It could be worse. And, well, it was worse a few weeks ago.
The Giants did not quite nosedive, pulling up early and going 19-14 over the last five weeks of the first half. It positions them a somewhat stunning 5 ½ games out of the second wild card (but they also would have to pass a not-so-stunning eight teams to be in a playoff spot).
An offense that lacked a pulse for April and May and a rotation that struggled out of the gate are the culprits for a team is, in all likelihood, heading toward a July 31 sell-off. Let’s take a look at how each Giants unit has performed through 89 games:
The ERA sits at 4.99, the 23rd best in baseball. The unit has neither killed nor saved the Giants.
Fallen out is the Derek/Dereck combination, Holland and Rodriguez. Holland, after pitching well last season for the Giants, was pulled in May after a brutal four-game stretch, and he has not shown much out of the bullpen. Likewise for Rodriguez, a standout rookie a season ago, who let up 18 runs in 13 innings in a three-start span, leading to his (temporary) demotion.
Rising are Tyler Beede and Shaun Anderson, a pair of rookies who, while not overpowering, have shown real promise. Beede has the electric stuff to compensate for control issues and has looked better with each start. Anderson has looked more major league-ready, but his ceiling is in question.
Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz have been inconsistent, and soon to go is Madison Bumgarner. He has not skyrocketed his trade value with his first-half performance, but he’s done enough to convince teams he’s still a viable October option.
An inspired final few weeks of the season, led by newcomer Alex Dickerson, brought the Giants all the way up to 369 first-half runs … good for 27th in baseball. All the way up to a .230 average, still dead last. All the way up to 88 home runs, 27th, the Giants immune from the homer frenzy overtaking baseball.
It has been ugly, and most alarming has been the play of a core that is signed long term. Buster Posey’s OPS sits at .693, Brandon Crawford’s at .635 and Evan Longoria’s, even with a late-half rise, is at .752. None are going anywhere for a long while.
While getting little from their middle-of-the-order bats, the Giants have had a revolving door of fliers, none better than Dickerson (.362/.444/.787 in 16 games). Flashes from names like Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater have buoyed the offense, but not enough and likely too late.
The 3.90 era is sixth best in baseball, and ERA doesn’t measure how effective Will Smith has been (23-for-23 in saves). A core crew of Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta and Trevor Gott has made the Giants 18-9 in one-run games and provided quite a few trade chips.
San Francisco essentially has an A and B unit, as Holland, Rodriguez and a falling Mark Melancon have mostly appeared in games that are lost.
The Giants’ league-leading 154 pinch-hit at-bats speaks to a) the team’s value of platoon hitters and b) the team’s lack of bats who can’t be pinch-hit for. They’re batting .247, 10th best in baseball, led by a resurgent Pablo Sandoval, who’s slashing .359/.390/.667 with two homers in 39 pinch-hit at-bats.
Front office/management: C
Perhaps an I for Incomplete would be more fair. The front office ultimately will be judged by how it does at the trade deadline, despite Farhan Zaidi posturing that the Giants are not shoo-in sellers.
Zaidi has tried to uncover every rock, some more fruitful than others (Dickerson and Gott come to mind). And while the wringing-out of any available talent has brought future hopes, it also hasn’t saved this season, and Bruce Bochy will go out on a sour note.