The San Francisco Giants accumulated a 13-16 record in August. If they were in the playoff race, this would be highly disappointing.
However, all things considered, the Giants actually took some promising steps forward in what has been a season to forget.
Still, August was another month of overwhelming mediocrity. Here is a general grade report for the Giants in the closing days of summer.
The Giants outfield has not exactly impressed this season. Although an expected weakness, the devastating injury to center fielder Angel Pagan only served to exacerbate the problem this season. Neither Gregor Blanco or Andres Torres provided necessary pop as alternating left fielders, and midseason acquisition Jeff Francoeur was demoted to the minors on August 20th.
The one bright spot? Right fielder Hunter Pence. In the month of August, Pence was second to only the red-hot Brandon Belt in terms of batting average. Pence hit .306, raising his season batting average to a solid .284.
Actually, there were two bright spots for the Giants outfield. The second: Center fielder Angel Pagan was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on August 30th. His return gives the outfield some much-needed extra credit, allowing them a passing grade.
First baseman Brandon Belt needed his back up against the wall to finally breakout. Belt has been explosive at the plate in recent weeks, slugging an impressive .350 in the month of August.
Belt alone raises the infield's average nearly a full letter grade, as the other infield mainstays largely struggled at the plate in August. Second baseman Marco Scutaro slumped, batting .229.
His partner in the middle of the infield, shortstop Brandon Crawford, similarly struggled. Crawford posted a subpar .224 batting average in August. He also struck out 18 times in 98 at-bats.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval lost his stride a little in August, hitting a below-average .255, despite contributing 18 RBIs. Sandoval has not been the picture of consistency, along with the majority of the Giants lineup this season.
Throughout August, Giants pitchers posted a relatively average 4.09 ERA, which nearly matches their 4.08 ERA on the season.
A familiar face returned to the Giants starting rotation after months of absence: Ryan Vogelsong was a welcome re-addition to the Giants rotation.
Prior to Vogelsong's August 9th return, the right-hander faltered on the mound. Before his May 20th injury, Vogelsong's ERA sat at a dismal 7.19. In August, Vogelsong rebounded, posting a 2.93 ERA: low enough to lead all Giants starting pitchers.
It's more mechanical... Early in the season, I couldn't find anything that was comfortable. I was just out there battling through innings, but I worked on some things with Gardy and Rags (pitching coaches Mark Gardner and Dave Righetti), and I've just been able to execute them in the game.
Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner also pulled their weight in August. All three allowed fewer than four runs per nine innings (3.06, 3.62, and 3.47 respectively), which represents a good sign moving forward with the three remaining in the rotation.
However, there is a drop-off in performance at the bottom of the rotation. Left-hander Barry Zito will potentially end his Giants career with a sour taste in his mouth, as he has been unable to find his groove throughout the 2013 season—let alone merely the month of August.
Going into next season, the Giants must find a fifth man to anchor the rotation, or possibly a middle-of-the-rotation type to bolster the other mainstays.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Giants' resident teacher's pet: Buster Posey. Posey leads the team with a .309 average, as well as a .377 OBP.
Posey maintained his performance into August. In the last month of the summer, Posey batted .284.
The one criticism? His power at the plate took a slight downturn: He hit no home runs and only two doubles. Still, the one at the top of the class is always nit-picked more than the rest.
With the starting pitching on the upswing, the roles have reversed for the Giants going into the final stretch of the season. The offense needs to start picking up the slack, and standouts such as Posey, Sandoval, Pence and Belt must provide consistent performance at the plate.
The starting rotation is finally starting to settle down, and for Lincecum, it is just in time due to his pending free-agency. Still, there remain concerns moving forward toward not only the rest of the season, but the overall future of the franchise.
Here's hoping for more improvement and consistency as the 2013 season reaches its end.