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What to Make of These 2022 Giants at the All Star Break

Joc Pederson. All Star. Carlos Rodon. All Star. 

That's it? At the beginning of the 2022 season, would Giants fans be surprised only two guys off the roster would make the All Star team? I've tried to ask myself that question and I can't come up with an answer. I think if I answered honestly, I would have hoped that some pitchers would have made it. Rodon, for certain. And definitely Logan Webb after his tear through the NL in 2021 and the assumption he'd be the ace of the staff in 2022 and for years after. But who else would I have expected to be an All Star? Maybe Brandon Belt, coming off a year where he hit 29 homers and looked to have taken it up a notch? Maybe he would finally be on his way to that 30 homer season and earn an All Star berth. Maybe even Camilo Doval would make it as the heir apparent to the closer's role for a contending team. But aside from guys from the pitching staff, did any Giants fan think any position player would be an All Star? With their platoon heavy approach, it would be hard to imagine anyone amassing the statistics needed to get an All Star bid. Brandon Crawford finished 4th in MVP voting in 2021 but most Giants fans would honestly tell you they expected a regression. Maybe Crawford would hit closer to .250 than .300 and not quite be the offensive force he was last season and that would be fine. Maybe he could be an All Star but most Giants fans probably weren't counting on it. So it's sort of a shock that a position player made the squad. It was the Giants lone offseason acquisition on the position player side and it's pretty well deserved. Logan Webb was a notable omission, as he's been every bit as good as he was in 2021. But sniffing around the rest of the Giants roster? Nope, no other Giant deserves to be there. They'll get a brief reprieve for four days before opening up the 2nd half with four games against the Dodgers. 

Oh yeah, the Dodgers. The team they trail by 12.5 games. Look, no one expected 107 wins again in 2022, but fans did expect a competitive squad that could give the Dodgers a run. Well, the Giants are sort of that? Head to head, they lead the series 3-2. The fact these two teams have only played 5 games in the first half is insane, but they've held their own. They got swept in LA in a 2-game series then swept the Dodgers at Oracle Park. They've played basically .500 versus everyone else, which explains why this team is basically .500. They've gone into the All Star break with a 48-43 record. If the playoffs started today, the Giants would not be a participant, despite the addition of a 3rd wildcard. They're not even in second place in the NL West. That silver trophy currently belongs to the Padres, who haven't had Fernando Tatis Jr the entire season but may get him back in the not too distant future. The Padres look much more like the team they were supposed to be last season, though never underestimate the power of the Padres to Padre. They still have a whole 2nd half they could blow, even if Tatis Jr comes back and doesn't miss a beat. Could the Giants take advantage even if the Padres collapsed? Well, if you asked most Giants fan a week ago, they'd say no. The team had been playing terribly for a few weeks, looking quite literally like the worst team in the National League, if not all of baseball. All the little things they did right in 2021 they apparently completely forgot how to do in 2022. Basic defense? An issue. The bullpen that was so good last season? A mess. Giants fans can't even get mad when Kapler brings in a reliever who coughs it up because the chances are no matter who he brought in would have coughed it up. The rotation? Until just recently, it was majorly underwhelming. Webb and Rodon have carried the rotation, if not the team, during the first half. Everyone behind them? Inconsistent at best and a disaster at worst. Anthony DeSclafani is out for the year and most Giants fans feel just fine about that given the 9.95 ERA he had in a handful of starts. The Alex's Wood and Cobb have been 5 inning question marks. Jakob Junis, who was a depth signing, has easily been the 3rd best starter but he's been on the injured list more than he's pitched. Matthew Boyd who was signed to give the rotation a lift sometime in June? Had a setback and may never suit up for the Giants. The Giants had an issue with its rotation last season and had to endure a lot of bullpen games. The Giants tried to avoid that this season and somehow didn't. The bullpen has made 10 starts out of 91 games. That may not sound like a lot, but... it's a lot! That's not because the Giants were trying to be cute and giving their starters an extra day, it's because they don't have starters in AAA they feel comfortable actually starting. Sean Hjelle? He's made his MLB debut, but as a reliever. It's clear the Giants don't view him as a starter in the majors. Aside from Hjelle, where's the help? Can anyone even name anyone in the River Cats rotation? It doesn't seem like the Giants are in any hurry to audition their AAA guys for a starting role. That's an indictment on the AAA roster. 

Aside from the poor defense and the questionable pitching, the hitting has been an enigma. If you look just at the stats, it looks like the Giants actually have a pretty decent offense. But as a fan that watches every single game, day in day out, it's hard not to get discouraged when the opposition scores 3 runs. It's hard seeing the Giants scoring 3+ runs consistently. They are built to hit home runs. They do not play small ball (although they lead baseball in bunt hits, go figure). They don't hit and run. They don't have team speed. So they either score by hitting homers or have to string a few hits together at the very least. It's hard to score runs in bunches if the team can't score from 1st with a double. And it's hard to score if you can't hit with runners in scoring position very well. The Giants offense has mostly been infuriating the first half of 2022. Any time they get a runner on, it feels like they hit into a double play the next at-bat or hit into unproductive outs. In short, the Giants don't have a strength. You can't point to one thing the Giants actually do well. Defense? Nope, they're one of the worst defensive Giants teams in recent memory. Starting pitching? It started coming around the last week of the first half and there is reason for optimism there going forward but collectively in the first half they've largely been mediocre. The bullpen? As Forrest Gump so wisely said, you never know what you're gonna get with that group. Offense? Maddeningly inconsistent. Team speed? Molasses. So how is this team 48-43 and only a half game out of the wildcard despite all their flaws? 

I have no idea. The National League is top heavy and not very good. It's the Mets and Dodgers and Braves that look to be the cream of the crop and everyone else sort of looks meh. 8 teams are over .500 in the NL, and the Giants are the last of those 8. The Marlins are the only other team at least 5 games within .500 while the rest are probably making vacation plans for early October. That's the good news for the Giants. They look very mediocre this year, a far cry from when they looked very dominant in 2021. But luckily for them, the NL looks very mediocre. They fit right in! 

There's a few teams baseball fans know not to take too seriously perennially. The Giants are chasing three of those teams in the Phillies, Padres, and Mets. The Mets have the second best record in the National League (behind you know who) but like the Padres, you can almost always count on the Mets to Met, although this season does feel a little different, considering they have Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues but is getting very close. The Phillies no-defense experiment has somehow not completely imploded, but again, do the Phillies scare anyone? They always seemingly tail off in September too. The Cardinals are ahead of the Giants (by that half game) and the Cardinals are the anti-Mets/Padres/Phillies, they always find a way to be annoying. The Giants just took 3 of 4 from the Brewers to close out the first half, and the Brewers are currently the NL Central division leaders. They have learned how to get to October over the years but it had to have planted some seeds that the Giants are 4-1 against them so far this season. 

So again, what is there to make of these Giants? They're just so perfectly mediocre. Their longest losing streak has been 6 games. Their longest winning streak has been 6 games. The most runs they've given up in a game? 15. The most runs they've scored in a game? 15. They've been shut out 4 times and shut out their opponents 4 times. They've had 5 walk offs, and been walked off 6 times. What's it all mean? I have no clue, but it does seem like this team doesn't get too high or too low. They've barely been fully healthy the entire season. So maybe there's hope. The rotation was just starting to sharpen up before the All Star break. The bullpen was still a work in progress but the offense was starting to show some signs of life. 

And oh yeah, the Trade Deadline is approaching in a few weeks. Allegedly, there's some 23 year old superstar named Juan Soto available for the right price. While it would be super to land the most exciting position player (only) since Barry Bonds, maybe a couple solid relief arms would actually be the difference between landing a wildcard spot and frustratingly missing the playoffs by a game or two. The Giants don't feel too far off, despite the fact they don't do anything well. Of course, any time they throw a ball to Timbuktu on a routine grounder, it seems like they are light years from the playoffs.

As Farhan and Kapler have spouted over and over, if they can clean up the defense, they can win a lot more games. It allows the starters to stay in the game longer, which in turn means less of a stinky bullpen, and, in theory, less pressure on an offense that's still finding its way. The Giants rotation opening up the 2nd half, theoretically being Rodon, Webb, Junis, Wood, and Cobb is good enough to keep the team in games. They just have to stop giving those games away. Time will tell. 

Then again, a Juan Soto sure would help.


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