Returning to the playoffs in 2014 will not be an easy task for the San Francisco Giants. Not only do they have to perform better than the Los Angeles Dodgers, they were also behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and tied with the San Diego Padres in the 2013 regular season standings. The Giants need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to be serious postseason contenders, but it is possible and here are a few reasons why:
Brandon Belt. Belt, or baby giraffe, is the underrated 25 year old first baseman who had a sneaky good year in 2013. He hit .289/.360/.481 with 17 homers and had a 139 wRC+. He worked his way into the three-hole in the lineup and in the second half he exploded offensively, hitting .326/.390/.525 and had a wRC+ of 161. If he stays healthy, Belt could easily hit .300/.380/.490 for a full season and provide a huge boost to the Giants offense.
Buster Posey. Posey is arguably the best catcher in the major leagues. At the young age of 26 he already has two World Series rings, a NL MVP, NL ROY, Silver Slugger, two All-Star selections, and he also won the 2012 Hank Aaron award. He wasn’t as productive in 2013 as he was in 2012, but he still hit .294/.371/.450 with a 133 wRC+ and a 4.8 fWAR. Barring injury he should continue to put up elite offensive numbers and be the key player to the Giants’ postseason hopes.
Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is the ace of the Giants pitching staff at the youthful age of 24. In 2013 he threw 201.1 innings and had a 2.77 ERA while compiling 199 strikeouts. He is quietly putting together a very nice career and is expected to get even better as he has not even reached his prime. I could see Bumgarner inserting himself into yearly Cy Young award talks if he continues at his current pace.
Pablo Sandoval. In past years when you think of the Giants’ third baseman you think of an overweight player who breaks a lot of hamate bones. Well based on recent rumors and pictures, that will be no longer. It is said that Sandoval has lost 42 pounds since the offseason began. In 2013 the panda hit .278/.347/.417 with 14 homers and a 2.3 fWAR. If he can keep the weight off it will help his offense and defense tremendously. If he can perform the way Giants fans know he can then Sandoval could be the player that boosts the Giants’ offense enough to put them into the playoffs.
The Giants will have to outperform the Dodgers, who are loaded with seemingly endless money and elite talent, if they want to win the National League West. It won’t be easy to do, but the Giants are stocked with a good mix of young talent and veteran leadership to have a legitimate chance at reaching the 2014 postseason.
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