The San Francisco Giants are hanging around in the wide open NL West.
Only 1.5 games out of first (as of Wednesday), the Giants should get strong consideration for spots in the NL All-Star Game.
Many newcomers, like Pat Burrell (three homers since coming over from Tampa), Buster Posey, and Edgar Renteria (.326 in 26 games), have come on strong for the Giants as of late.
Due to their lack of a complete resume, most of these guys won’t be All-Star candidates. However, they are definitely key players for the Giants.
Here are five players who have held things together while waiting for these guys to come around. They should get All-Star consideration to represent the Giants in Los Angeles/Anaheim/wherever they play.
I’m not saying that these guys should definitely make it. In fact, some of them may be completely overlooked and not even considered. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve consideration (it's the MLB All-Star Game, what else is new?).
These are my top five candidates to make it to where the stars shine.
Huff is having a resurgent season for the Giants.
His .311 batting average is the highest it's been since 2003 with the Rays. His .401 OBP is the best of his career. His 12 home runs and 37 RBI are a major part of San Francisco’s improved power game, an area the pitching-first Giants have struggled in the past few seasons.
Huff is definitely having a very good season for the Giants.
He most likely won’t be considered with the loaded field the NL has at first base. The big names of Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, and Adrian Gonzalez will overshadow Huff. And that’s not to mention other candidates like Troy Glaus and Joey Votto.
But Huff should be recognized for his solid first half of the season, even if he won’t make the trip to the All-Star Game.
Uribe has been the glue for San Francisco’s defense in Edgar Renteria’s absence. He has played 46 games at shortstop (he also played some 2B and is now at 3B) and has been a valuable fielder for the pitching-oriented Giants.
But Uribe’s work in the batter’s box has been even more important to San Francisco’s contention for first place.
Uribe has 11 home runs and 43 RBI; strong production from a defensive-minded player. This is especially key for a Giants team that has struggled to find home run production the past few years.
He has played most of his time at shortstop so we will look at him there.
Hanley Ramirez is probably the favorite to grab the starting shortstop gig for the NL squad. Troy Tulowitzki, the other prime contender, is now on the DL. Why not Uribe?
His numbers are generally better than Jose Reyes' (same average, five more home runs and 14 more RBI; Reyes has Uribe on steals 18-1, though), and Jimmy Rollins has only played in 13 games. Uribe also has better numbers across the board compared to Stephen Drew and Ryan Theriot.
He will get overlooked because he doesn't have a flashy name. Perhaps voters should be taking a harder look in Uribe’s direction.
The Giants’ strength is pitching. It’s no surprise to see their pitchers make this list.
The surprise is Zito.
With a 7-3 record and 3.13 ERA, Zito is having his best season since his early days in Oakland. He will never be able to play up to that monstrous contract he signed in 2007, but at least he's producing this year.
If Zito did break through and make the All-Star team, it would be the first time since 2006 with Oakland.
The biggest problem for Zito is that he isn’t even the best pitching candidate on his team. However, he should certainly be recognized for his solid performance to date.
Cain doesn't have as good of a record as Zito, but his 2.16 ERA is lights-out (4th in the NL).
In terms of ERA, Cain is having the best season of his career, and he should be recognized for it.
A big reason for his low ERA is the two shutouts that Cain has tossed (three total complete games). Only nine players on the NL’s top 50 ERA list can even boast a single shutout, and only Roy Halladay’s three shutouts best Cain’s mark.
He is definitely a worthy candidate for the All-Star Game, and the only thing I see holding him back is his 6-5 record.
It doesn’t speak to the season he's had. Unfortunately sometimes that doesn’t matter when it comes to choosing All-Stars.
Another thing holding Cain and Zito back is that Lincecum is on the same team. I’m not saying that two pitchers from the same team won’t make it, I’m just saying it’s easy to get overlooked when that is the case.
Especially when that teammate is the two-time defending Cy Young winner.
Lincecum’s ERA and shutout numbers (2.86 and 0, respectively) are not as good as Cain’s. However, he has an 8-2 record (tied for fifth in the NL in wins), and he also leads the NL in strikeouts with 113.
By some standards, he isn’t having as good of a season as the past two, but that shouldn’t matter. He is San Francisco’s ace and his name recognition alone should ensure that he gets picked for the All-Star Game.
I also considered looking at Jonathan Sanchez for this list, but there is no way a team gets four pitchers on the All-Star team, so I gave some props to the hitters as well.
But there is no question that the Giants are a pitching team, and that’s why these guys top the list.
Who are your top five and how likely do you think these Giants are to represent San Francisco at the All-Star Game?