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THE PAYOFF PITCH ...
BEN REITER
March 26, 2012
BEST CASE
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March 26, 2012

The Payoff Pitch ...

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BEST CASE

A Buster Posey--led offense hits just enough to support a second-to-none—not even to the Phillies'—pitching staff. As it did in 2010, that formula takes San Francisco to the World Series.

WORST CASE

No one produces at the plate—not imports Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, not Aubrey Huff, not Brandon Belt, not even Posey. The Giants find themselves losing low-scoring affairs night after night after night.

BEST CASE

A roster with depth at every position save shortstop and catcher—top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer won't even start the year in the big leagues, even though he's ready—improves on last year's NLDS appearance.

WORST CASE

A bullpen that was a surprise in 2011 (3.71 ERA) regresses to its MLB-worst '10 form (5.74 ERA), and starters Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson don't repeat their '11 performances. A top 10 offense can't save them.

BEST CASE

Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Dee Gordon, the leadoff-hitting shortstop ("He's off the charts in a lot of ways—athleticism, speed, quickness," says Don Mattingly), spark an offense that scores nearly 800 runs.

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