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Why Everyone's Worried About the Giants

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01:  San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy sits in the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Giants 4-3.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Manny RandhawaCorrespondent IIIJuly 9, 2011

The euphoria of a long-awaited world championship could only last so long before worry crept into the minds of the Giants faithful.

Can they do it again?

It was so close to not happening at all.

If the Padres had won one more game last season, the Giants might never have seen the playoffs.

If it weren't for Brooks Conrad of the Braves letting a Buster Posey grounder go through his legs in the NLDS, there might not have been a parade down Market Street last November.

If Cody Ross didn't become a home run machine in October, that commissioner's trophy would be sitting in another team's showroom.

It was all so...torturous.

Now, in the season following an unlikely world championship for the San Francisco Giants, the club has been decimated by injuries, including the loss of their captain, catcher and cleanup hitter Buster Posey.

They're hitting .242 as a team, 25th in the big leagues.

They rank 27th in runs scored out of 30 MLB teams.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 8: Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants is taken out of the game and hands the ball over to manager Bruce Bochy #15 after giving up the lead against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 9th inning during a MLB baseball game at
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Closer Brian Wilson has already blown four saves and destroyed a water cooler in the process.

The Giants, a team built on stellar pitching, are sixth in the major leagues in walks issued (fourth in the NL).

Perhaps the most frustrating fact of all for anyone worried about all of these ugly statistics: The Giants are 50-40 and in first place in their division.

Agggh.

Why is this team doing so well? It just doesn't make any sense!

That's why we worry.

Baseball is a game with a foundation in statistics. Statistics can explain all things baseball, and we look to them to give us guidance on what to expect next, whether it be the next pitch, the next inning, the next game or the next season.

Sure, there are many statistics that can partially explain why this team has been successful in spite of seemingly insurmountable setbacks.

For instance, the Giants are second in the National League in opponents' batting average (.232) and third in the league in ERA (3.23).

The Giants also have the most walk-off victories in the majors, the 10th coming last Wednesday night on Nate Schierholtz's game-winning homer in the 14th inning against the Padres.

But the stats leave much to be desired in the quest to discover the secret to this club's success. That can only be left to what we'll call "the intangible."

Why so many walk-offs for an offense that has sputtered all season long?

And why no discernible difference between the Giants' current win-loss record and what we all thought their record would probably look like even if Posey wasn't lost for the season?

There's something else here.

Sure, Bruce Bochy is a brilliant manager, but even his tactical prowess can't account for all of San Francisco's success thus far in 2011 despite so many severe obstacles being thrown in the way.

That something else, the "intangible," is what gives this team its mystique and causes observers of Giants baseball to marvel at the results.

Maybe it's in Brian Wilson's beard. Maybe it's in Cody Ross' warpaint-style eye black or his infectious laugh.

Maybe it's in Pablo Sandoval's flair when he hits a bomb. Maybe it's in Sergio Romo's celebratory dance off the mound after retiring the side in a jam.

Whatever it is, the Giants know something we don't—and if we want to get through another season of torture, particularly intensified as we approach the second half, we'd better start to relax a little bit, knowing that the "intangible" will usually get the job done.

Will the Giants repeat as world champions in 2011? Who knows? But one thing's for sure: This team has as good a chance as any because of that magic you can't put your finger on.

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