The San Francisco Giants took the world by storm last year stunning millions of fans on their way to a World Series Championship.
Sure people knew about two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum with his freakish delivery.
Fans were even aware of Giants hard-throwing closer, Brian Wilson after he made national headlines for wearing bright orange cleats that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig deemed too distracting to opposing hitters.
Wilson was fined $1,000 for wearing the kicks and you know what his epic response was to why he was fined?
“For having too much awesome on my feet.”
His awesomeness clearly rubbed off on his teammates and played a key role in bringing the city of San Francisco its first-ever World Series championship.
But that was last year.
It’s March 2011. Pitchers and catchers have reported. The baseball season is set to get underway in less than a month.
So who’s the favorite to win it all? After last season’s dominant pitching and timely hitting, the Giants who returned nearly every key player from last year’s club have to be the favorites…right?
Experts and fans (outside of the Bay area) are confidently betting that the Philadelphia Phillies will become baseball’s next champion.
The Fightin’ Phils received the best Christmas present of 2010 by re-acquiring the services of left-hander Clifton Phifer Lee. (Santa tweeted that he gave the New York Yankees Andruw Jones and the Texas Rangers coal.)
Phillies fans were, are, AND should be ecstatic about Lee’s return because this guy is one of the best playoff pitchers in recent memory. In nine playoff starts over the past two years, Lee is 7-2 with a 2.13 e.r.a. He’s thrown 76.0 innings, averaging about 8 innings per start! Talk about saving the bullpen!
He’s not just eating up innings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but he’s remarkably not allowing any batters to get on base.
Quite honestly, Michael Vick isn’t the only athlete in Philadelphia who shouldn’t own a dog. Cliff Lee has to be added to the list because it is clear he will never walk it. In 9 career playoffs games, he struck out 80 batters and only walked 8.
He’s one of a kind, sometimes near perfect.
If anyone knows anything about perfection, it’s the Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay. Just ask National League MVP Joey Votto.
Roy Oswalt (Have you ever met two Roy’s in you life?) is an ace on most teams. He is the third best pitcher on the Phillies.
Barring any serious injuries (like any team), Philadelphia will undoubtedly finish the regular season with the best record in the National League. I’m willing to go that far.
If the City by the Bay meets the city of Brotherly Love in a seven game series this October, I cannot sleep on the Giants and say the Phillies are going to just run away with it. In fact, I’m inclined to pick the team that won the NLCS last year.
I don’t understand how everyone has suffered such an intense case of amnesia. Last year, Frisco was labeled as a team of ‘misfits’ who had no chance to win it all and were lucky to even make the playoffs.
The Giants proceeded to win in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and flat out dominate Cliff Lee’s Texas Rangers in the World Series.
They shouldn’t sneak up on anyone this year. We know the Giants have great starting pitching, a strong bullpen, and young hitters that have proven can perform in high-pressure situations.
National League Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey will play his first full season this year. The star catcher hit .305 with 18 homeruns in 2010 and provided the first real threat in San Francisco’s lineup since Barry Bonds. Posey’s strong work ethic suggests he will have another great season, and I believe last year’s playoff experience has given him and his teammates great confidence heading into 2011.
Giants fans may not like this comparison, but I liken their situation to what has taken place in Los Angeles with the Lakers. When Lebron James and Chris Bosh teamed up with Dwayne Wade in Miami, everyone and their mother jumped ship to the Heatles bandwagon and completely dismissed the team who had won the last 2 NBA Finals.
The same thing has happened in baseball.
The Phillies acquired the shiniest new toy, and everyone chose to forget what happened last season. Remember the Giants beat Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the NLCS in Philadelphia. Doc Halladay’s e.r.a. in the playoffs against San Francisco was 4.35.
The Giants met Cliff Lee twice in the World Series and had great success against him as well. Lee finished 0-2 against Frisco with a 6.94 e.r.a.
However, Tim Lincecum lived up to his reputation and delivered against Philly and he wasn’t even San Francisco’s best pitcher.
The Giants’ best pitcher was undoubtedly Matt Cain.
In three postseason starts last season, Cain’s e.r.a was the same as mine, 0.00!
Matt Cain’s e.r.a. in the playoffs last year was 0.00! That’s more dominant than Justin Bieber in this year’s NBA All-Star celebrity game.
Fact: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Cole Hamels each lost to the Giants in the playoffs last season and the Phils’ fifth starter, Joe Blanton earned a no-decision.
Fact: In that no decision, Blanton lasted only 4 2/3 innings.
If these two ball clubs meet up again in the NLCS, it’s going to be epic. There will be no broomsticks. It will be a series to remember and will feature one of the greatest pitching match-ups of all-time.
The Phillies are great. The defending World Series champions are great.
Please DO NOT overlook San Francisco once again because this team of misfits has proven that they thrive as the underdog.