Throughout the offseason and the preseason and all the way up to the Giants’ season opener against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers today, much of the national attention seems to have turned away from the defending World Series champions from San Francisco.
It’s Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated last week, and his team that has been picked by many to finish atop the National League West at the end of the season.
While the Dodgers garnered the attention by revamping their offense over the past nine months, the Giants bring back a formula that is virtually unchanged from the one we saw in October: the best offense is still a good defense.
While the pitching staff gets the bulk of the attention for keeping opponents off the scoreboard, it’s the defense of the Giants position players that sets them apart from the rest of the competition.
Brandon Crawford got off to a rocky start defensively in 2012, but by the end of the season he had earned a reputation as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. And the Giants pitchers are enjoying watching the 26-year-old flash the leather.
“It’s definitely an asset when you have a guy like that,” starter Tim Lincecum said of Crawford. “As athletic as he is and young and has the range that he does, especially with the arm. It looks like he’s just having fun out there. It makes it fun to watch.”
And while no statistics are commonly used to measure the defensive impact of catchers — beyond catching potential base stealers — it’s clear Buster Posey, who on Friday inked a $167 million deal that will keep him with the Giants through 2021, has helped this staff feel more comfortable on the mound.
Nearly every pitcher on the roster says he throws whatever Posey tells him to, trusting the reigning NL MVP to keep a sound strategy.
So while the Dodgers continue to draw the headlines and the national television appearances, the Giants should continue to dazzle around the diamond as they attempt to become the first back-to-back World Series champions in 13 years.
Giants vs. Dodgers
WHEN: Today, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
RADIO: KNBR (680 AM)
Matt Clayton Cain Kershaw