The San Francisco Giants went into the All-Star break with a lead in the National League West. Although injuries have hurt the Giants throughout the season they have found a way to win on a consistent basis.
With that said the Giants can't expect their great pitching and timely hitting to work for the rest of the season. San Francisco needs certain guys to step up and have big second halves if the Giants want to get back to the World Series.
Here are five guys who need to step up for the Giants in the second half of the 2011 season.
For too many years now the Giants have lacked their ideal leadoff hitter. Last season Andres Torres showed flashes of the perfect leadoff man for San Francisco.
Torres’ batting average is way down this season at a measly .239 although he has drawn a lot of walks. The Giants need more out of their leadoff hitter and they are hoping that he can provide that spark over the rest of the season.
San Francisco wants Torres to be a catalyst for their offense by getting on base and putting pressure on pitchers with his ability to steal bases. The Giants will likely have a hard time maintaining their lead in the NL West if Torres doesn’t get better at the plate.
The Giants were able to make a magnificent run last postseason due to their outstanding pitching and timely hitting. The starting pitching for San Francisco got most of the attention but the relievers were able to continue what they started.
Jeremy Affeldt was dominant in the late innings of games last season for the Giants but has been quiet in 2011. Affeldt has put up decent numbers but not show then same consistent control that he showed a season ago.
Fortunately the Giants have plenty of capable arms in the pen but the left-hander Affeldt is a key piece to their depth.
After a terrible 2010 campaign Pablo Sandoval has bounced back to have a solid 2011 season thus far. The slimmed down Kung Fu Panda has been on a hitting tear of late which is exactly what the Giants needed in the middle of their order.
His .301 batting average is very good but Sandoval has failed to produce as many runs as San Francisco often needs. The Giants need him to stay healthy for the rest of the year and be a staple in the middle of their lineup if they are going to win the NL West.
In his first significant time in the big leagues last year Madison Bumgarner looked like a veteran. He pitched with great poise and control which allowed manager Bruce Bochy to trust him down the stretch.
This season Bumgarner has not had the same type of success on the mound, especially at home. San Francisco is considered to be a pitchers ball park but in 2011 Bumgarner is 0-5 with a 5.82 ERA.
With the ability of Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez unknown Bumgarner needs to be better to take some pressure of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Last season Cody Ross was a spark plug for the Giants on their way to a World Series victory. If San Francisco is going to get back to October they will need the same type of performance from Ross this time around.
Up to this point in the season Ross has not been able to put up very consistent numbers at the plate batting just .264. Ross has also lacked the power he displayed last year in the playoffs which the Giants desperately need in 2011.
Ross is a great presence in the club house and is reliable in the field but needs to knock in more runs if the Giants want to go deep into the playoffs again.