San Francisco Giants' Midseason Report: 5 Surprises and 5 Disappointments
The Giants are in great position to make the playoffs with a one-game lead over the Dodgers at the midway point of the regular season. There have been some big surprises and disappointments from the first half, ranging from Melky Cabrera's standout season to Barry Zito's resurgence. The biggest disappointments include Tim Lincecum's disastrous start and Brian Wilson's early season-ending injury.
The Giants were expecting Melky to be a solid professional hitter in their lineup, but considering his past performance there is no way they could have expected such a breakout year. Before this season, Cabrera only had one season where he hit above .300 and he even became a backup in 2010 when he was with the Braves.
Cabrera has been the best hitter in the Giants' lineup, hitting .352 en route to his first All-Star Game appearance. The Melk Man also leads the team 162 total bases; Angel Pagan is a distant second with 124.
Blanco was signed as a minor league free agent before spring training and had to play well in the spring to even make the team. After the first few weeks of the season, Blanco took over as the everyday right fielder.
Even though he has been struggling recently (his average has dropped to .249), he still has a solid OBP of .337 and 14 stolen bases. Blanco's OBP was only .277 in June, which is far below his May OBP of .427, but he's also played outstanding defense all season, including a diving catch that contributed to Matt Cain's perfect game.
Theriot was signed as a minor league free agent before spring training and barely beat out Mike Fontenot for the final infield roster spot. He got off to a slow start, batting .179 prior to going on the DL, but since returning, his average has shot up to .272.
Theriot only had one multi-hit game before going on the DL. He has 12 multi-hit games since and has helped the Giants forget about Freddy Sanchez.
Coming out of spring training, there were many Giants fans who wanted the Giants to cut Zito and just eat his contract. Coming into this year, Barry Zito was 49-67 as a Giant and never finished a season with an ERA below 4.00.
But after a rough spring (had an ERA of 7.91 a WHIP of 2.28), Zito surprised everyone and got the Giants their first win of the season, pitching a complete game shutout against the Rockies (his first in a Giants uniform).
Zito is just 6-6, but he has an impressive ERA of 3.84 and has only had a few bad outings.
After Buster Posey's severe collision at home plate with Scott Cousins, the health of his ankle was a big question mark going into the season.
Posey has put to rest any lingering doubts about his health this season, playing 55 games behind the plate, 10 games at first base and three games at DH. Posey's All-Star production (.303, 10 home runs, 42 RBI) isn't surprising—but his ability to come back from a brutal injury is simply amazing.
Lincecum has been a huge disappointment so far. The two-time Cy Young winner was expected to be the Giant's ace and currently has a 3-8 record to go along with a 5.60 ERA. I expect Tim to have a good second half as he has started to show some positive signs (he's struck out 18 batters and hasn't allowed a run in the last 15 innings).
The biggest problem with Lincecum this season has been his command. He's allowed 4.7 walks per nine innings this year, which is much higher than his career average of 3.4 BB/9. Still, he has shown good stuff. His SO/9 is actually higher this year (9.9) than it was last season (9.1).
Aubrey Huff has had a really rough year so far. He got off to a bad start and was never able to get going. He is hitting .155 with only one homer in limited playing time. Huff also took some time off due to an anxiety disorder and is currently sitting on the DL with a knee injury.
After the first month of the season, Huff was used as a bench player, but wasn't effective in that role either.
The Giants could use some power off the bench. However, if Huff doesn't show positive signs once he returns, they might need to bring a hitter up from Fresno or make a trade for a hitter.
Freddy Sanchez dislocated his shoulder last year on a diving play and had to have a surgery in the offseason. Sanchez was expected to be with the team on Opening Day, but that hasn't happened.
Sanchez has been able to hit, but he has continued to have trouble throwing the ball across his body. He's also had numerous setbacks (such as back problems) that have prevented him from making it back to the team. If Sanchez makes it back this year that would be great, but at this point it seems highly unlikely. The Giants could use him in their lineup, as Sanchez is a career .297 hitter and is an above-average defensive second baseman.
Schierholtz had a good year last year (.278 BA, 9 HR 41 RBI) even though he missed the end of the season with a broken foot. He played excellent defense in right field and had a lot of clutch hits. He was expected to be the Giants' starting right fielder on Opening Day, but lost the job with a lousy spring training. Once Huff was out of the starting lineup, Schierholtz started playing again and even had six hits in a doubleheader against the Mets.
After that, he went into a big slump and Blanco took over as the everyday right fielder. Schierholtz hasn't been consistent at the plate this year, but he should see some more opportunities as the regular season continues to take its toll on the starters.
Brian Wilson was shut down briefly at the end of last year to preserve his arm. But Wilson (who had at least 36 saves in each of the last four years) still had a good season, and was expected to be ready by Opening Day.
In his second appearance of the year, Wilson had to come out of the game with pain in his elbow and it was later discovered that he needed Tommy John Surgery to repair a torn ligament in his elbow. Though Santiago Casilla has done a very nice job filling in for Wilson, the Giants fans still miss their bearded closer.