Think back to the Josh Collmenter game, in which the Giants lost, 9-0, and they were almost outhit by Collmenter. Brandon Belt was hitting .077. Brandon Crawford was hitting .154. Buster Posey was hitting like a souped-up Kirt Manwaring. If not for Norichika Aoki and Angel Pagan, everyone in the lineup would have been in the middle of a miserable slump. It looked like the Giants weren't just going to have a tough time pitching, which we might have expected, but also a tough time hitting.
Cut to the present. And, uh, forget about Wednesday's game for a minute. The Giants are actually hitting like a normal team. The Giants might actually be better than a normal team, which was one of the ways they were supposed to have a chance in 2015.
With the help of Panik and Belt enjoying mini-hot streaks, the Giants lineup is now almost completely filled with above-average players, according to adjusted OPS.
Yes, well, the point isn't to single anyone out, but rather to marvel that the Giants look like they might have a good lineup after all. If you're not wild about adjusted OPS, you can use wRC+ and get the same conclusion.
The first caveat is that Justin Maxwell is likely to finish the season below that 100 line of average in either category. That's not a problem, though, considering that Hunter Pence still exists and is coming back soon, so very soon. The second caveat is that Casey McGehee is bad, so very bad. This is a concern, but either he'll get better, or he'll be replaced. The grumbling isn't just in the stands.
Let's separate these players into categories.
Likely to get better
Justin Maxwell (by virtue of morphing into Hunter Pence)
There's room for improvement, here. Posey is freaky streaky, and he usually melts minds and hearts in the second half, for whatever reason. He can get better. So can Belt, who finally isn't swinging at every backfoot slider and breaking ball like a dingus, Even if Maxwell started the season hot before regressing, Pence should still top a 104 OPS+.
And, yes, Casey McGehee should get better, even if only because it's almost impossible to get worse.
Likely to stay the same
Now that he's not hitting .400, this is the Aoki we should get used to. Before the season, ZiPS projected him at .278/.345/.358. He's at .289/.367/.377, so not too far off.
His projected picture value is right on target, too.
Still a Picture MVP candidate, every year.
Likely to decline a little
Pagan is a tricky one to place, considering that his OBP and SLG aren't that unusual for him, but he probably isn't going to hit .340 all danged season. And while I love Joe Panik -- say, have you ever heard about my Bill Mueller comparison? -- I'll take the under on his .430 slugging percentage, especially considering his home park.
Likely to decline a lot
One of the main points, really. The Giants have just one player who is freaking out while we wait for the other shoe to drop. Crawford should still hit a little, mind you, and he's still young enough to hope for improvement. It's not like this is Aaron Rowand in his final season. But while it would be dynamite if Crawford turned into some sort of low-average Troy Tulowitzki, I'll wait a while before predicting as much. The power will probably return to normal at some point.
As a lineup, there's some promise, here. We knew that going into the season, but the slow start scrambled our think holes. Even when you don't adjust the OPS for park at all, seven out of the eight starters are above the league average.
And Hunter Pence is coming back. Feels like we don't mention that enough.
It's going to be up to the pitching not to screw up, or at least do average things until the trading deadline. We know what 20 percent of the rotation is going to do, and the returns aren't that bad from Tim Hudson. They've been pretty good with Chris Heston and Tim Lincecum. Jake Peavy still has a chance, and I'll believe in Matt Cain until he's 48 and throwing underhand. Hey, this might not be so bad after all.
Now let's all kick back and wait for the Giants to get shut out for the next three days because of this dumb post.