San Francisco Giants’ Comforts and Worries Through Nine Games

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Baseball season is underway, and it has reached the point where we are used to having it as part of our everyday lives.

The San Francisco Giants have completed three series, and have come out of the season's infancy sharing first place with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Evaluating a baseball team that is 1/18 of the way through its season is a near-pointless exercise, with small sample sizes rendering nearly every insight meaningless.

But it's also impossible not to make judgments about certain players and trends. Before reminding oneself that the season has only barely even begun, it's fun to freak out about both the bad and the good.

With that in mind, let's take a look at signs of hope and trouble for the 2013 Giants:

Encouraging Developments

Hunter Pence. His play with the Giants in last year's regular season could be described as atrocious. Yet the Giants awarded him his raise in arbitration under the assumption that he would return to his career norms. Thus far, he's on his way to justifying that assumption. His three home runs have been impressive shots, and his .810 OPS is good for second highest on the team (Pablo Sandoval leads).

Sergio Romo. Through nine games, Romo is 5-for-5 in save opportunities, and he has allowed only one base runner. He's picked up right where he left off in last year's playoffs, and if he goes like this for much longer, Bruce Bochy's plan for closer-by-committee will quickly be forgotten.

A Comeback Win. On April 9, the Giants fell behind 5-1 (and later 6-2) to the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park. The deficit came in a frustratingly familiar outing from Tim Lincecum, and the team had every reason to be discouraged. But the deficit also came early in the game and Giants hitters were able to chip away, finally putting together a big inning to earn the W.

One game won't tell you much about a team, but it is always nice to see resiliency. By the end of last year, the Giants' offense was clicking to the point where I wasn't even worried if they fell behind. It would make for a much less stressful season if that were to continue this year.

Barry Zito. Not only is he the team's best pitcher (14 scoreless innings), he's their best hitter as well, riding two more hits April 10 to a nifty .750 average. Can he play left field?

Worrisome Issues

Tim Lincecum. The team's biggest question mark coming into this season, and so far, its largest concern. Last year, by some measures, Tim Lincecum was the worst pitcher in the National League. If he can scrape his way back to even average this year, it puts the Giants on solid ground to repeat as NL West champs.

But in his two starts this year (11 IP, 7 H, 11 BB), he has not looked at all like he's regained his old command. Too often, he gets to a point where he needs to make a pitch, and he just can't make it. While he looked outstanding in the playoffs last year, it's possible that those innings were an aberration, and he just didn't pitch enough of them for things to blow up on him. It's also possible he'll right the ship and win another Cy Young. What? It is possible.

Buster Posey. Specifically, his lack of power. His .414 slugging percentage is nothing to fret about, especially over just a nine-game stretch. But he has yet to hit a home run, and when you notice he didn't hit one all spring, either, it's cause for mild concern.

So far there have been few surprises for the Giants this year, and that itself is no surprise considering the team brought back 21 out of the 25 guys on the World Series-winning roster. Most stats mean next to nothing at this point, but the Giants can be encouraged by the two stats that will mean the exact same thing at the end of the year as they do right now: 6 wins and 3 losses.

Michael Meade lives in San Francisco, and has followed the Giants for 20+ years. He's contributed pieces on the Giants to various sports blogs.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @mmeade06.

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