After winning it all in 2010, the Giants headed into the 2011 season with high expectations. Despite another stellar year from the pitching staff, injuries and the continued ineptitude of the Giants line up prevented a run at a repeat. With some new faces at the top of the line up and Buster Posey returning from injury, it would actually be difficult for the Giants to score as few runs as they did in 2011. A shorter leash for Aubrey Huff could lead to increased playing time for Brandon Belt should Huff continue to falter, and adding Belt to the line up would do nothing but good things for a team that struggles so much with getting on base and hitting for power. The Giants Achilles’ Heel may be in their pitching and infield depth as any injuries to a starter or non-first base infielder could prove disastrous. If they are able to stay healthy, there’s a very good chance they’ll be back in the playoffs come October.
“30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Buster Posey||.284||.368||.389||17||4||21||3||162|
|1B Aubrey Huff||.246||.306||.370||45||12||59||5||521|
|2B Freddy Sanchez||.289||.332||.397||21||3||24||0||239|
|SS Brandon Crawford||.204||.288||.296||22||3||21||1||196|
|3B Pablo Sandoval||.315||.357||.552||55||23||70||2||426|
|LF Melky Cabrera||.305||.339||.470||102||18||87||20||658||w/KC|
|LF Brandon Belt||.225||.306||412||21||9||18||3||187|
|CF Angel Pagan||.262||.322||.372||68||7||56||32||478||w/NYM|
|RF Nate Schierholtz||.278||.326||.430||42||9||41||7||335|
Unsettled: Left field. The Giants have a few options in left field, but it seems likely that newly acquired Melky Cabrera will end up with the majority of playing time there. However, if Brandon Belt impresses and makes the roster out of Spring Training, he could see time in left field or at first base pushing Huff to the outfield. If Huff gets time in left, Cabrera could move over to right sharing time with Nate Schierholz. It seems unlikely that there will be a set everyday line up, especially if Buster Posey gets any playing time at first. One thing is clear, Bochy is going to have his hands full juggling the lineup this year.
Target: Angel Pagan. From my MDP Sleeper article: “In 2010 Pagan showed what he’s capable of when healthy. Even though he missed 39 games in 2011, he was still able to put up a seven homerun, 32 stolen base season. Despite a .262 batting average, Pagan actually posted the best strikeout rate and one of the best walk rates of his career. His .332 xBABIP was the best of his career which indicates that he was hurt by some poor bounces as his actual BABIP was a paltry .285. If that number regresses and Pagan is able to keep his gains in patience and contact, we could see Pagan approach a .300 batting average. As is, I think a rebound into the .280s is very reasonable. Pagan projects to hit lead-off for the Giants, and should score a lot of runs even with the way the Giants have hit in recent years. Pagan isn’t being drafted until the 15th round in 12 team league, and could provide a ton of value if you can wait to grab him until the teen rounds.”
|Tim Lincecum (R)||13-14||2.74||1.21||220||86||217|
|Matt Cain (R)||12-11||2.88||1.08||179||63||221.2|
|Madison Bumgarner (L)||13-13||3.21||1.21||191||46||204.2|
|Ryan Vogelsong (R)||13-7||2.71||1.25||139||61||179.2|
|Barry Zito (L)||3-4||5.87||1.40||32||24||153.2|
Unsettled: Barry Zito. With two years left on his ridiculous contract and the Giants finally showing they’re willing to cut dead weight by DFAing Rowand at the end of last season, this could be Zito’s last chance in a Giants uniform. After a disastrous 2011 that saw him post a career-high ERA and miss time due to injury for the first time in career, Zito is running out of time to prove that he still has anything left in the tank. If he falters again or goes down to injury, the Giants could fall back on Eric Surkamp who has put up very good numbers in the minors despite a rough start to his major league career.
Target: Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner’s numbers speak for themselves: Seventh best K/BB of qualified starters with a K/9 of eight. Fourth best FIP behind only Halladay, Kershaw, and Lee. Seventh best xFIP among qualified starters. All as a 21-year-old in his first full season in the majors. The kind of numbers Bumgarner has put up as his age are almost unheard of, he’s one of three major league pitchers to post a K/BB over four before turning 22 (the others being Brett Saberhagan and Don Sutton).
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Brian Wilson (R)||36||3.11||1.47||54||31||55|
|Sergio Romo (R)||1||1.50||0.71||70||5||48|
Chasing Saves: After emerging as one of the best closers in baseball in 2010, Wilson’s control seemed to fall apart in 2011 as he posted his highest walk rate since becoming the Giants’ closer. According to spring reports, Wilson battled through injury throughout the entire season which was allegedly a major factor in his drop in performance. While it’s pretty much impossible to know the validity of claims such as this, Wilson has been known to pitch through injury in the past and it is very much in line with his character to continue to do his job despite any pain. Despite Wilson’s struggles last year, he still holds one of the most secure jobs in the majors going into 2012 and should continue to get a massive number of save opportunities with the number of close games the Giants seem to play in. If he should go down to injury, however, the Giants could try out super-reliever Sergio Romo or possibly go by a committee using Romo and Affeldt depending on who is batting in the eighth and ninth innings.
The NL West is wide open heading into 2012, with the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Rockies all projecting to finish very similar in the standings. The Giants are banking on the return of Buster Posey and continued growth of young studs like Madison Bumgarner and Pablo Sandoval to carry them back to the playoffs in 2012. The top three in the Giants rotation continues to rival any in baseball and their health and effectiveness will be the key to bouncing back from a second place finish in 2011. If the offense can be even average, there’s a good chance the Giants will have the opportunity to relive their 2010 season come October.
Check back tomorrow for our preview of the Baltimore Orioles as we continue “30 Teams in 30 Days.”
Michael Marinakis is a 26-year-old Giants fan who took 2011 off from fantasy baseball to bask in the glory of the World Series victory. He's now back in the game and looking forward to another year of baseball obsession. You can find him on the forums where he posts as GiantsFan14 or on Twitter @FBC_GiantsFan14.
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