Willie Mays, Alvin Dark and Johnny Antonelli, who provide a tremendously strong, tried nucleus for a championship club. The double-barreled relief pitching of Hoyt Wilhelm and Marvin Grissom. The remarkably large proportion of real all-round athletic ability: men who can run, throw, hit, field and think, and who seem to thrive on playing. Durocher's ability to make a winning club think it is invincible.
Shaky second-line pitching between top starters and relief men. Lack of competent all-round outfield reserves (Rhodes is strictly a pinch hitter).
Promising group, but help for World Series team is expected only from Infielder Foster Castleman who spent last half of '54 with Giants, played only 13 games.
THE BIG IFS:
Sal Maglie and Monte Irvin. Maglie, 37, must approximate last year's fine record (14-6); Irvin must forget last year (.262), hit as he did in '51 (.312, 121 RBIs). If Maglie fails, rehabilitated Jim Hearn has to take up slack. If Irvin fails, Giants could be in serious trouble.
Hard to fault Giants now; they are the team to beat.
THIS YEAR'S PROSPECTS:
For the most part, a seasoned team of hard-hitting, smooth-fielding old pros. Two really outstanding power hitters in Duke Snider and Gil Hodges. One of the great infielders of all time in Pee Wee Reese.
Age is catching up with the whole team. Young replacements like Gilliam, Hoak, Zimmer, Amoros have yet to prove themselves as real major leaguers. Pitching staff long on quantity but notoriously undependable, lacking a reliable "stopper."
Karl Spooner, strike-out sensation at the tail end of last season, is being counted on to prove in '55 that '54 was no fluke.