Giants breakout pick for 2012: Brandon Belt
GIANTS' BREAKOUT PICK: BRANDON BELT
Does this read like a reprint from last season's preview? Well, that was then, this is now. Last year, Belt was in the opening-day lineup and images of another Buster Posey-type rookie sensation danced in Giants fans' imaginations. Reality soon erased those images. The first baseman/outfielder spent 2011 shuttling between the big club and the minors. When the dust settled, he had batted .225 in 63 games, and the only award being rumored was rookie flop of the year. What makes this year different? Last year's experience, as rough as it was for Belt, will make him a better, mentally tougher player. Plus, he had a sensational spring, hitting for power and average and showing an ability to draw walks, too. Forget last year. This is Belt's year.
IF EVERYTHING BREAKS RIGHT
Look, the Giants won 86 games in 2011 with an offense so anemic, even EMTs couldn't find a pulse. Last year, the Giants won 86 games without Buster Posey after May 25. So, the formula for success is simple: support that elite pitching staff with even mediocre hitting and the Giants will be looking at 95-plus wins, which should translate into a strong run in the postseason. Everything breaking right includes newcomers Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan hitting the cover off the ball, with Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Belt and Brett Pill — starters and bench players alike — doing likewise.
IF EVERYTHING GOES WRONG
Shudder at the thought of a significant injury to Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner or Brian Wilson (above). Continue to shudder at the thought of a significant injury to Sandoval or Posey (even though backup catcher Hector Sanchez could be a huge improvement over Eli Whiteside). If this team doesn't stay in tip-top health, things will go wrong, things will go terribly wrong.