Tonight, when the Giants take on the Padres in San Diego, it will mark the unofficial start to the second half of the season. And at the halfway mark, it looks like the Giants are up for keeping the longest-running joke in sports going the even-numbered season voodoo. By now, we all know the drill: win the World Series in 2010, fail to make the playoffs in 2011. Win the World Series in 2012, fail to make the playoffs in 2013. Win the World Series in 2014, fail to make the playoffs in 2015. We’re now in 2016 and so of course that means our favorite band of merry pranksters are sitting at 57-33, the best record in all of baseball. Of course.
So how have they been getting it done this time? With some old faces, some new faces, and some really new faces. We all know and love Buster and Madison and Matt and Angel and Brandon and Brandon and Hunter (not that one, the other one). We’ve gotten to know Panic and Duffy. And now we’re holding hands with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzjia and Denard Span and Mac Williamson and Albert Suarez and Ramiro Pena and Kelby Tomlinson and Ehire Adrianza. How manager Bruce Bochy does it, I’ll never know.
For the past decade or so, the Giants identity has revolved around its pitching staff. They started this run with Timmy and Matt and Madison. Today, it’s Madison and Johnny and Jeff. Madison, He-Of-The-Greatest-World-Series-In-History, remains his bad self with a 10-4 record, second-lowest 1.94 ERA, second-best WAR, third-most strikeouts, and second-most innings pitched. Johnny Cueto, though, is giving Madison a run for his money with a second-best 13-1 record, third-lowest 2.47 ERA, sixth-best WAR, and league-most innings pitched. Basically, when those two guys are pitching, the Giants are winning. Overshadowed a bit by those two has been Jeff Samardzija, who many teams would love to have as their ace. Peavy and Cain have had a rougher go of things, especially in the early part of the season. Peavy has stabilized, though, while Matt has been out for most of this season with injury. As for the bullpen, yeah, it could use some work.
The Giants offense has been surprisingly existent. When Hunter Pence, the Giants most potent offensive player, went down with injury six weeks ago, we all knew the Giants inevitable June Swoon had arrived on schedule. Only, it didn’t. The Giants are currently in the top-5 in the NL in runs, hits, batting average, and on-base percentage. Brandon Belt, in particular, has stood tall in the batter’s box this is the season that’s been promised from Brandon since he broke into the league. He leads the team in hits and a .302 batting average and and is second in HRs and RBI. Our Baby Giraffe is all growed up. Not to be outdone, our other Brandon, Crawford, has also made huge strides at the plate. He leads the team with 61 RBI and is tied with Buster for second-most hits on the team. Blessed be the Brandons.
So here we are with our boys atop the NL West, the National League, and all of Major League Baseball. Most importantly, the Giants are 6.5 games up on the Dodgers. That’s a beautiful thing. Of course, this whole thing can be turned upside down by the end of the month, but we’ll worry about that then. For now, Giants fans, as we approach the thick part of summer and start the second half of the season in first-place of everything, take a sip of your Anchor Steam and revel in the fact that all of the baseball world hates our guts and cringe at the thought of another juju-filled autumn with 29 other teams being the punchline of a Giant joke.