When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010, they had a team built around pitching but an offense that could put the ball over the wall. No, they weren’t going to be confused with the Brewers or Reds in terms of pop, but ranking 10th in the Majors for homeruns with the pitching staff they had was nothing to be embarrassed about. Sure, there were other factors in their fantastic season (health, etc), but the point is – they scored runs and with an elite pitching staff as they had (and currently still have), that’s all you need for an extended playoff run.
In 2011, as the Giants were marred by injuries, regression and free agent losses from the season before, they dropped from 10th in the league to 22nd in homeruns – 17th to 29th in total runs scored. The pitching was still fantastic – even better than ’10 essentially, but offensively the Giants were dreadful, lacking the power that sparked them the season before, outran by slugs on the basepaths.
Enter 2012 where the Giants’ power bats return presumably healthy, all be it with question marks – however – the one glaring difference we’ve seen is the Giants speed coming into this season. Gone is the lone gazelle the Giants have had the past two years in Andres Torres, but if you’re not getting on base which was Torres’ issue last year, that speed isn’t as valuable as it may appear on the surface.
With key speedy additions in Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco, the Giants now posses multiple players who can not only swipe bags, but put pressure on opposing defenses with their speed as can be seen by their league leading 24 stolen bases through 19 Spring games. For a team that plays so many tight games, being able to manufacture runs in a traditional sense over waiting on a two or three run homer as their lone hope will make a world of difference.
That’s not to say the Giants are lacking power – not in any sense. With a presumably reinvigorated Aubrey Huff, a hopefully healthy Buster Posey along with an All-Star level Pablo Sandoval (remember, in ’10 Sandoval was MIA) – the Giants have a handful of plus 20 HR types in the middle of their lineup to go along with the newly acquired speedsters.
For the Giants, 2011 was a rough year that was shortened by injuries and a lack of offensive production, and while we wont know how healthy the Giants will be in ’12, we certainly know the added speed will only help the Giants’ offensive production.