Nick’s Picks: Overshadowed by the Dodgers offseason, Giants still the pick in NL West

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Updated: February 19, 2013
Buster Posey

Five picks down, one more to go! So far I have picked some interesting teams representing baseball’s six divisions (AL West , AL EastAL CentralNL WestNL EastNL Central). The reason why I picked these team isn’t necessarily because I think they will all make the playoffs, but that they will have interesting seasons and I think they are teams that you should watch out for. Some of them might make the playoffs mind you, while others won’t.  In reality it’s entirely possible that none of them will, though one thing is for certain, that this 2013 season will be packed with drama and excitement.

My final pick is one of the teams that have the most pressure to get back to the playoffs, and that is the defending World Series Champions, the San Fransico 49e…. I mean the Giants (Sorry I had to)!  The champs have a fantastic baseball stadium and a great fan base.  They will be poised to do their best to take the focus away from the Dodgers, who have been the talk of the NL West this off-season.  I wouldn’t count out the Giants in 2013.

The Giants had a fantastic season last year with a first place record at season’s end of 94-68. This team stormed through the playoffs and eliminated the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series. The 2012 season was a unique one to say the least, with Tim Lincecum struggling in the rotation and ending the season with a 10-15 record.  The rest of the rotation however, was fantastic! Everyone else had 14+ win seasons.  Matt Cain had a 16-5 record with a 2.79 ERA, 193 strikeout season.  Of course we have to mention the resurgence of Barry Zito, who pitched ‘lights out’ baseball with 15-8 record showing there is still a fire burning when he played. Don’t forget Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner, who were just as important to the pitching rotation as Zito and Cain were. A funny stat to mention; Lincecum struggled with getting wins, but had 190 strikeouts along with Cain at 193 and Bumgarner at 191.

Pitching really makes a difference, and when you add in a consistent closer you are golden. Brian Wilson had gone down early in the 2012 season with an elbow injury, which opened up a chance for Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla to compete for the closer position.  We all know Romo took it in the end and saved four games in the Giants Post-season run. The amazing part about this team is Lincecum was actually put into the bull-pen for the post-season and pitched amazingly as a reliever. Hopefully this season will be different and we’ll see the two-time Cy Young winner back in the rotation at full force.

We also can’t forget players such as Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval, who were all key players to the success the team had last year. The best part for the San Fransico Giants is the fact that they managed to keep their core players with them, and aside the fact that they didn’t re-sign Brian Wilson to a new deal, the team looks the same as they did last year and gives many reasons why post-season success is a huge possibility in San Francisco.

The Giants will have to deal with the star power-packed team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Dodgers have so much star power they don’t know what to do with it. With all the money spent on this team, the Dodgers and their fans will be hungry for a visit to the post-season so the Giants will have to watch out. The thing with baseball is it’s a sport that catches people off-guard and young teams can surprise people.  You never know how the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies will turn out this season, but right now the Giants’ biggest threat is the Dodgers in the NL West.

With a good line-up of core players like Posey and Sandoval as well as another great season from arguably the best rotation in the National League, the San Francisco Giants are set to defend their World Series title. It should also be noted that the Giants held a 45-27 record against teams in their own division.  If they can pull that off again this season, or at least something close, the division could easily be theirs again.

So for me, the SF Giants are the team to watch in the NL West.  This will be a very good baseball season and I am excited to get it going.  I hope you enjoyed my six picks as I have enjoyed writing them.  As the season progresses I’ll check back in on my picks and update their progress.  Check back soon for updates.

To review, here are my other “Teams to Watch, 2013″:  AL West , AL East, AL Central, NL West, NL East, NL Central

Follow me on twitter @NVincelli, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.

Photo Credit: {photonista} Rachel Hamrick via photopin cc

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