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Braden and Brian Wilson, San Francisco’s closer who led the majors with 48 saves last season, talk pitching nearly every day. They traveled the world together this winter.

These cycles in baseball aren’t always easily explained, though they make for interesting conversation.

“For some reason in the game, in this little short window of time, it’s become an age of the pitcher. And we’ve seen how powerful it can be in our case,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy picked his next World Series winner on Day 1 of spring training this year _ based on pitching. His call: Philadelphia, behind its stellar rotation of Cliff Lee, Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton.

“I think everybody in the National League would tell you the road to the World Series has to go through Philadelphia, with the quality of their staff,” Bochy said. “Because of track record I think you would have to look at their staff as the best in baseball.”

San Francisco beat those favored Phillies _ minus Lee _ in the NL championship series last season. Then the Giants took out Lee and the Texas Rangers for the franchise’s first title since moving West in 1958 and first overall since ‘54.

So, everybody realizes anything can happen.

“That’s the crazy thing about baseball,” said Giants catcher and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey. “It very well could be the Year of the Pitcher, or it could be the Year of the Hitter. You never know. It’s constantly changing.”

Jason Giambi has watched enough things turn during 16 seasons in the majors he is convinced hitters will come around in due time.

“It’s exciting when the game is cycled to see all these young pitchers come up. It’s a lot of fun,” the veteran Rockies slugger said. “There are a lot in the minor leagues. It’s going to turn back around, too.”


AP Baseball Writers Joe Kay and Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.