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The surprises and disappointments of the Giants’ first half

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The Giants aren’t having a good season. Who’s underperformed, other than almost everybody?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

While thinking of a way to start this post, I cut right to the point and published this one. That is the only Giants analysis you’ll need today. That’s the only one you’ll need in the future.

However, if you’re a completionist, this post is for you. It’s time to tally up the players who have exceeded expectations and the players who have fallen short. Quick, guess which list is bigger, well, you’re wrong. Because lists get longer, not bigger. Unless I just made that distinction up.

You know how this is going to go. We’re going to do it anyway.

Surpassed expectations

Buster Posey was awesome last year, but I had mentally factored in a bit of a decline for him. Instead, he’s been incredible, easily one of the brightest spots of the season.

After Posey, we have Kyle Crick, who has come out of nowhere to throw strikes in the bullpen. Austin Slater definitely makes this list, even though he’s broken now.

And after that we have ... oh come on you have to be k

Met expectations

I’m going to lump Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, and George Kontos in here because they have low ERAs (good) that are beating their much sketchier FIPs (less good). I’ll accept arguments that they’ve surpassed expectations, though.

Denard Span is hitting much better than expected, thanks to a recent surge, but his defense in center is dragging his overall value down (to the point that he has a 107 OPS+ and a negative WAR).

Joe Panik overcame a slow start to post a .738 OPS, and his career OPS is .744, so I think that what you see (good defense, line drives) is what you get.

Brandon Belt is having a typical Brandon Belt season, just with 40 points lopped off his batting average because of poopy luck with balls in play. I’m not going to ignore that completely, considering how aggressive teams are with shifts against him, which could factor into that BABIP. But I’m definitely going to mostly ignore it. He’s the same guy, which is good.

Ty Blach is better than his ERA, and you can tell that because even though he doesn’t strike anyone out, his FIP is nearly a half-run lower (4.06). He’s a perfectly fine fifth starter, and I still think there’s room for growth, too.

Jeff Samardzija could go in all three categories, which is hilarious and bizarre. He’s exceeded expectations (127 strikeouts and 14 walks in 118 innings, good gravy), met expectations (lots of innings, some of them imperfect, but helpful overall), and been a disappointment (that 4.58 ERA and all the dingers, mostly). I really do think the defense has hurt him, and I also think that he has a dinger problem, especially with the juiced ball, that goes beyond that.

Eduardo Nuñez was doing well before he was hurt, so he can’t be in the disappointment pile, but it’s not like he’s wildly exceeded expectations, either. He’s the player the Giants hoped they were getting, just hurt.

Nick Hundley has been a backup catcher with a little pop. That’s exactly what he was supposed to be.


Madison Bumgarner fell off a danged dirt bike.

Johnny Cueto hasn’t pitched well.

Matt Cain wasn’t supposed to be good, but I was hoping for at least serviceable. Instead he would have been the worst starting pitcher in the National League if it weren’t for ...

Matt Moore has been the worst starting pitcher in the NL.

Mark Melancon blew a few saves, and then he got hurt.

Derek Law started the first half as a dependable setup man and ended it in Sacramento.

Brandon Crawford forgot how to hit.

Hunter Pence forgot how to hit.

Gorkys Hernandez, Aaron Hill, Justin Ruggiano, Kelby Tomlinson, Mike Morse, Conor Gillaspie, Orlando Calixte, Drew Stubbs, and Chris Marrero have combined at various points in the season to form one of the worst bench units I’ve ever watched. The highest OPS of the above belongs to Tomlinson, with a .632 mark.

Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson were hurt, and they didn’t do anything when they were healthy, either.

Josh Osich and Steven Okert haven’t pitched nearly as well as I’d hoped, which means the Giants will have far more questions about their bullpen next year than they should have.

That’s the tally, then. Three players have exceeded expectations, and of those, one of them is out for the season, most likely. Ten players have met expectations, which sounds okay until you realize that most of them had super modest expectations.

Twenty-one players have disappointed, including five starting pitchers, most of the bullpen, the entire bench apart from the backup catcher, and two key position players.

The key to the Giants being better is to have those disappointing players play well. I keep repeating that, but I’ve run out of ways to say it. Give me the career averages (or at the very least, their last season) for all of those players, and I don’t know if the Giants are contending, but they certainly wouldn’t be chasing down the Phillies for the first-overall pick in next years draft.

This is indeed a disturbing universe, and it’s been a bummer of a first half. You didn’t need more words to prove that, but, uh, here. Have some more words.