If patterns are anything to go by, the San Francisco Giants are set to win the World Series Championship. Having won, lost, won, lost and then 2014, here is how the Giants are set to line-up on opening day as they attempt to regain the crown they lost to the Boston Red Sox.
Catcher: Buster Posey – The former National League Most Valuable Player, is set to lead the Giants from behind the plate again. Having already gained the Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Batting Champion honors in his four seasons in the big leagues, he will aim to bounce back from his 2013 campaign in which he compiled: 15 home runs and 71 runs batted in with a .294/.371./.450 slashline.
First Base: Brandon Belt – We have been waiting and waiting, for Belts big breakout year, however, this year there is a real optimism about the Giants camp that this year, will finally be Belts year. Last year, he continued his steady, season-by-season improvement; he finished with 17 home runs and 67 runs batted in. As he is set to hit third this year, San Francisco will cross their fingers and hope that Belt will finally breakout.
Second Base: Marco Scutaro – Scutaro has been a key player since he arrived from the Colorado Rockies, and once more in 2014, he will be influential for the Giants up the middle. His ability to maintain a high batting average in batting second is quintessential for the Giants providing he can recover from a back injury which hindered him down the stretch. They will hope Scutaro will return to the form which saw him collate a .362 average in leading San Francisco to the World Series Championship.
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval – The Panda has lost a tonne of weight, and reported to spring training a new man, literally. As he heads into free agency, Sandoval will aim to return to his rookie form, keep on top of his weight, and storm his way to a big extension in San Francisco. Weight issues limited him to only 14 home runs in 2013; however, the Giants are impressed with his off-season transformation, so much so, that Bruce Bochy even claimed Sandoval will not be replaced for defensive reasons in the late innings.
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford – Crawford once more was a standout player for the Giants, sadly he still hasn’t added a bat to his incredible glove, nonetheless, his sensational defense will keep him in the line-up anyway. Although he may not have won a Gold Glove (largely due to the amazing Andrelton Simmons,) his .974 fielding percentage conveys his importance up the middle for the Giants. In terms of offense he composed a rather poor .248 batting average with only 43 runs batted in. San Francisco will seek Crawford to up his offensive stats, and truly make him one of the best shortstops in the game.
Left Field: Michael Morse – The new addition to the Giants outfield, Morse, will hope to supply the Giants with some pop, and production from the left field spot, something they haven’t had in a while. Injuries have plagued him, and prevented him from becoming the slugging everyday outfielder he sought to be after his massive breakout year in 2011. He will aim to stay healthy, and provide the power San Francisco has longed for.
Centre Field: Angel Pagan – The speedy leadoff man will be looking to recover from a disappointing season. He was limited to only 71 games last year, having assembled a superb year in 2012 in which he compiled 15 triples and 91 runs in leading the Bay Bombers to the World Series. His ability to run, hit triples and score runs from the top spot in the line-up will be valuable for the Giants.
Right Field: Hunter Pence – Undoubtedly San Francisco’s player of the year, Hunter Pence had an amazing year, earning himself a massive contract upon entering free agency. His particularly impressive September, in which he earned player of the month honors, should act as a springboard for his 2014 campaign. Leading the Giants with 27 home runs and 99 runs batted in is only a glimpse of what Pence can do for the Giants in the approaching season.
Starter: Matt Cain – Despite Madison Bumgarners‘ impressive season, in which he lead a rather abysmal pitching rotation – normally the Giants strong point – I expect to see Matt ‘ice in his veins’ Cain starting opening day. His experience and ability make him simply too good to ignore, he is only one year removed from pitching a perfect game, starting the All Star Game, and compiling a 2.79 ERA, and nothing says he won’t return to form to lead the 2014 San Francisco Giants.