Last year at this time the San Francisco Giants were rock stars. They were the defending World Series Champions and they were marveled at for their eccentricity, their chemistry, and their unique style of play.
Then the season started. And they quickly found out that the magic of the fall of 2010 didn’t carry over into the summer of 2011.
It never does.
San Francisco will spend this year trying to recreate that chemistry and charge that led them to the 2010 title. They have a few new ingredients. But they will again be working with a base of incredible starting pitching, a shutdown bullpen and exceptional defense.
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But the trickiest element to predict or produce will be the clutch hitting that this team relied on during their previous title run. In 2010 the Giants were No. 2 in the Majors in runs scored in close-and-late situations. Last year they fell to just 15th. That type of crunch-time production will again be critical to the success or failure of this club.
Here are Doc’s Sports 2012 San Francisco Giants predictions and MLB futures odds:
2011 Record: 86-76
2012 Wins Over/Under: 87.5
Odds To Win 2012 NL West: 1.4/1
Odds To Win 2012 NL Pennant: 6.5/1
2012 Giants Odds To Win World Series: 15/1
The Giants have pitching to burn. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are perennial Cy Young candidates and the anchors of the rotation. Behind them are young guns Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, as well as former Cy Young winner Barry Zito. As long as that group is healthy they are as good as any five-man crop in the Majors.
The Giants liked what they have seen of Bumgarner and Vogelsong enough to trade Jonathan Sanchez to Kansas City for Melky Cabrera. They also have several prime arms in Triple-A that will be ready to step in as needed this year. Needless to say, pitching is an organizational strength.
The bullpen, which has been the best in baseball over the last two seasons, remains another strength. Brian Wilson has been battling elbow issues and his health is definitely a concern heading into the season. But Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javy Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are at the core of a rock-solid group at the back end. Generally, relief pitching is streaky and kind of a year-to-year thing. But this group seems to be among the game’s elite.
Yeah, these guys sucked last year and I don’t see any reason to think that they will be much better this time around. San Francisco scored just 570 runs last year (3.5 per game) and that was the lowest total in the National League over the last 20 years. They didn’t make a single move in the offseason to bolster their lineup – save a couple marginal pickups with Cabrera and Angel Pagan looking to replace departed players Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell – and head into the year with one of the weaker hitting teams in the Majors.
San Fran is hoping that the return of stud catcher Buster Posey will give the offense the boost that it needs. Posey is trying to come back from an ankle injury that ended his season last May. He, along with Freddy Sanchez (shoulder), are hoping to have worked themselves back to 100 percent by Opening Day.
Beyond that, the Giants will remain a team that relies on defense, pitching, and just enough clutch hitting to scratch out some wins.
2012 San Francisco Giants Prediction
The National League West is always the most difficult division in baseball to predict. There is true parity out West and they have a tendency to play a lot of tight, nip-and-tuck games against one another. Generally the type of luck, magic, clutch play, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t carry over from year to year. In fact, for seven straight years the team that finished in second place in the West dropped in the standings the following season. I will predict that streak continues and that the Giants drop down in the standings despite continued strong pitching.
2012 San Francisco Giants MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
Take ‘under’ 87.5.
I don’t see any way that this team improved from last year’s 86-win club. They still have a horrendous lineup and they lost depth and experience by letting guys like Ross, Edgar Cabrera, and Aaron Rowand walk away. Sure, they have gotten younger and more athletic. But are they better? This team won 33 one-run games last year, and according to some advance metrics they actually overachieved by six wins last season. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this team finish in third place or lower. And, either way, I don’t think that they are going to top this number.
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