My last post asked if the Giants first place start after a month was for real. Well, 3 months worth of baseball has been played and... the Giants are still in first place. In my last entry they were up a half game on the Dodgers and 1.5 games on the Padres and sported a .607 winning percentage. Naturally they've come back to earth a little, right? Nah, not these "resilient" Giants! They still only lead the Dodgers by a half game, at one point being up as much as 4.5 games, but they now lead the Padres by 3.5 games and their winning percentage sits at .630! This Giants team has surprised even the most optimistic of Giants fans and has surprised all of major league baseball. They are, at the time of this writing, the best team in baseball, and we are officially halfway through the season. They have played 81 games and sit at 51-30. They are 21 games over .500. The most important part? It looks sustainable.
The Giants started the season with the starting pitching being elite but the offense being somewhat MIA and a bullpen that caused fans to hide under a blanket anytime a reliever not named McGee or Rogers entered a game. We knew the rotation wasn't going to stay unhittable and unbeatable and Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood have course corrected their hot starts but Anthony DeSclafani and Kevin Gausman have remained solidly above average. Gausman would be the favorite to start the All Star Game if it wasn't for some cyborg named Jacob deGrom pitching in the same league. DeSclafani is a borderline All Star himself, posting a sub 3 ERA despite the fact he had one start where he gave up 10 runs (to the Dodgers, of course). Aaron Sanchez broke down like Aaron Sanchez does and his backup, Logan Webb, also went down with injury. Since then, the Giants rubbed their magic genie lamp and procured Sammy Long. Long hasn't been totally tantalizing yet at the major league level, but he's had flashes of dominant stuff, and he's going to be in the rotation for the foreseeable. As the starting pitching has regressed slightly, the offense has come alive and the bullpen has stabilized. After mixing and matching players from AAA, the Giants seem to have found a group in the pen that manager Gabe Kapler feels comfortable with and hence, the overuse of Rogers and McGee has ended. Dominic Leone, John Brebbia, and Zack Littell have all emerged as right handed relievers who can get the job done and strike people out. Jarlin Garcia and Jose Alvarez have settled down after rocky starts and have started contributing scoreless, effective innings. Jimmie Sherfy looks to be on the path as his fellow minor league free agent signing relievers Leone and Littell as being a clutch find. Rogers and McGee have combined for 24 saves in 30 opportunities although it wouldn't be absurd to see Farhan and Harris look for a lockdown closer at the deadline. Regardless, the bullpen has turned into a reliable unit.
The offense? Who are these guys? Buster Posey just got named to his 7th All Star team and he's the National League starter at catcher. Almost assuredly, Brandon Crawford will join him as a reserve and appear in his 4th All Star game. If Evan Longoria and Crawford hadn't tackled each other with Longoria seriously hurting his shoulder, he'd be in the discussion as well. In short, the old guys are carrying the offense. In 2012, when the core of Belt, Posey, and Crawford emerged and won a championship together for the first time (Buster of course already had one ring), who woulda thunk that 9 seasons later, that core would still be together and have the team competing for the playoffs and the best record in baseball?I am not sure even they would have believed it. Brandon Belt is having his most Brandon of Beltian seasons, where he's frustrated a bunch of Giants fans, but also still has put up very good numbers, but of course is on the injured list. It's the Brandon Belt Bingo card. Aside from the old fogeys leading the way, it's the unheralded minor league guys coming up to replace injured guys that are helping put numbers on the board. LaMonte Wade Jr looks to be a major leaguer here to stay and the Giants got him from the Twins for erratic reliever Shaun Anderson. Jaylin Davis might have figured it out this time and the Giants got him for reliever Sam Dyson from the Twins. Zack Littell also was a minor league free agent signing after the Twins non-tendered him. For Giants fans pining for Taylor Rogers or Jose Berrios or some other Twinkie, Minnesota may have blocked the Giants phone number. Mauricio Dubon has struggled this year, so of course his replacement Thairo Estrada comes up and hits a grand slam in the first game he appeared in as Dubie's replacement (with Dubon being sent to AAA). Austin Slater has been a mess this year but no worries, Steven Duggar will be the older minor leaguer that finally pieces it together and becomes the Steve Finley clone that Bochy tried to sell us on a few years ago! This team has depth! They have been built like the team they're trying to bury, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and man has the season been fun so far.
Not to mention the defense. This team reminds Giants fans of previous championship teams. They are catching the ball very well and pitching well. They're on pace to break the franchise record for homers in a season. In short, the Giants are for real and they are good. That being said, the Dodgers are still very good too and so are the Padres, so the 2nd half of the season is going to be an epic showdown. What will Farhan and Harris do at the deadline? Will the Giants get their own injured players back and producing? Will some of these breakouts continue or will the players regress? Stay tuned because this 2021 Giants season has been one of the most surprising and unexpected seasons in recent Giants memory!
Enjoy the 4th of July and the All Star Festivities and we shall see how the 2nd half unfolds.
As always: Beat LA!