By John Shea @real_johnshea on May 23, 2014
The unsurprising San Francisco Giants own the best record in the National League and currently boast the third highest statistical chance of earning a spot in the 2014 MLB postseason. The Giants aren't a flashy ball club by any stretch, but they have the pieces in place to contend for their third World Series title in a span of five years. San Francisco's relative dominance in early action can be attributed to five irreplaceable players.
Veteran left-handed hurler Tim Hudson has been a rock in the middle of the Giants' starting rotation. He's arguably one of the most underrated free agent acquisitions of the most recent offseason. Although Hudson, like many pitchers, struggles with his command at times, he's stingy in allowing runs. The 38-year-old owns a solid 4-2 record with a 2.13 ERA and microscopic 0.88 WHIP in 63.1 innings pitched this season. He's a proven winner.
Pence got off to a slow start after signing a massive five-year contract worth $ 90 million over the offseason, but he has been impressive as of late. He's been on a torrid pace in May, compiling a .907 OPS with nine extra-base hits and seven RBIs. His batting average has risen 27 points since the calendar flipped from April. Pence has played in every inning of every game in 2014 and doesn't plan on taking a breather on the pine anytime soon.
Bumgarner hasn't performed at a consistently high level this season, but hehas registered solid numbers in spite of intermittent struggles. The potential Cy Young Award candidate owns a 5-3 record with a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts this season. He's yet to get into a groove on a start-by-start basis but remains a crucial component of the Giants' successes. He's currently allowing 10.3 hits per nine innings but somehow finds a way to get the job done.
The Giants plummeted out of first place in May of 2013 when Pagan landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury that eventually required surgery, derailing their World Series defense. San Francisco's lead-off hitter is a run-producing catalyst. He's off to one of the best starts of his nine-year career in 2014, registering a .361 on-base percentage with 13 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases. He also plays excellent outfield defense.
Posey is arguably the most irreplaceable player in all of baseball. The Giants have won two World Series titles in Posey's three full seasons at the big league level. The 27-year-old backstop has earned more hardware than an outdoor shed since arriving on scene in 2010. He's been solid for San Francisco in 2014, recording an .811 OPS with seven home runs and 23 RBIs. Posey's presence in the box and behind the plate makes the Giants a contender.
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