Bold Predictions: 5 Reasons the San Francisco Giants Will Win the NL
For the first time in years, the San Francisco Giants have a respectable offense. Led by the trio of All-Stars in Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, the Giants have put together an impressive season thus far offensively.
Only one team in baseball has two players in the top 10 in batting average (Cabrera and Posey) and the Nationals are the only team other than the Giants to have two starting pitchers with ERAs under 3.00.
Put together the following five reasons and the Giants have more than just a realistic shot at the National League pennant.
1. Buster Posey Is an MVP Candidate Almost Solely Based on His Second-Half Play
As mentioned in the introductory slide, Posey’s .332 average is good for one of the best in the majors.
That number is even more impressive when you consider his mediocre .289 first-half average. The nearly fifty-point increase has occurred in the 27 games since the All-Star break in which Posey has hit a scorching .449 with nine home runs.
Posey may not look like the prototypical middle-of-the-lineup slugger, but he gets the job done efficiently and effectively. He is a leader in the clubhouse and on the field, and someone who the Giants will certainly lean on when they make their playoff push.
He showed he was capable of carrying a heavy load in their 2010 championship and has only gotten better and gained experience in his nearly two years since then.
2. Melky Cabrera Is Leading the Offense to the Best It’s Been in Years
Nobody could have expected Melky “The Melk Man” Cabrera to have the year he is having for the Giants.
Earning All-Star Game MVP honors, even rival Dodger Matt Kemp told him, “you can hit.”
His .348 average does not lie. Cabrera is becoming one of the game's best, and the Giants could not be happier. He is a jovial player and someone who fits nicely into a clubhouse with personalities like Pablo Sandoval.
The question is, though, would the Royals have traded Cabrera if they knew what they now know about him?
3. The Starting Pitchers Are Dominant
Ryan Vogelsong is a Cy Young candidate with his 2.72 ERA and only 50 walks in 145 innings pitched.
Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are top five in the league with identical 1.03 WHIP (a sabermetric statistic that measures baserunners per inning pitched).
Tim Lincecum has been much worse than one would expect of a two-time Cy Young Award winner, but the Giants will retain hope that he can figure it out and decrease his abysmal 5.35 ERA.
Even Barry Zito, the most overpaid player on the Giants roster, is having his best season as a Giant. His 9-8 record is just above .500 and he has put together some rather impressive starts over the course of the regular season. (And yes, Zito’s “best season” only means so much considering he has never had a winning record in a Giants uniform nor a season with an ERA below 4.00.)
As fellow B/R featured columnist Kyle Brown pointed out, San Francisco’s bullpen may be a weak spot. But if the starters can limit the innings for the bullpen, that weakness can be hidden.
4. Hunter Pence’s Best Baseball Is Ahead of Him
Hunter Pence’s contract may be daunting, but if he plays to his true ability, he will be more than worth it.
Pence has undoubtedly gotten off to a very slow start with the Giants, hitting .154 with one home run in 12 games in the orange and black. However, his energy is something that will benefit the Giants down the stretch and he does not have the same pressure that Aaron Rowand did when he came over from the Philadelphia Phillies.
His three-run home run to give the Giants the lead in Sunday’s game against the Rockies may be the trigger that settles Pence down. Not only that, but he has Cabrera to lean on in the outfield. Pence will find his niche with the Giants.
Once he does that, the San Francisco offense will be right there with the best in baseball.
5. The Giants Have Playoff Experience
The current Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates are all very new to the playoff race. The Braves and the Dodgers are not even the best teams in their division, even though they are certainly legitimate threats in the playoffs.
The core nucleus of the 2010 championship team is still in San Francisco, and even Melky Cabrera and Hunter Pence had some playoff experience (as members of the New York Yankees and Phillies, respectively).
San Francisco still is not given the respect they deserve—and have earned—but they will once again show the nation that Giants baseball is here to torture not only Giants fans, but also the rest of baseball.