San Francisco Giants – Mid-Season Report Card
Team: San Francisco Giants
Record: 43-51 (6.5 GB)
Biggest Surprise of 1st Half:
The biggest surprise of the 1st half is obviously how poorly the Giants have played the past couple of months, playing themselves out of 1st place and into 4th in the NL West division. But if I had to choose a player, it would be Giants second basemen Marco Scutaro. Since being traded to the Giants at the trade deadline in the 2012 season, all he’s done is hit for a phenomenal batting average. He was the catalyst that ignited the Giants offense and that great run the final two months of the 2012 regular season, and it continued into the postseason, leading the Giants to their 2nd World Series title in three years. But he was a free agent after the season, and there was some debate whether the Giants were going to bring Scutaro back, as he was 37 years old and wanted a 3-year contract. The Giants, banking on the hopes that his two-month stint with the team was no fluke, rewarded Scutaro and his clutch play with a 3-year, $18 million contract. So far, he has not disappointed. Scutaro is currently batting .316, with 37 runs, 17 2B’s, 2 HR’s, 22 RBI’s, 24/26 K/BB ratio, .367 OBP and a .767 OPS; earning Scutaro his very first All-Star appearance of his career.
Biggest Disappointment of 1st Half:
Again, the biggest disappointment could very well be the play and record of the overall team thus far, but keeping it to a single player, there is no question that the biggest disappointment of the 1st half has to be Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain. After signing the second largest contract for a starting pitcher (6-year, $127.5 million) before the 2012 season, Cain posted one of his best seasons, finishing with a 16-5 W-L record, with a 2.79 ERA, 193 K’s, 51 BB’s, and a 1.04 WHIP. He became the ace of a dominating Giants starting pitching staff. This season however, it’s been quite the opposite. Cain has been a major disappointment this 2013 season, posting a 5-6 W-L record, with a 5.06 ERA, and giving up 16 HR’s thus far this season. But what has been most alarming has been his performance in his two most recent outings. First against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cain got rocked, lasting only 2.1 IP allowing 8 R’s, all earned, 6 H’s, with 4 BB’s. He followed up that performance with only the shortest outing of his career. Against the New York Mets, Cain lasted just 0.2 IP, allowing 3 R’s, all earned, 2 H’s, and 3 BB’s. Cain just didn’t look right, some questioning how healthy he really is. With the All-Star break coming up, Cain can hopefully take a long break before his next start, and get right for a strong second half.
If there is one bright spot for the Giants this season, it is the reigning 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey. Coming into this 2013 season and building off an already stellar start to his career (Rookie of the Year award, two-time World Series winner, 2012 NL MVP), the Giants rewarded their All-Star catcher with a 9-year, $167 million contract extension, virtually making him a Giant for life. There has been no let-down in Posey’s play whatsoever. Currently this season, Posey is batting .325, with 13 HR’s, 56 RBI’s, and a .931 OPS, well on his way to potentially capturing his second NL MVP award in as many years. And just as a fun fact: Posey has the #1 selling jersey in all of baseball. There is not much else you can say about Posey except that he is easily one of the top 5 players in all of baseball right now; and without him, it’s scary to think where the Giants may be.
Prospect Ready To Make An Impact:
Unfortunately, the Giants don’t have a lot of Major League ready prospects who can provide immediate help to them. They do have one prospect who waits in the wings and he is relief pitcher Heath Hembree. Rated #5 on both ESPN’s Keith Law’s top 10 organizational prospect list and MLB.com’s top 20 organizational prospect list for the Giants, Hembree is currently closing out ball games for the Giants triple-A affiliate, Fresno Grizzlies. This season so far, Hembree has a 1-2 W-L record with a 4.42 ERA, 19 SV’s, 12 BB’s, 47 K’s, 10.9 K/9, and a 1.34 WHIP, in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The Giants bullpen has been in need of a solid, reliable, right-handed relief pitcher ever since Santiago Casilla went down with a leg-injury that has put him out for most of the 1st half. While he is due back in time for the start of the 2nd half, there is no telling how reliable his health will be. If Casilla should continue to be hampered by his injury and the Giants pen continues to suffer, we could see Hembree pitching sooner than a September call-up.
Contender or Pretender:
I’m going to put the Giants in the pretender column because as of late, they haven’t looked like the defending World Series Champions we have grown accustomed to seeing. However, I do this with great caution. Right now as we speak, the Giants are in 4th place in the NL West division, 6.5 games back of the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks. The NL West division as a whole thus far this season has been horrible and inconsistent, and in the seasons the Giants won both their World Series championships, they had to come from behind or fight off stiff competition from their competitors in the NL West. So, if there is any team in all of Major League Baseball who can make-up this deficit, it’s the Giants.
Overall Team Analysis:
There is no denying that the 2013 Giants have been a disappointment. Their starting pitching and bullpen hasn’t lived up to their dominating reputation, their offense has been inconsistent, and their defense has been spotty at best. The team has also had its fair share of injuries, losing leadoff hitter and center fielder Angel Pagan for the season, starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong missed most of the 1st half of the season with a hand injury, both Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval have missed time with injuries, but that is no excuse. No one will spot you runs or feel sorry for you. But we’re talking about the Giants here. This team has a whole lot of heart and are capable of getting hot at any time. If they come out from the All-Star break and get on a good run to start the 2nd half, they could find themselves very much in the thick-of-things in the NL West and playoff race.