Though the magic of the San Francisco Giants' amazing 2010 championship season still lingers in Giants fans' fading memories, the disappointing 2011 campaign has already been entirely forgotten. For Giants fans and fans of all but one major league club, the old Brooklyn Dodger rallying cry—"Wait til next year!"—helps to ward off the defeated chill of a bitter winter, promising hope for better days.
For the San Francisco Giants, there is reason for optimism. The nucleus of the 2010 championship team—its incomparable pitching staff—remains largely intact.
Nevertheless, as the 2011 season demonstrated, even superb pitching cannot prevail without at least modest run production. The Giants' anemic 2010 run total—only 570 runs, less than every team in baseball except the Seattle Mariners—leaves all too much to be modest about.
The challenge for the Giants in 2012 will be to improve run production, if not to the level of the Cardinals, Mets or Brewers, then at least enough to exceed the team's 3.20 2011 ERA. In the slides that follow, we identify five keys for reaching that goal and making the play-offs in 2012.