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Team Preview- San Francisco Giants

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Season Series:  Dodgers lead 2-1.

I think its safe to say the Dodgers will be happy to be back on the road instead of getting pummeled in Southern California by American League teams. The Dodgers enter this series in a bit of a tail-spin after losing 8 of the last 10 and now trail San Diego by 5 games in the NL West.  San Francisco has not been playing much better having lost 6 of its last 10 and trailing San Diego by 4.5 games. A sweep one way or the other could possibly put the losing side in a near impossible hole in the division race. 

Old Friends: Guillermo Mota

Position Breakdown

First Base-  Aubrey Huff started the season at first base but moved to the outfield after after an injury to DeRosa. Buster Posey has been getting playing time at first base (as opposed to his natural position of catcher.)  The top prospect out of Vanderbilt  Florida State hasn't shined yet at the major league level, thought he's only had 96 plate apperances which is still too small of a sample size. On the year, Posey has a wOBA of .317 and posted a wOBA of .390 in AAA last season. 

Second Base/ Shortstop- Juan Uribe had a breakout year in 2009 and is actually exceeding those numbers in 2010. Between 2008 and 2009 Uribe's wOBA went from .296 to .351. Between 2009 and this season to date Uribe's wOBA went from .351 to .356.  His BABIP did drop from .325 in 2009 to .289 this season and Uribe was able to improve his offensive numbers by increasing his walk rate (up to 9.3% from 5.8% last year.) Very solid offensive numbers.  UZR rates Uribe as a solid defender posting a 3.7 UZR at second base last season. Freddy Sanchez also gets plenty of reps at second base.  Sanchez continues to post decent offensive numbers for a second baseman with a wOBA of .330.  Edgar Renteria is apparently not "done" either as he continues to have solid offensive numbers on the year. Renteria has only played in 30 games after missing time due to a hamstring injury.  In 2010, Renteria has a wOBA of .377 compared to a sub .300 wOBA the prior year. Unlike Huff and Uribe, Renteria does have a very inflated BABIP of .398.  In 2009, Renteria had a UZR of 0.2.

Third Base- Pablo Sandoval is having a disappointing 2010.  Sandoval's wOBA is down to .321 from .396 last season as his BABIP has come down to normal levels (.295 in 2010 compared to .350 in 2009.) His walk rate is roughly the same as 2010 but the real drop is in power. His ISO is .142 compared to .226 in 2009.  In 2009, Sandoval had a UZR of <0.2> at third base.

Catcher-  The 35 year old Bengie Molina was re-signed this offseason and continues to get the majority of the reps at catcher as opposed to Posey.  Molina continues to be a bad hitter, posting a dreadful wOBA of .285 on the year.

Right Field- Nate Schierholtz has gotten the majority of the reps at RF.  Schierholtz is not much of a hitter, posting a wOBA of .308 on the year.  He is a VERY solid defensive RF (according to UZR) with a 5.7 UZR on the year and 6.0 UZR in 2009.

Center Field- Aaron Rowand is having a terrible season at the plate.  His wOBA fell off a cliff (and it wasn't really good last season either) this year and is down to .285.  Andres Torres is also capable of playing some CF and has been brilliant in his plate appearances. On the season the 32 year old Torres has a wOBA of .370.

Left Field-  With the injury to Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff has been the every day left fielder. Aubrey Huff came over in the offseason on a one year deal for the Giants.  The tough park for left handers hitters figured to be a tough transition for Huff and TBLA expected Huff to be a minor upgrade (if at all) for San Francisco. On the season to date, we've been quite wrong. Huff enters the series with an outstanding wOBA of .390 (compared to .297 last season) and is currently slugging .512.  His BABIP of .293 is right in-line with his career marks so the stellar performance on the year is not BABIP luck.   Pat Burrell (a player who I admit has always been a favorite of  mine) came over after being DFA'd by Tampa Bay. 

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game 1:  Barry Zito gets the call in Game 1 of the series.  Zito enters the game with a ERA/FIP/xFIP of 3.45/3.88/4.74 indicating that Zito's getting a bit  lucky with the home run ball. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Manny is the only hitter who is swinging well enough to help facilitate Zito's regression to the mean.

Game 2: Matt Cain gets the call in Game 2 and Cain on the year has a line of 2.72 /3.65/ 4.72 showing additional good luck by this SF pitcher.  Cain's always been about a mid 4's x-FIP pitcher who gets the benefit of pitching in a pitchers park.

Game 3: Jonathan Sanchez will be the starting pitcher in game 3 and Sanchez also has a favorable split between his ERA and x-FIP.  Sanchez enters the series with a line of 3.03 / 3.62 / 4.24.

Bullpen: Brian Wilson leads the Giants bullpen as the closer has compiled 21 saves on the season.  Wilson is also having his best year statisctially, with an x-FIP of 2.84 on the season.  After Wilson, Sergio Romo and Mota have the most innings pitched out of the bullpen.  Mota's been a bit lucky on the year as he's posted an ERA of 2.86 compared to an x-FIP of 5.04. 

Series Prediction:  As much as I'd love to pick a great rebound series for the Dodgers, I just don't see it.  It's been a brutal stretch in interleague play and as dominat as the Dodgers have been in the NL West one would understand picking the Dodgers to win at least 2 of 3.  That being said, I think the Dodgers are due for some regression within their division and San Francisco equally needs to win. The Dodgers are facing pitchers who are fairly solid in their home park and the Dodgers bullpen is taxed.

I predict the Dodgers will lose 2 out of 3.