Friday, September 30, 2011

Where the Giants went wrong in 2011

When the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers to win the World Series in 2010, some people were left unconvinced.

Though they had won it all, the Giants had done so without any of the superstars of the game. They had confounded the experts by even making the playoffs, so to beat the Braves – with a sweep at Turner Field – in the Division Series was unexpected.

Beating the Phillies in the NLCS meant they got the chance for their first championship since 1954, when they were in New York.

And it was some of their largely-unheralded players, like rookie left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner and Freddy Sanchez, who were the heroes as they won the series 4-1. Those following the baseball betting will have been impressed.

But, not least when World Series MVP Edgar Renteria departed in the off-season, there were plenty of pundits who predicted that the Giants would be a one-season wonder.

The argument went that manager Bruce Bochy had put together a team where everything just clicked into place, and their individual talents were simply not up to repeating. People who bet on baseball agreed.

So the fact that the Giants did not make post-season in 2011 was not altogether unexpected.

The reasons for their failure lay with injuries and hitting.

When catcher Buster Posey suffered a season-ending injury on May 25, the Giants’ chances of continuing their 2010 success began to slip away. Losing the reigning NL Rookie of the Year was bad enough, then 16 days later Sanchez hurt his shoulder and was likewise done for the year.

Hitting was a big problem with the Giants all year. Andres Torres’ form dipped, Aubrey Huff stopped hitting home runs and Pat Burrell and Cody Ross were all below the standards they had set the previous year.

Two of the players with hot bats, Carlos Beltran and Pablo Sandoval, missed several weeks through injuries and their absences were felt badly.

There was little wrong with the Giants pitching, but the starters never got anything like enough run support. The team was 55-9 when scoring at least four runs, but with all the injuries they began to fall apart.

The crucial period was a 12-game homestand starting on August 23, nine against losing teams. But the light-hitting continued, with just 30 runs in that period, and they went 5-7 to lose six games in the standings to eventual champions Arizona.

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