San Francisco Giants: Predicting Melky Cabrera and the 2012 Opening Day Lineup
This makes predicting the 2012 opening day lineup even more challenging, but it's time to give it a go.
Will Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez be healthy enough?
Will the Giants sign any other big names?
These questions and more will be answered in the following prediction.
No. 1. CF, Melky Cabrera
Yep, it looks like Melky Cabrera is the current frontrunner to be the leadoff hitter for the Giants in 2012.
There's no need to play Andres Torres now that Cabrera is here, and it's doubtful that Brian Sabean reaches out and grabs a pure leadoff hitter.
Cabrera is a good pickup, who has outperformed his contract over the past few years, and the Giants are lucky to have him.
No. 2. 2B, Freddy Sanchez
There's no doubt that Freddy Sanchez's health will be in question up until the season begins in April.
I have to lean toward the side of Sanchez being able to play, simply because he is a pure athlete and will do everything he possibly can to get on the field for opening day.
Sanchez should start in his normal slot which is second.
No. 3. C, Buster Posey
Another good story should come out of the Buster Posey camp.
He's still rehabbing, but he's on the right track to return before the start of the season. It's most likely Bruce Bochy puts Posey at the third spot, which is where he excelled in 2010.
No. 4. 3B, Pablo Sandoval
Pablo Sandoval had a mediocre 2011 season, but is preparing for a dynamite comeback in 2012, assuming he can stay healthy.
There are a few choices of who could play the cleanup role for the Giants, but when Sandoval is hot, he's definitely the best option.
The key is whether he can keep that spot.
No. 5. RF, Carlos Beltran
I'm probably betting on a longshot here, but the Giants need Carlos Beltran for one more year, and considering he's said he would like to return to San Francisco, there's still a chance he could come back.
If the Giants do re-sign Beltran, he would either be put at the third, fourth or fifth spot in the lineup. I think Posey is much more valuable batting third, and Beltran is at his best batting fifth.
No. 6. 1B, Aubrey Huff
The Giants still have Aubrey Huff for another year, and they show no signs of wanting to start Brandon Belt ahead of him, so it looks like the veteran will be in the starting lineup again in 2012.
Hopefully he goes nowhere near the top five, because he hasn't proven he can be consistent, and barely deserved a starting job after his terrible performance in 2011.
Sixth is still a little high for Huff to be starting, but this is the Giants, and this is their reality.
No. 7. LF, Nate Schierholtz
Nate Schierholtz was the Giants most clutch hitter in 2011, and probably won them five games at the very least with spectacular plays offensively and defensively.
He deserves to start again next season, and there is a nice spot open for him in left field.
He also fits nicely behind Huff at the seventh spot in the lineup.
No. 8. SS, Brandon Crawford
The shortstop position for the Giants is basically up for grabs right now.
Brandon Crawford is my selection, but there are countless other names floating around, including Jimmy Rollins.
While acquiring Rollins is highly unlikely, the Giants being forced to start Crawford is not. They will definitely stash him at the bottom of the lineup so his poor offense won't affect the game too much.
No. 9. SP, Tim Lincecum
While it definitely could be argued that Matt Cain deserves a chance to be the No. 1 starter for the Giants, I think it's relatively safe to say that Tim Lincecum will get the nod once again.
Fans were down on Lincecum last year, mostly because he was so inconsistent at times, but he finished the season as a top 10 pitcher with a high strikeout total. So there's not much more we can ask of him.
Hopefully with the new lineup, the Giants will be able to generate more run support for the pitching staff, which could lead to an NL West crown.