The San Francisco Giants won their first World Series since 1954, four years before moving West from New York, but what are the oddsmakers saying about their chances to repeat?
San Francisco took the NL West with a 90-72 record last year, just holding off the upstart San Diego Padres after overtaking them in September.
The first playoff series was 3-1 over Atlanta, followed by a 4-2 upset over the Philadelphia Phillies (more on them later). The 4-1 win over Texas in the Fall Classic brought tears to the eyes of long-suffering Giants fans, who endured World Series losses in 1962, 1989 and 2002.
Manager Bruce Bochy has the tremendous task of keeping his team focused. That won’t be easy even though his players aren’t ‘building mansions’ as Hank Steinbrenner recently said about Derek Jeter after the Yankees Series win two years ago. Ironically, the Yanks were the last team to repeat a little over a decade ago.
The easiest path for San Fran is to win the division again. Bookmaker.com has the NL West as a two-team race between San Francisco (plus 100) and Colorado (plus 120). The L.A. Dodgers (plus 500), San Diego (plus 1025) and Arizona (plus 2000) are all significantly behind.
San Francisco’s pennant odds (plus 485) only trail the Phillies (plus 175), who are also the World Series favorites (plus 240) after the free agent acquisition of Cliff Lee. The pennant odds were updated recently after St. Louis lost Adam Wainwright (elbow) for the season.
San Francisco’s Word Series odds are a reasonable plus 830. The regular season win total is an enticing 88.
The starters finished second in the NL in ERA (3.54) during the regular season. Ace Tim Lincecum struggled more than expected (3.43 ERA), including a 7.82 ERA in August. However, he excelled in five playoff starts (4-1, 2.43 ERA) and beat Lee (then with Texas) twice in the World Series.
Bochy has aleady announced his rotation and it’s Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner. Putting Sanchez at the No. 2 means there won’t be three lefties at the end of the rotation. Zito was left off the playoff roster, but the four other guys played big parts in the championship.
San Francisco’s relievers also had the second best ERA (2.99) in the NL last year. Closer Brian Wilson had 48 saves and a 1.81 ERA and also threw 11 2/3 scoreless playoff innings. Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez and Jeremy Affeldt add nice depth heading into this season.
San Francisco’s offense was ninth in the NL in runs scored (697), and there should be at least some improvement. Catcher Buster Posey (18 homers, 67 RBIs) will get better as he turns just 24. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval (63 RBIs) is slimmed down and ready to resume at third base after getting benched most of the postseason.
Free agent Miguel Tejada should be an upgrade offensively at shortstop after finishing last year in San Diego. He replaces World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, with utility man Juan Uribe also gone.
First baseman Aubrey Huff led the team in home runs (26) and RBIs (86), but he could move to left field at some point when Brandon Belt is ready. Pat Burrell and Mark DeRosa will battle it out in left for now, while postseason hero Cody Ross is in right.
The Giants were at plus 10.5 moneyline units last year (third in the NL). Those gains came both at home (plus 4.0 units) and away (plus 6.5).
The ‘under’ (82-75-5) had a small advantage overall for the Giants. The ‘under’ was 44-33-4 at home, while the ‘over’ was 42-38-1 away.
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