No matter what happens between now and the end of October, the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 campaign will likely be regarded as a success by most fans. After missing the post-season last year (hangover effect?), the 2010 World Champions are back in the playoffs and have every bit a chance of bringing home the hardware as anyone.
Many pundits wrote the G-men off before the 2012 season even started, citing a horrible offense as the main reason why San Francisco would not make it back to the post-season.
How wrong they were.
As I predicted back in March in my interview with Baseball Blogger Alliance then-President Daniel Shoptaw (who runs a successful St. Louis Cardinals blog called C70 At The Bat), the Giants have indeed won the NL West. (For the record, I don’t think any Giants blogger last spring thought we didn’t have a chance.)
Where I stood head and shoulders above the rest of my Giants-blogging peers in Shoptaw’s “Playing Pepper” series this past spring was in some of my other astute observations and prognostications.
For instance, I was the only blogger (out of the eight interviewed) who correctly identified Hector Sanchez as the Giants prospect who would make the biggest impact this season. While other bloggers thought Gary Brown or Eric Surkamp would be the next big thing in SF, I knew Brown (along with Joe Panik and Tommy Joseph) would not sniff a single Garlic Fry this year.
When Shoptaw asked us bloggers to opine about the Giants’ 2011 off-season, most bloggers responded with a collective “blech!”…
- “The team did little to address their offensive struggles” — Giants Nirvana
- “Counting on Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, the healthy returns of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez and a full year of Pablo Sandoval…isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence among us Lunatic Fringe” – El Lefty Malo
- “I wasn’t quite as high on the Pagan deal as the Cabrera deal.” — Giants Baseball Blog
- “In a word, underwhelming.” — Snow Woulda Had It
- “Seriously, Sabes, WTF?” — Lunatic Fringe
But it was I who correctly noted that it would be manager Bruce Bochy‘s emphasis on speed (both offensively and defensively) that would make the biggest difference this year:
- “The Aaron Rowand/Pat Burrell/Cody Ross (“water buffalo defense”) era is finally over (thank goodness!). Bochy is employing a ‘small ball’ strategy this year (something I’ve been personally harping about for years at spacious AT&T Park). With speedsters like Pagan, Cabrera, Schierholtz, and Gregor Blanco roaming the outfield (“gazelle defense”?), balls hit in the gaps by opposing players should be cut down dramatically. Throw in a very quick Emmanuel Burriss (coming off the bench), and this team has a shot at leading the NL in stolen bases…” (They finished fourth in the league, thank you very much.)
In a separate interview I did with NY Baseball Digest’s Mike Silva shortly after the Pagan acquisition back in December, I lavished the deal and predicted Pagan would lead the league in triples. Guess who got it right again? (/Pats self on back again.)
I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m somewhat of the resident expert among Giants bloggers. (Never mind the fact that I’ve been mostly silent during the season while working on my Masters program.)
All of this brings me back to now, the 2012 post-season.
How will the Giants fare in the playoffs, you ask? Is a 2012 World Series title on the west-coast horizon?
As much as I’d like to say “yes!,” the truth is, I’m not feeling it dog.
While the hitting has certainly improved, San Francisco’s pitching staff (the starters and the bullpen) is nowhere near as dominant as it was in 2010. And you and I both know pitching is ultimately what wins titles.
Don’t get me wrong. I loves me some Marco Scutaro. The two Brandon’s have contributed nicely. Pablo’s bat has resurfaced just in time, and Posey is your NL MVP, no doubt.
But Tim Lincecum‘s struggles — coupled with Ryan Vogelsong‘s mediocrity and the lack of a bona fide shut-down stopper in the 9th — are variables that simply cannot be ignored.
Unless San Francisco can rekindle some of that “magic inside,” I don’t see the boys parading down Market Street anytime soon. (By the way, that didn’t stop me from buying two NLCS tickets earlier today.)
With all due respect to Shoptaw’s Cards, It will be the Atlanta Braves (yes, you heard me right!) beating the New York Yankees in seven games to win the 2012 World Series.
Let’s hope this time I’m wrong.
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