CAN GIANTS REPEAT???

Over the last five years, the San Francisco Giants have won three World Series Championships, winning 12 games while losing just four of the Series games that they have played in. In the years that they have won the Series, they have had a regular season cumulative record of 274-212, a .564 won/loss percentage.

Three out of the last six years, from 2009 through 2014, the Giants have not even made the playoffs as a Wild Card. In those years, 2009, 2011 and 2013, the Giants have finished, in their division, in second place once, in third place once and in fourth place once. Over those three years, they have won just 250 games while losing 236, a .514 won loss percentage.

Many strange things happen in baseball, for example, the Red Sox went from worst in 2012 to first when they won it all in 2013. The Giants, on the other hand, have alternated for six years between World’s Champions and also-rans.

In the even numbered years since 2009 they have won the championship and finished out of the money in the odd numbered years. With that in mind, you would expect that 2015 would be a bad year for the Giants. The 2015 edition of the Giants does not look like a team that is going to fade into mediocrity, however.

The starting rotation has 25 year old Madison Bumgarner, winner of the MVP in both last years League Championship Series and the World Series, at the top. He finished the regular season at 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA and looked like the best pitcher in baseball in the postseason, winning 4 and losing 1 with a 1.03 ERA and pitching 21 innings, winning two games with a .043 ERA in the Series. After pitching a complete game shutout in Game 5, he came back and pitched five shutout innings to close out game 7.

The number two starter, 30 year old, Matt Cain, coming back after elbow surgery was just 2-7 in 15 starts last year but should be back to full strength this year. He posted a 16-5 record with a 2.79 ERA in 2012. Tim Hudson, 39, who was 9-13 with a 3.57 ERA last year and Jake Peavy, who went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA after coming over from the Red Sox should be three and four.

Tim Lincecum, 31, the Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and 2009, who had a comeback year last year winning 12 and losing 9 should round out the starting rotation. Yusmeiro Petit, who was 5-5 in 12 starts is available as well. Ryan Vogelsong, who became a Free Agent after an 8-13 year in 32 starts last year may also be coming back to the Giants according to a rumor early this week.

There are five relievers who had 50 or more appearances last year returning, including Santiago Casilla, who inherited the Closer role from Sergio Romo last year, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi and Romo. Hunter Strickland and George Kontos will also contribute there.

Buster Posey, age 27, one of the best catchers in the game, who hit .311 with 22 homers and 89 RBI’s last year, while playing 147 games between catch and first base, will be back behind the plate. The outfield should have Gregor Blanco, .260 in 146 games, in left, Angel Pagan, .300 in 96 games, in center and Hunter Pence, who hit .277 with 20 homers and 74 RBI’s, in right. Pence had a spectacular World Series, hitting .444 with 12 hits in 27 at bats while scoring 7 runs and driving in 5.

Pablo Sandoval, lost through Free Agency at third, will be replaced by Casey McGehee, acquired from Miami where he hit .287 with 76 RBI’s last year. Brandon Crawford, who hit .246 while playing 153 games at short last year will be back there. Joe Panik, who had a great rookie year at second base, hitting .305 in 73 games after being brought up, looks to have that job sewn up as 39 year old Marco Scutaro had back surgery in December.

Brandon Belt got off to a great start last year only to lose two months to a broken thumb. He then suffered a concussion two weeks after returning to the lineup, played only 61 games but appears to be heading to Spring Training in good health and will be back at first. In 2013, he hit .289 with 17 homers and 67 RBI’s. I saw him in Chase Field in Arizona in the opening series last year and he was 5-9 with two homers and four RBI’s in the first two games and appeared to be headed to a great season until he got hurt.

Overall, the Giants look like they will be able to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers who won the Western Division last year when the Giants got in the Playoffs as the Wild Card. The San Diego Padres have made some major acquisitions this winter but still don’t appear to have the ability to beat out either the Dodgers or the Giants. Like the Blue Jays of 2013, the Padres may have added some good players to a weak team and got just that, a weak team with a some good players.

If the Giants can keep Bumgarner healthy, this could be the year that they beat their odd numbered year jinx and make it four World Series wins in six years. Now, that would definitely qualify as the start of a dynasty.

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