COMMENTARY | When the San Francisco Giants take the field in Los Angeles on opening day, the lineup they field might look pretty familiar. Assuming everyone stays healthy (and minus the DH), it'll be the same lineup they used for Game 4 of the 2012 World Series. There's something to be said for continuity.
It may not be the most intimidating lineup on paper, but the Giants have a good mix of speed, power, and contact hitters that should allow them to compete with anybody.
Here's a look at the lineup, player by player:
1) Angel Pagan, CF
Pagan is coming off of a career year offensively, and the Giants can't afford much of a drop off from him. He'll once again be counted on to set the table for the middle of the order, and he brings the added benefit of being able to slide to the middle of the order if the need arises.
2) Marco Scutaro, 2B
Scutaro was unbelievably hot in his stint with the Giants, to the tune of a .362/.386/.473 batting line and an unconscious performance in the postseason. No one expects him to hit .362 this season, but, like Pagan, the Giants can't afford a steep drop off in performance. The team lacks a true backup for Scutaro so if he doesn't hit, the Giants are stuck.
3) Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Assuming his elbow is healthy enough, the Panda will start the season batting third. Health has been a challenge for Sandoval over the past few seasons, and the Giants will need him to stay on the field if they hope to compete for the division title. When healthy, Sandoval is the most dangerous hitter in the Giants' lineup.
4) Buster Posey, C
The reigning NL MVP may not be the prototypical cleanup hitter, but he's just as dangerous all the same. Posey can hit to all fields with power and is capable of hitting 20+ home runs. He's the anchor in the middle of the Giants' order.
5) Hunter Pence, RF
Aside from giving tremendous speeches, Pence was a disappointment for the Giants after coming over at the trade deadline. The Giants need much, much more from him than the paltry .219/.287/.384 line he put up in San Francisco. On the plus side, he's looked very good this spring and seems to be hitting the ball the way he's capable of doing. If he carries that into the regular season, the Giants will be thrilled.
6) Brandon Belt, 1B
Finally given the starting job with no strings attached, Belt has looked fantastic this spring. He's made the necessary adjustments in his swing to hit the inside pitch and has been terrorizing pitchers as a result. If he keeps it up once the games start for real, expect him to move up in the lineup sooner rather than later. It's not a stretch to imagine him hitting fifth, third, or even second in the order.
7) Gregor Blanco, LF
The weakest position in the lineup. Blanco figures to split time with Andres Torres to start the season, but it remains to be seen whether either of them can hit enough to stay in the lineup every day. Don't be surprised if Francisco Peguero, who's looked impressive this spring, eventually takes the job. For now, Blanco is the starter.
8) Brandon Crawford, SS
Crawford has made great strides as a hitter over the last year and doesn't at all resemble the player that looked lost at the plate at the beginning of 2012. The Giants will be happy as long he continues to play great defense, but don't be surprised to see him contribute more offensively this year. He's turning into a solid hitter.
9) Matt Cain, SP
Cain makes his first opening-day start for the Giants, and it's a well-deserved one. He's the rock of the rotation and their most consistent starter whose just entering his prime as a pitcher. This won't be the last opening-day start he makes for the Giants in his career.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who has written about the Giants for the better part of a decade. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. You can follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
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