3 July 2012, 5:51 PM
I have been meaning to write about my Giants. This seems like a good time—we’re leading the division, and we’ve just voted three of our guys to start the upcoming All-Star game. We have the second-best winning percentage in the league, and are about to start a series with the Washington Nationals, who (believe it or not) have the best record in the league. Even the traditionally Giants-skeptic BP Adjusted Standings have us at the top of the division and among the best in the league, and they give us an 83.5% chance of making the playoffs, which is the highest in the league.
So, are we good? Do we stink? How are my Giants doing?
Honestly, they’re doing pretty well. I’m not sanguine about it—this offense isn’t actually very good, and the thing about a team built around starting pitching is that any pitcher might clutch his shoulder at any moment and that’s it for your year. You want more detail? Sure, what the heck.
The offense: The Giants brilliant plan to have three center fielders suffers from the obvious problem that it’s a terrible, stupid plan that relies on Gregor Blanco, the White Shark, suddenly being a good hitter. And, you know, maybe, or maybe he just had a really good month. It also seems like doing without the traditional power-hitting corner outfielders is something you don’t want to combine with doing without traditional power-hitting corner infielders. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Panda, but counting on him to play at the top of his game for anything like a whole season is just… optimistic. So far he’s had one season where he was good, one season where he was out of shape, and two seasons where he got hurt. On the other hand, keep in mind that their middle infield is slugging .320 right now—this is a team that could improve its offense drastically by adding a league-average hitter. I would describe them as having two good hitters (Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey) and one good-but-fragile hitter, with the possibility of Brandon Belt being good as well, and no reason to think that Angel Pagan will stink. That puts them close to an average offense, with (as I say) some easy opportunities for trading up.
The pitching: Wow. Here’s the thing: We have had three extraordinary starting pitchers this year. And Tim Lincecum. Who has not been good at all. I don’t think he’s finished, though; I don’t expect another Cy Young season out of him, but I expect him to be fairly good again at some point. So I actually think that—barring injury, of course—I expect the starting pitching to be better in the second half than it was in the first. Which is very, very good indeed. The bullpen is good as well (particularly Sergio Romo, who I consider underused) but the great thing about the starting pitching is that we don’t need to use our fourth or fifth best relief pitcher every few games. We do use them, of course, for one or two batters, because Bruce Bochy is like that, but it’s only for one or two batters, and often the game isn’t even on the line.
The competition: The team we beat out of first place without letting them score any runs is suffering from massive injuries. We’ve been there. It stinks. They aren’t going to win the division without their two best hitters. I would have sympathy, only they are evil, and deserve no better than woe. The Padres and Rockies stink, and the Diamondbacks are a fairly good but not very good team. They could be improved by trades, or by Justin Upton going nuts, so I don’t count them out. But they’re really the competition, and it sure looks to me like (barring injury to a starting pitcher, again) the Giants are a better team.
In other words, it’s a pretty good team. Not too stinky. Potentially quite good. I have hopes of a division title, possibly more than 90 wins. And, of course, if they do make the playoffs, anything could happen. Anything at all.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,