San Francisco Giants: Predicting Their Opening Day Starting Lineup for 2012

Kyle RobertsContributor IIIDecember 10, 2011

San Francisco Giants: Predicting Their Opening Day Starting Lineup for 2012

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    The San Francisco Giants were undone in the 2011 MLB season by their anemic offense. 

    In response, the Giants' front office has already traded for Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. 

    Will any other players be signed? Will any prospects crack the opening day lineup? How about Carlos Beltran?

    Here is San Francisco's projected 2012 lineup on opening day. 

1. Angel Pagan, CF

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    The decision to bring in Angel Pagan as a leadoff hitter may seem puzzling. After all, he posted a paltry .322 OBP with the New York Mets last year. 

    However, Pagan does have a noticeable upside. As recently as 2010, he posted an impressive 5.1 WAR.

    With the added incentive of a contract year, Pagan has a chance to bounce back big in 2012. 

2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

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    Freddy Sanchez will be looking to improve on his injury-plagued 2011 season. In 60 games, Sanchez posted a line of .289/.332/.397.

    He still provides decent offense for a second baseman, but at age 34, he might be entering the declining phase of his career. 

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

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    Despite only playing 117 games in 2011, Pablo Sandoval had his best season from a sabermetric standpoint. His 153 OPS+ resulted in a 6.1 WAR.

    Still only 25 years old at the beginning of the 2012 season, Sandoval should continue to get even better than he already is. 

4. Buster Posey, C

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    Buster Posey is on track to start opening day after suffering a season-ending injury in May of last year.

    He'll look to return to the level that netted him the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year. If Posey keeps that pace, he'll be a star for many years to come.

    Also look for Posey to spend some time at first base as an injury precaution.

5. Melky Cabrera, LF

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    Acquiring Melky Cabrera in exchange for Johnathan Sanchez was a risky move by GM Brian Sabean. It's unclear if Cabrera's 2011 season, in which he batted .305 with 18 homers, was an aberration of a sign of things to come.

    Regardless, Cabrera should be moved to left field, as advance metrics rate him as a poor defensive center fielder.

6. Brandon Belt, 1B

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    Prospect Brandon Belt gets the nod over veteran Aubrey Huff. 

    Belt showed a little of his prodigious power in 2011, hitting nine home runs after being called up to the big club. 

    The Giants, however, will want to see more from the potential star in 2012. Hopefully he'll add some needed pop to San Francisco's lineup.

7. Ryan Ludwick, RF

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    The idea of Carlos Beltran returning seems almost impossible. A much cheaper consolation will be Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Ryan Ludwick.

    Honestly, Ludwick isn't much of an improvement from Nate Schierholtz, but Ludwick did smack 37 homers with the Cardinals in 2008.

    The 33-year-old won't repeat that feat, but he does have some power left in his bat.

8. Brandon Crawford, SS

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    Expect the Giants to settle with Brandon Crawford instead of looking for free-agent shortstop help. On the bright side, he does have the reputation as a very good defensive shortstop.

    That said, they're going to want more from his bat than what he showed in 2011. In 66 games, he had a dismal OPS+ of 66. In all, WAR saw him as almost exactly replacement level. 

9. Tim Lincecum, P

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    Some have speculated that Tim Lincecum should be traded. Don't expect the San Francisco Giants to consider it for a second.

    Sure, the two-time Cy Young winner gets more expensive every year. Considering his immense accomplishments, the Giants are going to have to accept that for the time being.