After last season when the Giants won the World Series (yes, it's still fun to type that out), we were left with a handful of important questions that will determine if winning the winter classic was a fluke or not.
Will Aubrey Huff repeat his comeback numbers of last season? Will Buster Posey sink into the notorious "sophomore slump"? Can Pablo Sandoval's weight loss transfer into his 2009 numbers? Will Pat Burrell hit like he did in the Playoffs last season?
All of these questions may not be able to be answered right now, but spring training numbers can shed some light on the regular season.
So far, the Giants have played a total of 32 Spring training games in Arizona in 2011, so consider this a small sample size.
Aubrey Huff is currently hitting .350 in 19 games, with five home runs and 15 RBIs to lead the team. What is more impressive is that he only has five strikeouts and a .650 slugging %. Although he may not hit this well in the regular season, he does seem to be seeing the ball well and is hitting everything with authority. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic here.
The next question is if Posey's rookie season was a fluke. I'm happy to say it most certainly wasn't.
Posey is currently leading the team with a .405/.537/.714 stat line in 17 games as catcher this spring. Just the other day he had most of his at-bats result in a walk (so far, 11 walks, one strikeout) while hitting 3 home runs and driving in 11. It's another safe assumption that Posey is bound for another prosperous year, perhaps MVP worthy.
One of the biggest topics thrown around this spring is the resurgence of Pablo Sandoval. After a mediocre season in 2010, he trained hard and found himself almost 40 pounds lighter. So far, its paying off. He is second on the team in hits this spring and he has also crushed 3 home runs with 12 RBIs while maintaining a .290 average.
Sandoval's 14 strikeouts (tied second on the team) are a concern about his plate discipline (only three walks) but he continues to find himself much more productive than last season.
Finally, Burrell's spring has been unlike the ones listed above. He has been struggling at the plate with a .235 average, but he still continues to get on base with a .350 OBP. He has only 2 home runs with 8 RBIs but a good indicator is his 1.11 K/BB rate (9 walks, 10 strikeouts in 19 games), certainly an improvement from last years playoffs' 3.14 K/BB rate.
So all of these questions are far from answered, but I hope the numbers provided will put an optimistic outlook on the 2011 season.
UPDATE: as I wrote this, Huff hit a home run and Burrell hit a 2-RBI double...