Wow! First-half awards time already? Roll out the red carpet. In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing a button-up, white dress shirt made especially for me by Cambridge Classics. Now, you can’t just run out and by this off the rack – possibly because Mervyn’s is out of business, but that’s not the point. It’s awards day, so I had to dress my best.
Without further ado:
Best surprising performance in a starting role
The first instinct is to flip a coin. Sometimes I’m all for Aubrey Huff, others I’m sure it’s Andres Torres. Both were expected to be non-vital parts of the team, and both are a huge reason the Giants are less than five games back at the break.
If you write a quick newspaper headline-style description of Huff’s season, though, you get something like this: "Former 30-homer guy rediscovers his stroke after a miserable season." With Torres, you get something like this: "Player found in the recycling bin of the minor leagues turns into vintage Kenny Lofton with better defense and more power." Huff has picked up a couple of MVP votes in his time. Torres takes this one pretty handily.
Worst surprising performance in a starting role
Pablo. Oh, Pablo. The Giants need another hitter at the trade deadline, the mob yells. I agree, and I hope that hitter is Pablo Sandoval. His BABIP was high last year, but I didn’t care. Look at the solid contact he makes on those pitches out of the zone! He doesn’t have a hole in his swing!
Whoops. Turns out his swing has a couple of holes – above the letters, low and away, high and away, low and in, and high and in. Also, right down the middle. It’s been a rough stretch, but it’s worth noting that his BABIP has gone waaaaay away (.289) from its previous heights. I think he’ll turn it around a bit in the second half, but I don’t think he’ll ever be as good from the right side as he was last year.
Most surprising thing in the history of surprises
The Giants traded Bengie Molina because Bruce Bochy wouldn’t start Buster Posey at catcher. It’s just…sublime. Really, it’s kind of a big deal to change different-colored horses midstream when you’re leading them to water that they don’t want to drink. That is, most teams don’t remove the variable of a starting catcher from an equation that’s producing a pretty good pitching staff.
Of course, Sabean now wonders if the pitching staff was so comfortable with Bengie that it actually had a negative effect. Right. Theories are always best when they’re developed after they’re needed and when they’re unable to be proven. That’s always been my personal motto. You can borrow it if you’d like.
Most overblown storyline of the season so far
The Mystery of Lincecum’s Missing Velocity. His average fastball last year was 92.4 MPH. It’s at 91.5 this year. I’d like to see it trending in the other direction, but I’m not going to freak about the missing mile just yet, especially when his fastball velocity is on an upward tick recently.
Rookie of the First-Half of the Year
And don't you forget it.
Best game of the first half
April 9th against the Braves. A late-inning comeback, with clutch hits from both Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand? It’s even more spectacular in retrospect.
Worst game of the first half
One hit from the opposing team, and the Giants still lose. I still want to punch windows out when I look at that box score.
Comment starter: Make up some awards of your own. Some ideas to get you started: "Best Giants Blog," "Best Giants Blog Written By a Guy Whose Name Rhymes with ‘Brant,’" and "Best Site Named McCovey Chronicles."