At the halfway point in the season, there is one major issue the San Francisco Giants are facing.
It's not Tim Lincecum's struggles. It's not a lack of clutch hitting. It's not a lack of power. Yes, all of these are contributing to this issue, but it's not any one of those things individually.
The Giants haven't shown the ability to beat the better teams in baseball.
Eighty-two games into the 2012 season, the Giants have a record of 30 wins and 22 losses against teams which are under .500.
However, they stand at just .500 themselves, 15-15, against teams with winning records.
And in many of those games, like the first two games in the current series against the Washington Nationals, they have been outscored by good margins.
So not only are they losing many of their games against winning teams, but in a good number of those games, they don't even show up.
This is not a good formula for returning to the World Series, two years removed from winning it all.
Of course, to win your division and make the postseason, you need to beat the bad teams. The Giants have been doing that.
But you also need to do well against the better teams.
Not only do you need some of those games to go to the playoffs, but you need to build the confidence that you can beat the better teams once you get there.
Halfway through the year, it's hard to tell which Giants team this is. Is it the team that obliterated the Los Angeles Dodgers last week at AT&T Park, or is it the team that is looking like the Chicago Cubs (or the Bad News Bears) against Washington?
Granted the current Dodger team isn't one that will scare anybody. And the Nats are playing great baseball and having a fine year.
But in order for the Giants to have any kind of a serious shot at going deep into the postseason, they need to play much better ball against teams like the Nats, the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates (whom they draw next) and every other top team.
If they don't and they somehow make it to the postseason, it could be a very early exit.
But with 80 more games to play a lot can change—for better or worse.