Originally posted on Seed Spitters  |  Last updated 3/6/12

The Giants were World Series Champions, then NL West favorites, then NL West runner-ups.

Things are getting tougher for the Giants – a team most think will still contend for the NL West title, if not more.

But with Arizona, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Washington all sharing playoff expectations with San Francisco, the Giants may very well walk away from the 2012 season empty-handed.

That was the case in both 2008 and 2009. But the lack of wins was made up for somewhat by some shiny new hardware. The likes of which the Giants hadn’t seen since 1967.

Tim Lincecum and his father Chris Lincecum flash the fancy hardware (AP/ Ben Margot).

Tim Lincecum’s back-to-back NL Cy Young awards were a great source of pride for a Giants fan base that was sorely lacking that department. Hey, Dave Roberts will do that to you.

So if the universe decides to let evil prevail and the Giants don’t win a second title in three years, perhaps fans will be offered some sort of post-season peace offering.*

The Giants still resemble that magnificent band of misfits from 2010 in some ways – the lineup is still without a “superstar” – but the team isn’t without award contenders, especially on the pitching staff.

Lincecum will be a perennial Cy Young contender every season for the foreseeable future barring injury. He has the most Cy Young-worthy “stuff” and he has a track record. Lincecum is about Odds of winning Cy Young – 8:1.**

Matt Cain, unfairly hidden in Lincecum’s 170-pound shadow, belongs in the discussion as well. More consistent than Lincecum over the past two years, Cain is one of baseball’s best No. 2 starters. He won’t record as many strikeouts as Lincecum, but he is capable of matching his ERA, WHIP and K/BB.

Those stats might be moot points, though, because everyone knows the real question when it comes to Cain and the Cy Young award is: Will he win? Cy Young voters love looking at win totals, and Cain has had trouble winning ever since the Giants decided to make Cain’s starts “Bat With Your Eyes Closed” day. Cain will likely have to put up gaudy stats to get voters to look past his 14 win total. Odds of winning Cy Young – 20:1.

Now let’s move on the hitters – what? You want in on this discussion too? Ok, fine.

There may be no Giant I’m more excited to watch this year than Madison Bumgarner. Even though he pitched fantastically last season, baseball pundits are saying this year will be his “break out” season. That’s fine with me, means he’s going to be even better. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s supremely talented and just getting smarter. Maybe this season he avoids a one-third inning debacle that shoots his ERA up 0.85 points and burdens him with an embarrassing season-ending ERA of 3.21.

Bumgarner could be a real surprise contender in the NL race if he gets run support. The Giants will probably figure out a way to transfer all of Cain’s runs to Bumgarner. Odds of winning Cy Young – 25:1

Ok, now to the real long shots, the Giants “hitters.” There’s really only two worth mentioning, and both of those mentions come with caveats.

Buster Posey is the Giants’ best MVP candidate, and likely only a third-place candidate at that. I’d add Pablo Sandoval into the mix but if they put up similar stats I think the nod goes to the catcher. (Also, then I’d have to write more.)

Posey’s handling of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball would break any tie that may exist between he and Pablo on the offensive side. Of course I’m not saying it’s not impossible (or even unlikely) that Sandoval puts up superior offensive numbers, just that I think the way things need to lineup for a Giant to win MVP favors Posey, even though it’s still a long shot.

Posey is capable of putting up outstanding numbers for a catcher, but it would take a phenomenal season to overshadow all of the other likely candidates: Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, etc. Posey may be the best player on a playoff team, and that always helps. Take that Kemp! (Either a great burn or the worst jinx ever.)

This all depends on Posey being healthy, of course. So, yea. Odds of winning NL MVP – 35:1

Sandoval is still in contention for an award, although it won’t be MVP. Remember when Sandoval came up in 2009 and wowed everyone in baseball by being the most fun hit machine since ABBA? He was at the top of the batting charts and would have been batting-champion runner-up had he been eligible.

Last year he showed that 2009 wasn’t a fluke. When he’s in shape – you know, like athletes are supposed to be – he’s a very good hitter.

Same goes for this year. If he’s in shape (and reports are mixed right now, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) he’s going to hit well over .300, and possibly challenge for the batting title.

And lastly it’s worth noting that manager Bruce Bochy has a one in 30 chance at Manager of the Year. So look out for that.

 

*No, I’m not forgetting about Buster Posey’s 2010 icing-on-the-cake/eat-it-Braves-fans Rookie of the Year award, but I seem to remember the Giants taking home another trophy that season.

**Please keep in mind that I have very little idea how odds work. It’s sorta like the stock market, right? No? Good. I don’t know how that works either.

 

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