The calendar may have changed but national writers thinking that the Giants just don't have what it takes sure hasn't.
The Giants World Series victory is largely seen as something lucky or fluky outside of the Bay Area. I will give that the team caught good breaks but that is bound to happen to any team that wins in a short playoff series but fluky? No last years title run was anything but that.
This was a talented team with flaws but none the less a talented team. The 2011 vintage has retained all but a couple of the players from that team and is still a flawed but very talented team. So that now that it is time to look ahead it begins again that the Giants are being looked past by the national scene.
The Giants get a pat on the head told they are cute but told it is time for the big boys to play now.
Here is what Yahoo! sports writer Jeff Passen said in his preview of the team:
So, yeah, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner doesn’t look quite as dominant, not unless they repeat their performance over the last two months of 2010, which amounts to a near-impossible task. They are good. Just not that good. And the Giants as a whole certainly do not stack up to the Phillies, not when their lineup remains Posey and a bunch of guys who may or may not hit.The main points that I want to address here is that the Giants do in fact match up pretty well against just about every team in the National league and should be expected to be among the contenders for the playoffs once again.
At this point, only a fool ignores the fact that the Phillies are a far superior team than the Giants. San Francisco outplayed Philadelphia last October, no question, but to conflate fleeting glory with long-term viability is fallacious. Though the Giants remain capable of defeating any team in a short series because of their pitching, they’re simply not a team that’s built to survive a season, and it took an epic Padres collapse and underachievement from the Rockies and Dodgers to do so last year
Before getting to the heart of the argument let's talk really quick about the NL west rivals, the Padres were playing over there heads for months and still very nearly pulled off a tie on the 162nd game of the season, the Rockies and the Dodgers didn't really under achieve as much as that they like all of the teams in the NL west were flawed and they just couldn't overcome them.
Now the big question, can the hang with the Phillies? Basically yes they can. They are in fact two very evenly matched teams.
I took the liberty to do a quick and dirty comparison between the teams using the Cairo projections for 2011. What I found is that the Phillies according to my projections will score around 4.565 runs per game and allow 3.956 runs per game. Using the Pythagorean expectation that comes out to a winning percentage of 0.571 or 92.5 wins.
For the Giants they are projected to score around 4.339 runs per game and allow 3.751 runs per game. Using the Pythagorean expectation that gives them a winning percentage of 0.572 or 92.7 wins.
So according to these quick projections the two teams are roughly equal. So if it makes me "a fool" for thinking that the Giants are not too far behind the Phillies or even on the same page then I am perfectly fine with that.
Methodology for the projections: I used the Cairo projections which are freely available here. For the lineups I used the projected lineups from MLB Depth Charts. For the runs per game I used the Baseball Musings lineup analyzer 1998-2002 model.
For the pitching stats I used the runs allowed in Cairo for each starting pitcher times the average innings per game started and then had the bullpen finish the remaining innings.
The formula for total runs per game looks like this: (SP RA/9)*(Innings/GS) + (RP RA/9)*(9-(SP Innings))
For the bullpens I used information from last seasons bullpens as a proxy for Bullpen RA, for the Phillies the number is 4.2 RA and the Giants 3.1 RA.
I have made no attempt to try to quantify park effects, defense, bench or any of the little details of the game. This is just a quick and rough look at things.