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MLB San Francisco Giants

Predicting The San Francisco Giants’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup

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Predicting The San Francisco Giants' 2014 Opening Day Lineup

Giants
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

Last season was a major letdown for the defending World Series champions as they failed to even make the playoffs. An array of injuries and serial under-performance were some key causes of the regression in 2013, but the Giants have all of the pieces necessary to make another run in 2014. With the rival Dodgers in the division, it isn't going to be easy, but their lineup is solid nonetheless.

Several players are looking to have career-defining seasons in 2014 and that could help make or break the baseball season in San Francisco. Catcher Buster Posey is looking to prove that he can consistently produce power numbers similar to the ones he posted in 2012. First baseman Brandon Belt is looking to take the next step in his career as the former top prospect looks to come into his own. Other role players will certainly have to play their part as well for the Giants to be successful this season.

The addition of Mike Morse to the lineup is a welcomed addition and it gives the lineup more overall depth. It also solidifies an outfield that experienced some key injuries a season ago. With everyone healthy in the lineup and the rotation, the Giants look like they could be dangerous again this season. Appearances and results are two different things though, and only time will tell if they can duplicate their performance from 2012.

This lineup is going to contain some key lefties, which is somewhat unusual, but it can be beneficial. It also gives the team some added flexibility if they want to switch up the lineup from game to game depending on the opposing pitcher. Whatever the case may be, this lineup is out to prove that things are going to be different in 2014. Bench players need to contribute to the success of this team as well, but the lineup that is likely to start Opening Day is the group of players that will have to decide the fate of the Giants' season.

Jacob Kornhauser is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or add him to your Google+ network.

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9. OF Angel Pagan

Pagan
Ed Szczepanski - USA Today Sports

After turning his career around in San Francisco over the past few years, Pagan struggled to stay on the field in 2013. He played in just 71 games, but his relative production didn't drop. He provides a base-stealing threat and he is capable of picking up some extra base hits. If he can put himself on second or third consistently, expect the middle of the lineup to knock him in on a regular basis.

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8: SS Marco Scutaro

Marco
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

Scutaro is about as good a role player as you'll find. He isn't great at anything in particular, but he does his job and he does it well. He doesn't have power or base stealing ability, but he batted .297 last season and was consistently on base. Scutaro also rarely strikes out so he puts balls in play and makes things happen. Part of the reason he fits well into the No. 2 slot in the order is because he has the ability to execute the hit-and-run effectively.

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7. 1B Brandon Belt

Belt
Ed Szczepanski - USA Today Sports

Belt started to show a glimpse of his potential last season when he hit 17 home runs and drove in 67, but he still strikes out way too much. Simply because he splits up the order in terms of righty-lefty matchups and because he has gaps power, he fits into the No. 3 spot better than anyone else on the roster. The team would like to see him develop some more power hitting in this spot, though.

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6. Catcher Buster Posey

Posey
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

2014 is a big season for Posey. It's one in which he can show he can consistently duplicate his power output from 2012 or show that he's a glorified singles hitter. There is a good chance he could show off his power potential and even compete for the MVP award. If that happens then count on the Giants being in the playoff picture in September.

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5. OF Hunter Pence

Pence
Kelley L. Cox - USA Today Sports

Pence actually may have been the most productive member of the Giants a season ago. His unconventional and violent swing produced 27 home runs and 99 RBI a season ago while he managed to bat .283. Those are big numbers for a No. 5 hitter in a lineup. He provides power and the ability to drive in runs and more importantly he provides protection for Posey in front of him.

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4. 3B Pablo Sandoval

Pablo
Kelvin Kuo - USA Today Sports

Kung Fu Panda needs to take another major step in his career progression this year because every year he's looking more and more average. He had a great 2011 season, which raised expectations of him and he hasn't been able to live up to them. Sandoval is still a contributor when it comes to driving in runs. If San Francisco can reach the postseason, Sandoval's team can count on him to be a very clutch hitter.

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3. OF Mike Morse

Mike
Kim Klement - USA Today Sports

Over the past two seasons, the once-promising Morse has played for three different teams. Across those two seasons he hasn't been healthy a whole lot. He showed off 30-plus home run power in 2011, but has bottomed out ever since. The Giants are banking on the fact that he can regain some of that form power-wise and if he can even put 20 balls out of the ballpark for them, it would be a major win.

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2. 2B Brandon Crawford

Brandon
Noah K. Murray - USA Today Sports

Crawford isn't going to do anything special at the plate. He's in the lineup because he plays very good defense and can at least handle himself at the dish. Batting in the No. 8 hole, he can put some speed and base- running ability on the base paths in case the top of the order rolls back over in the same inning.

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1. Pitcher Matt Cain

Cain
Kelley L. Cox - USA Today Sports

As most Giants underachieved last season, the normally dominant Cain was no exception. He posted an ERA of 4.00, which was the second-highest of his nine-year career and just didn't seem like himself. A lot of that could've been impacted by the downward spiral the team took during the season. Expect a re-focused Cain; the most consistent pitcher for the Giants should be getting the ball on Opening Day this season.