Talon writer James Brewer is a die-hard Giants fan providing his view on the upcoming Giants postseason, compared to that of 2010.
Angel Pagan: Angel Pagan will replace the role of the man traded for him, Andres Torres. Torres, like Pagan, played center fielder for the Giants and provided a speedy leadoff bat in 2010. Torres had 16 hits in 58 at bats in the 2010 postseason. The electric Pagan shouldn’t have an early slump as he enters the postseason having hit a career-high and franchise-record 13 triples. Pagan’s production in the outfield and his ability to make clutch catches manning center-field provides the Giants with a defensive asset that matches Andres Torres’.
Marco Scutaro: Marco Scutaro was acquired near the deadline and has been hot, scoring 41 RBI’s in only 58 games. Scutaro starts at second and will be hungry for a win. After a stellar American League Divisional Series for Oakland in 2006, his production regressed in the American League Championship Series. Though he is batting second he should score Pagan when on base with his consistent bat and Scutaro’s uncanny knack for doubles
Pablo Sandoval: The Panda had little to no effect on the 2010 World Series Run. Getting three hits off 17 at bats, Sandoval stayed on the bench with his poor production. This year, look for Sandoval to become a dominant force in the middle of the order. Sandoval is having a great year, coming back from multiple stints on the DL and excelling in bringing the RBI’s. Bringing in the second most RBI’s this season behind Buster Posey, “Sandavol” will hit third in the order bringing in Pagan and Scutaro multiple times.
Buster Posey: Posey was Rookie of the Year in 2010. This year he could be in line for MVP and a batting title. Yes, Buster Posey is better in 2012 than 2010 and that should have every team the Giants face quaking in their cleats. Posey has hit .032 better than 2010, an extra 33 RBI’s, 5 HR’s, and 15 more doubles, making him a lock for the cleanup position. Posey has had and will have better numbers than last year because of his supporting cast. Yes he has improved, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have Pagan and Sandoval in front of him getting on base, allowing to do what he does best, hit. In 2010 he hit a mere five RBI’s, but expect 10+ in 2012. Posey has the weapons in front of him to win a post-season MVP.
Aubrey Huff: Aubrey Huff was amazing in 2010. He lead the team in almost all categories in 2010 in the regular season. Coming into 2011 out of shape and with an inability to handle pressure in 2012, he has become a non-factor. It was lucky for Huff to be included the roster this year and even if he does, he might injure himself in the NLDS celebrating as he did during Matt Cain’s perfect game this year. Note to the readers: Make sure to use the dugout stairs if you are incapable of hurdling the fence.
Brandon Belt: Belt will be taking the spot of Huff at first. In almost double the amount of games he played in 2011, Belt has gone from 18 RBI’s to 55 RBI’s. Belt has no post-season experience so expect a slump early on. Belt should come close to Huff’s numbers. Huff had eight RBI’s and one home run in Texas during the World Series for the 2010 run. Belt will probably tie or beat the home run number, but not the RBI’s. Batting 7th in the order he will produce well for the spot, but nothing quite close to his under 23 counterparts.
Brandon Crawford: Crawford has big shoes to fill. Edgar Renteria won the World Series MVP with two home runs and six RBI’s in that series alone. Renteria played shortstop for the whole 2010 postseason and was most effective in the World Series, in fact that series had his only RBI’s and HR’s. Renteria was put into the line-up later in the postseason due to Sandovals’s slump moving Uribe to third. Renteria production allowed the Giants to get fitted for rings in 2010, however Brandon will not be a catalyst to this offense. Arias and Crawford will battle for the starting job at short. If Crawford starts he should be hot early on, but may quickly trail off. He has a tendency to do well at the start of new things, hitting a grand slam in his first major league game. Expect Crawford to be a late inning defensive replacement playing his way out of the line up and Juaqin Arias in.
Juaqin Arias: Arias will be starting by the time the World Series comes around. Arias has had a career year. Arias has hit .022 better than Crawford and has one more home run. He has played in 30 less games than Crawford and trails him by only 11 RBI’s. Arias should receive the starting position over Crawford, but either way they will be batting eighth and possibly ninth when Bumgarner pitches. Certainly neither will hold a candle to Uribe who had 2 HR’s and 9 RBI’s in 2010. The shortstop position will be in flux this season; expect it to hit for average and have little chances or production with runners in scoring position. Look for Arias in the early innings and Crawford in the eighth or ninth to bring in stellar defense.
Hunter Pence: The former Philly has found a home with the Giants. He talked of resigning almost instantly after being traded, and seems to be happy with the city by the bay. A comfortable player is a productive player. Just as late pickup Cody Ross fit in and produced, so will Pence. Pence should be able to match Ross’ 10 RBI’s and .294 average, but nobody will ever be able to match Ross’ five home runs. Nobody had better ownage than Cody Ross’ three homer’s against the Roy Halliday, before Pence was traded to them, and nobody will be able to as the Phillies will not make the postseason this year (HA!). Pence has only gone to the postseason once, last year. He drove in four RBI’s in Phillies elimination from the playoffs (HA! again). Pence should bring up his postseason average from last year and keep the RBI’s in the fifth spot, if Buster leaves anything for him. Pence has already proven his worth past his slow starting bat and his pre-game speeches. In game four of the NLDS he told the team, “Play for each other not yourself. Win each moment. Win each inning. It’s all we have left.” The giants would win that game, even if Pence doesn’t produce with his bat he will with his sharp mind.
Left field: Left field will be platooned by Gregor Blanco and Xavier Nady. Both will be matched up against Pat Burrel and Nate Schierholtz. Nady and Blanco will be able to match or beat the average and runs, but not the RBI’s. Neither of the 2012 left fielders have the power Burrell had and they will not match it in the postseason. Blanco has the speed to beat Schierholtz’s runs and defensive prowess. Nady has the average to beat the free swinging Burrell. Look for different types of production out of left field than in 2010 and expect a left field by committee approach by Bochy.
Starting pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Hector Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner were the core pitching staff in 2010; three will return in 2012 with Barry Zito joining the group, but the dominant pitching will not be there.
Cain will lead the rotation, as Lincecum did during the world series run. Cain should put up better numbers than 2010, which is astounding as he posted a 0.00 ERA through the post-season. Lincecum threw an outstanding 14 strike-out game in his first postseason start. Cain surely has the potential to be “perfect”, however considering the Astros will not be in the playoffs Matt will surely pitch gems, but nothing for the record books (though I will not rule out the possibility for miracles). Cain may not escape with a 0.00 ERA as he will have more starts considering he is the number one guy but he should post more strike-outs, less walks, and more wins.
Lincecum on the other hand will be the number three man merely due to the fact that Bochy likes to go righty-lefty. Lincecum has had a horrible year and that will continue to the postseason. He won’t be as bad as Jonathan Sanchez, who only went 20 innings out of four starts and lasted a mere 2+ innings in his first NLCS start and 4.2 in his world series start. He will be a war horse and will not give up more than a 4.05 ERA, but not by a lot. Expect a 3.5 ERA and a Lincecum who can’t blow guys away with his movement and command the strike zone.
Bumgarner will be the number two man, and the 23-year-old will have a chance to outperform Matt Cain. He has played in a World Series at 20. Bumgarner posted a 2.18 ERA in 4 starts over 20 innings. Though that is the same amount of innings as Sanchez, Bumgarner was forced to come in on short rest to relieve Sanchez in his poor start against the Phillies However, he did recover in the world series allowing no runs in eight innings. Bumgarner will be better in 2012 with two extra years under his belt and the ability to last more innings. He could outperform Cain in every category; no matter what, he will be a great one-two punch with Cain.
Barry Zito will be the fourth starter. Yes, the same man who was didn’t throw one pitch in the 2010 post-season will be the fourth starter. Zito is the lesser of two evils as Vogelsong has struggled of late. I can not put any faith behind him and expect the same or worse as Sanchez (ok maybe he won’t start a fight). Overall the Giant’s pitching will be worse. We won’t have the three aces we had in 2010, but two in 2012. More earned runs will be given, but with stronger offensive production, the Giants should be able to handle it.
The bullpen: For the most part the 2012 Giants bullpen is the same as it was in 2010, but there are a few new faces and one major injury that will probably make this year’s bullpen slightly worse than last years. Brian Wilson is out; though he may have come back to receive an NL West division champ shirt, he will not be a factor. This is probably for the better as Wilson can’t throw anything with his limp arm (yet he can drive scooters around San Francisco in shoes costing four thousand). The closer spot will be taken by Sergio Romo, who has been stellar after recently vacating the role from Santiago Casilla–who is not the closer he once was, but still remains a good set up man. Sergio will mainly take the closer role, while Bochy will throw in Javier Lopez to get left handed hitters out. Romo should dominate with his no-dot slider and will close out many games. Javier Lopez will probably pick up a save off a left hander as he will be limited to the 8th and 9th inning against the left handed hitter he thrives on. Casilla, Affeldt, Mijares and Kontos will all pitch throughout the 6th-8th inning and be successful in their respective specialties. Clay Hensley and Ryan Vogelsong will serve as long inning relievers if any of the starters have poor early outings. Compared to 2010, this bullpen is not as dominant, but will get the job done. More earned run and less consistent outings are expected.