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Relative to Expectations....

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The preseason question that everyone was asking was along the lines of this:

Okay, so if the team is so terrible, what would make this a successful season?

The answer, invariably, would be something like this:

One, just one, position player proving that he can hit at the major league level. Health and improvement out of the young pitchers. The veterans playing well enough to be traded at the deadline. A return of the Crazy Crab. Some good prospect news. Barry Zito earning 1/6th of his contract.

Other than the indefatigable Lou Seal and the non-indefatigableness of Barry Zito, it’s amazing at how much of a success this season has been in Theoryland. Not one, but two position players have looked like they deserve to be a part of the rebuilding process. Two of the wretched veterans from last season, Rich Aurilia and Ray Durham, look like players that other teams would actually want. Tim Lincecum is already one of the best pitchers in the game, Jonathan Sanchez has been very impressive, and, Matt Cain kept the gains in his strikeout rate from the end of 2007. Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson are establishing themselves as two of the best pitching prospects in the game.

And yet, this team still makes me want to punch myself in the face. Note to self: Modest expectations don’t make a difference to the face-punching quotient.

The grades below, though, are relative to preseason expectations. The Giants don’t get an A+ for their first basemen compared to the rest of the league or division. Not even close. But considering that the Giants didn’t appear to have anyone in the organization who could hit enough to be a first baseman for the St. Paul Saints, the mini-emergence of Bowker and the resurgence of Aurilia might be the most amazing things to happen to the team this season.

Today, the position players. Tomorrow, the pitchers. Wednesday, the world.

 

Catcher

Molina, on average, has been exactly what we expected: a guy who could help a good team by hitting a little bit from the catcher’s position. As a clean-up hitter, he’s one of the most unfortunate bullet points on Brian Sabean’s resume. The hot start was replaced with a brutal slump, otherwise this grade would have been higher.

Grade: C

1B

See above for a more detailed explanation, but Bowker’s success is impressive because he adjusted to the league’s initial adjustment to him. If he enters 2009 as the starting first baseman, I’ll be happy. That isn’t something I expected to say about anyone in the organization as of February.

Grade: A+

2B

Durham bounced back amazingly, but the grade is dropped because of Kevin Frandsen’s injury and Eugenio Velez’s eugeniosity. This was one position that I would hoping would be a non-issue for 2009, and that’s not the case.

Grade: B-

SS

Hey, if there are imaginary numbers, are there imaginary letters that scientists can develop to give a grade for the shortstops? The Giants received an ampersand/(f-) offensive performance from two of their shortstops, and that's being extremely generous. No one expected any offense from the shortstop position, but the Mendoza Line would have been nice. Emmanuel Burriss and the collective defensive performance makes it possible to forego the controversy and give a real letter for a grade.

Grade: F+

3B

I forgot Jose Castillo existed when I posted this an hour ago. I guess that's better than him being unspeakably awful, which is what I expected from third this year.

Grade: Ehhhh +

OF

Fred Lewis has been one of the team’s best offensive players, Aaron Rowand has been productive (though streaky), and Randy Winn is Randy Winn is Randy Winn. According to the stats, they’ve been the best defensive troika in the league to this point. It all adds up to a solid ‘B+’, but the fact that Lewis is getting the at-bats in the first place makes the grade…

Grade: A-

 

Comment starter: So, like, how stupid are these grades? Oh, yeah? Then put your money where your fingers are, and give out your own grades, smart guy.