Worry power rankings for the 2014 Giants

Thearon W. Henderson

So far. It's been, like, a week.

The Giants are 8-5 and in second place. Other than a miserable caining and other assorted piles of nonsense, the season has gone well. Focusing on the losses, and only the losses, seems like a great way to miss a 100-win season one of these years.

That doesn't mean there aren't some things than can work better, of course. Even though the Giants have more Brandons with an .800-or-better OPS than the rest of the league combined, there are still gaps in the lineup and rotation, as well as the bullpen and bench. Here, then, is a Worry Power Ranking. The ones at the bottom? Don't sweat them. They'll be fine. The ones at the top? Get nervous, if only because I want company.

7. Pablo Sandoval

First off, the list only goes up to seven, which is probably a good sign. Second, I'm not even slightly worried about Pablo Sandoval. Is he pressing because of the contract year? If he were pressing, he wouldn't be tied for the team lead in walks. Also, this team should probably think about walking more.

Does he need the weight back on? Do the rolls act as a complex series of counterweights that help his swing function the way it should? Is he thinking about the money? Question rhetorical question open question just wondering just saying?

Nope. To all of it. He might have a down season, and he might need to make some mechanical adjustments, but I'm still predicting a big year. That's not a pun because he's not big!

6. Bench

One of the biggest reasons the Nationals had such a lousy start last year was that their bench was unfathomably bad. Like, three or four normally solid guys hitting under .150. You can't predict that sort of thing, and you can't even really fix it. Benches are subject to the nastiest of sample-size gremlins.

That written, here's how I'd break down the bench:

Reasonable-to-excellent bench option, hitting below expectations and likely to improve
Gregor Blanco
Hector Sanchez
Joaquin Arias
Juan Perez

A stretch to be on a major-league bench
Ehire Adrianza

These 27 plate appearances are pretty much unimpeachable
Brandon Hicks

The only one I'm iffy on is Adrianza, but having one defense-first infielder on the bench isn't a bad idea. It's not a great bench -- it would need a designated thumper like a 50-year-old Jim Thome for that -- but it's not this bad. They'll get better.

5. Matt Cain

It's a lot easier to write after he did well against the Rockies, getting swing-throughs with a lively fastball, but I'm not too concerned about Cain. Yet. Chris's post on sliders and arm slots is sticking in my head, but it's worth noting that Cain had less-than-stellar starts to the 2009 and 2010 seasons, too. It's almost as if you need a full season to get a good read on a pitcher to … no, no, it's not time for my wacky theories, yet.

4. Hunter Pence

This is the part of the list where we start to get into the worriest of worries. It's not that I'm unwilling to attribute Pence's slow start to sample size. I am. It's not that he's doing anything egregiously awful that would separate this from the typical Pence slump. He isn't. But Pence seems like the kind of player who can't help but screw himself into the ground when he's trying to not screw himself deeper into the ground. Missed the outside slider? Swing harder at the next pitch because it's probably a fastball. If that doesn't work, swing harder. If that doesn't …

I'm more worried about the next couple months than the next couple years. Most of the time, a player defined as "streaky" might not deserve the label. Pence is the very definition, though. Even if there's no tangible evidence to prove that assertion, I feel comfortable going with ol' Uncle Anecdotal on this one. Ol' Uncle Anecdotal gives the raddest Christmas presents, everyone.

3. Tim Lincecum

More words on Lincecum's struggles, no one asked? Well, ok, if you insist.

Actually, I'm out of words on Lincecum's struggles. He's faced Paul Goldschmidt in his first two games, which is extremely unfair. He'll have 28 or 29 more without him. He's faced 45 batters, striking out 12 and walking one. That's good. Shouldn't Lincecum be good? Seems like he should be. Let me just talk about his xFIP some more and fllgghhhhfhuuuhhhhj.

If Lincecum breaks Orel Hershiser's ill-gotten scoreless-innings streak over his next eight starts, I'll still worry every time he takes the mound. That's how it's been. That's how it shall be. It's been a long two years.

2. Ryan Vogelsong

Imagine a golden, supernatural being descending from the clouds to give you cool stuff and cook your meals. One minute he's not there. The next minute you have a Playstation 4 and amazing cioppino. This goes on for a couple of years, and you can't stop smiling. Then one year, you find a toenail in the cioppino. Then he starts hitting on your significant other. Then he takes your car without asking and leaves it at the bar. Then, without warning, he disappears back into the clouds.

Are you surprised that it didn't last forever? Were you really expecting to? Shouldn't you just appreciate the cool stuff that happened?

On the other hand, Vogelsong sure did look good for stretches in each of his first two games …

1. Brandon Belt

Oh, heck yes. He has five home runs and the wind cries Brandon. But in his 53 plate appearances, he's struck out 16 times and walked once.

He's struck out 16 times and walked once.

He's struck out 16 times and walked once.

He's struck out 16 times and walked once.

Dental plan.

He's struck out 16 times and walked once.

Dental plan …

Can't get it out of my head. And just like Pence up there, I fully expect Belt to slump more once he gets deep into one. The power is encouraging. The approach is not. Small samples apply for each, and I'm more encouraged by the former than I am discouraged by the latter. But he's struck out 16 times and walked once. Gulp.

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