First Half Surprises: San Francisco Giants

Sergio ValdezContributor IIJuly 11, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 21:  Randy Winn #2 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates with Aaron Rowand #33 after scoring in the third inning against the Texas Rangers during a Major League Baseball game on June 21, 2009 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

 We have almost reached the midway point of the 2009 MLB season and there have been many surprises as well as disappiontments. At this point the San Francisco Giants have been really surprised some by being competitive this year. At this point last year the Giants owned a 39-51 record and were only 6 games behinf first in a mediocre NL west, on route to a 72-90 finish. So far they are still behind the first place Dodgers by 7 games. Though they have had to play catch up with the Dodgers, who own the best record in baseball to this point, they still lead the wildcard. The Giants are where they are mainly because of their pitching. Last years Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain anchor the rotation while Barry Zito and Randy Johnson are their solid middle rotation starters. Jonathon Sanchez fills in the 5th slot in the rotaton. While pitching has been their strength, they have also had a couple of players contribute with their bats. One of the Giants flaws is the offense. Their biggest threat was their catcher Bengie Molina who is already 35 years old, but some players have come up and helped the Giants offensivly. One of those plyers is the 2nd year player Pablo Sandoval. Last year he had a good rookie season batting .345 with 3 homers and 24 runs batted in. This year he has carried the Giants offense hitting .328 with 13 home-runs and drivin g in 50 runs. He has a .561 SLG%, which is 7th in the NL, and a .940 OPS(10th in the NL) His breakout year almost got him into his first all-star game, but he justed missed getting into the festivities in St. Louis. The Giants repesentitives in the all-star game are Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. With Molina ans Sandoval their big bats in the middle of their line-up, they also have Aaron Rowand who has put up decent numbers, and their lead-off hitter Randy Winn, who has scored 43 runs despite a .321 OBP. While their offense isn't very strong, their pitching certianly is very impressive. Giants young star, Tim Lincecum, has put up Tremendous numbers again heading into the break. To this point he is 10-2 with a 2.33 ERA. He also has struck out 149 batters in 127.2 innings, and has a WHIP of 1.050. He has been the ace of the Giants staff the last year and a half and will be a vital player during the second hlf for the Giants. Matt Cain is another rising star who has put up great numbrs heading into the break. Cain is 10-2 with a ERA of 2.42. He has struck out 93 batters in 115.1, but has had control problems at times walking 46 batters. He still has been a great boost for a very strong Giants rotation that also includes future HOF Randy Johnson. Johnson has recently been placed on the DL, but before his injury he would win his 300th game. He had won 8 games, but had a 4.81 ERA. Even with his numbers no where near what they used to be, he still has been a decent pick-up for the Giants this year. Two years ago the Giants signed Barry Zito to the biggest contract for a pitcher(at the time) in MLB history. He had a mediocre first year in San Francisco and in his second year was his worst year of his career. This year he has had a decent year keeping the Giants in close ballgames. Ypungster Jonathon Sanchez has struggled at times this season, but was phenominal his last start, no-hitting the San Diego Padres. Juan Uribe's error, ruined his shot at a perfect game, but still a great performence. The second half of this season starts this thursday after the all-star break and it looks like the Giants are going to make a run at the playoffs this year the way they have played so far this year. The first half is at it's end and now it's time for teams to kick up their game for the stretch run it the second half.