Life After Barry: How San Francisco Became Contenders Again

chris faliteContributor IJune 28, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 21:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants waits in the filed against the Texas Rangers during a Major League Baseball game on June 21, 2009 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The Giants, now without Barry Bonds, will need to find a new way to fill the seats and, in doing so, fast.  Along with one of the league's worst offenses, San Fran hasn't played in October since 2003—not much of a selling point to fans.  But with some exceptional homegrown talent and a few key veterans, now, in 2009, the Giants are ready to contend again.

Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, and Pablo Sandoval this year have all proved that they can turn a team aroundeven at their young ages.  Plus, with the veteran additions like Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, and the Hall of Fame-bound Randy Johnson, the Giants have really matured into a legit ball club.

Sandoval, the 22-year-old rookie from Venezuela, might be the most impressive out of this group.  With a batting average of .340 and an OPS of .964 he leads all ML rookies in each category respectively while ranking second in batting among the Senior Circuit players.    

Lincecum is doing his job again after his 2008 National League Cy Young Award.  It might be hard to duplicate or top his phenomenal '08 season, but the 25-year-old is making a case for it.  So far this season, Lincecum has struck out 124 in 105 innings while only giving up more than three earned runs twice this season.  

Matt Cain is tied for the NL lead in wins (nine) and second in era (2.57), ironically tied with teammate Tim Lincecum, trailing only NL leader Dan Harenastonishing when you realize he's actually a year younger than Lincecum.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

From the beginning of the game when your starters establish the box score, to the instances of the game when your hitters alter it, you must have the anchor at the end of the shipsomething to hold you down or keep you secured.  Closer Brian Wilson, another farm system product of the Giants, is tied for the NL lead in saves and posting a very respectable mid-3.00 ERA.  Not too shabby for a guy that recorded 41 saves last season with an ERA in the high-fours. 

The Giants are led by their two-headed monster at the top of the rotation and a very good bullpen thus far this season.  Their pitching staff, as a whole, ranks second in the NL in ERA and third in batting average against, while even ranked seventh in quality starts.

Even Barry Zito has been a pleasant surprise this season.  After practically falling off the face of the earthas far as a former Cy Young Award winner is concernedZito has gotten back to somewhat respectable terms with himself.  Although his ERA is somewhat high at 4.55, more importantly Zito hasn't left his bullpen out to dry by pitching through the fifth inning in 13-of-15 starts this season.  Not bad for a guy that lost 17 games last year.

While their offense has still struggled most of the time, Sandoval and Molina have still managed to do enough to reach second place in the NL west.  

Today, after beating the Brewers 7-0, the Giants have also propelled themselves into the lead in the Wild Card racethus making themselves contenders rather than pretenders as we enter the halfway point of the season.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!