side of the ball, but it will be interesting to see what they do when Sanchez come off the DL.
1. "There's Magic Inside"
It is more than just a slogan. In San Francisco, they really do believe in magic.
The 2010 season was filled with clutch hits. Andres Torres, Pat Burrell and Juan Uribe had plenty of big at-bats down the stretch.
In the NLCS it was Cody Ross who hit two home runs off Roy Halladay in one game and was named the MVP of that series. In the World Series it was Edgar Renteria who hit what turned out to be the clinching home run off Cliff Lee, earning him the title of World Series MVP.
Just like last year, it seems like there is a new hero every time the Giants win in 2011. The offense certainly is no juggernaut by any stretch, scoring the second-fewest runs of any National League team.
However, someone always comes up with the big hit, whether it's Aubrey Huff, Pablo Sandoval or Nate Schierholtz. This year the Giants already have 10 walk-off wins. These magical moments really get their crowds going, all of which this year have been sellouts.
If the Giants can keep pitching well, keep scoring just enough runs and keep the magic alive, they could keep the World Series trophy safe at home in San Francisco.