2012 in review
Record: 94-68 (88-74 Pythagorean)
718 runs scored (6th in NL)
649 runs allowed (6th in NL)
Big Offseason Moves
GM Brian Sabean went with the same strategy after the Giants' 2010 World Series triumph, but Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross didn't repeat their 2010 magic and the Giants missed the playoffs (Buster Posey's injury didn't help). Will the same strategy pay off? The biggest issue may not be Pagan repeating his nice season or Scutaro's age, but replacing Cabrera; while the team won the World Series without him, his bat was a big reason they made the playoffs in the first place.
This is a group that understands the difficulties of hitting at AT&T Park. Proving home runs aren't everything, they finished last in the NL in homers -- but they did lead the league in runs scored on the road. It's a solid defensive team, with Brandon Crawford flashing Gold Glove-caliber leather and Gregor Blanco essentially giving the team a second center fielder in the outfield.
The key guy may be Hunter Pence, who drove in 45 runs in 59 games after coming over from the Phillies, but didn't really hit that well: .219/.287/.384. If Posey gets fewer pitches to hit after his MVP campaign, RBI opportunities will fall to Pence.
If you factor in the Giants' home park, the pitching staff is probably overrated -- the Giants were 11th in the NL in road ERA at 4.21. Where this staff has earned its money, of course, is in the postseason. The rotation will count on two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum returning to form after going 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA. Romo will be the closer from day one this year, but it will be interesting to see how far Bruce Bochy pushes him, as he has averaged 67 games but only 52 innings the past two seasons.
Heat Map to Watch
A key reason for Posey's MVP season was that he absolutely destroyed left-handers -- .433/.470/.793, with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs in 164 at-bats. As you can see, it didn't really matter where lefties pitched. Look for Posey to get pitched around a lot more this season if he continues to pound southpaws.
If Lincecum bounces back from his subpar 2012, the Giants should be as tough as ever -- but the division figures to be a lot better, with the Dodgers signing Zack Greinke, the retooled Diamondbacks and the young and improving Padres. There isn't any depth in the rotation after the top five guys, so a long-term injury could be a major issue. I also see a lot of volatility in predicting the performance of players such as Pagan, Scutaro and Pence, and even Posey may due for a regression. Still, they've won the World Series twice in three years and that has to be respected.