More Splash Hits projects 90-win season

In 2008, the author of moresplashhits projected a 70-92 season for the Giants. They finished 72-90.

In 2009, More Splash Hits projected a 83-79 season. The Giants went 88-74.

So what do we project for 2010…………90-72.

We debating all spring about this number, ranging in win totals between 85-90. But we went to the high number, and here’s our reasoning.

Now many Giants fans were not enthusiastic about the Giants’ offseason moves, not securing the really big bat that the team has been lacking.

But if you step back and look at the lineup as a whole, and compare it to last year’s team, it’s hard not to conclude this year’s team is better.

Let’s look.

1B (2009) — Rich Aurilia/Travis Ishikawa
1B (2010) — Aubrey Huff

Huff is not a superstar, but he does have a solid bat. His glove may be lacking, but Ishikawa remains to provide defensive support when needed. Overall, the Giants are better in 2010 at 1B than they were in 2009. 2010: Improved

2B (2009) — Emmanuel Burriss
2B (2010) — Juan Uribe/Freddy Sanchez

Last year started with hope at 2B. Hope that Burriss would blossom into a solid starter at 2B. It never really happened as Burriss got hurt by midseason, eventually leading to the decision to get Sanchez via a trade. This year, the Giants know what their getting in Uribe, who was one of the team’s most consistent bats last season. The good news with Sanchez’s offseason surgery is that it gets Uribe into the lineup regularly, at least for the first month. If Sanchez comes back healthy and can produce, it will make the Giants all that stronger. 2010: Improved

SS (2009) — Edgar Renteria
SS (2010) — Edgar Renteria

Renteria was a disappointment in 2009, struggling much of the season. He has offseason surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, and he looked much stronger this spring. Whatever he can produce above what he provided last season is a bonus. 2010: Same

3B (2009) — Pablo Sandoval
3B (2010) — Pablo Sandoval

There’s been a lot of chatter this spring about Kung-Fu Panda. Some of it lists Sandoval as a candidate to disappoint this season, painting his 2009 as somewhat of a fluke. But the more observant Giant fans know that Sandoval perform in 2009 the same way he performed after getting called up at the end of 2008. That tells us that last season was no fluke. Again, if Sandoval replicates last year’s number, the Giants are happy. If he continues to improve, watch out. 2010: Same

C (2009) — Bengie Molina
C (2010) — Bengie Molina

One of the surprises of the offseason was the return of Molina. But it really helped complete the Giants offense. While Posey gave us a good glimpse of what is to come in the future, the importance of Molina’s bat and his handling of the pitching staff cannot be disregarded. And this season, the Giants won’t depend as heavily on Molina. No cleanup spot. No starting six days a week. That could keep Molina fresher longer. 2010: Same

LF (2009) — Fred Lewis
LF (2010) — Mark DeRosa

Left field was another position where the Giants opened the season with hope — hope that Fred Lewis would blossom as a full-time player. He didn’t. This year, they go with a veteran player with a professional bat. DeRosa is not a great outfielder, but he’s better than Lewis. And he can be depended upon offensively, more so than Lewis. 2010: Improved.

CF (2009) — Aaron Rowand
CF (2010) — Aaron Rowand

This is another player who the Giants might expect to perform better this year than last year. Rowand moves into the leadoff spot. He’s not your typical leadoff hitter. But his performance from the spring indicates that his leaner body and new approach at the plate gives hope that better days are ahead in 2010. Last year, Rowand led the Giants in strikeouts. If hits more and whiffs less, that’s good news for SF. 2010: Same

RF (2009) — Randy Winn
RF (2010) — John Bowker

Last year’s lineup was filled with players who had more promise than past production. In most cases, that promise didn’t happen (Burriss, Lewis, Ishikawa). So the Giants are going with more proven players this year. RF is one position where the Giants lose a proven player and go with one with promise. The Giants could improve at RF in 2010, or they could miss Randy Winn. 2010: Declined

Starting pitching (2009) — Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Randy Johnson
Starting pitching (2010) — Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Todd Wellemeyer

If the Giants can match last year’s pitching performance, it’s a good year. But there’s room for improvement. Remember the first-half struggles of Sanchez before his return and his no-hitter? If he can build off his second-half success, it makes the rotation that much stronger. Johnson was a nice addition, but his season was basically over by July. If Wellemeyer can provide some good starts, the Giants will be fine. If he struggles, Kevin Pucetas is ready for a call in Fresno. 2010: Same

Bullpen
Closer and setup (2009): Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, Bobby Howry
Closer and setup (2010): Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo

The end of the game was in good hands last year. But the middle relief was a bit shaky at times. The end again looks in good hand, but the bullpen looks much strong top-to-bottom. Plus, the Giants have plenty of good options waiting in Fresno. This looks to be a strength of the Giants in 2010. 2010: Improved

So, in review, there are several positions in which the Giants are improved, and only few where they appear to have lost something from last year. That’s got to be worth two more wins in 2010.

Also, consider this: the Giants won 22 games last season — one-fourth of their total wins — when scoring three or fewer runs. So even a few more runs this season will pay big dividends. And last year, the win total could have been much better if the Giants can play better on the road. They got off to a poor start in this category, dropping their first six in LA and San Diego. The Giants actually hit better, hit more home runs, scored more runs at home than they did on the road. And AT&T Park is consider a pitchers’ park. The road to success must start on the road for the Giants. If they can go .500 on the road, 90 wins should not be hard to reach

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