The San Francisco Giants enter play on Tuesday night with the second best record in the National League—sitting atop the National League West with a record of 45-35, 1.5 games ahead of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
It has been the pitching staff that has been largely responsible for the Giants' excellent first half of the season. The offense remains below average, as it has been every season since 2004—the final MVP season from former star slugger Barry Bonds.
The Giants' pitching staff ranks as the third best in baseball with a team ERA of 3.37. Their Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which removes factors outside of the pitcher's control such as team defense, is the second best in baseball.
Offensively, the Giants are 23rd in runs scored, 21st in OPS, 25th in slugging, 29th in home runs and 24th in walks. The lack of power and impatience in the batter's box has not been a recipe for offensive success.
On the bright side, the Giants don't strike out a lot—they are the sixth best in baseball at avoiding the whiff. That high contact approach has led to a .262 team batting average (10th best in baseball) and a .320 on-base percentage, which is 15th.
The Giants also have improved their team speed with the acquisitions of Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Melky Cabrera in the outfield. They rank third in baseball with 65 stolen bases.
Defensively, the Giants rank 21st in the FanGraphs metric Defensive Runs Saved, 15th in Ultimate Zone Rating and 27th in fielding percentage. However, in the Baseball Prospectus metric for defense (called Defensive Efficiency—which measures the percentage of balls put in play turned into outs by the defense), the Giants rank seventh with a conversion rate of 72 percent.
In sum, the Giants have had great pitching, a high-contact offense with speed—but without a lot of patience or power —and a defense that converts a high percentage of balls put in play into outs, despite a lot of errors.
What about the sum of the parts? Let's take a look at each of the 25 Giants players using the 2-8 grading scale that teams use. An eight is a Cy Young or MVP season, seven is an All-Star season, six is very good, five is average, four is below average, three is not very good and two is the Manny Burriss level of futility. (All of the stats in this article are courtesy of FanGraphs).