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Predictions for the second half

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All of these things will come true unless none of them do.

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Giants finished the first half where we expected them to. They’re 41-48 and last in the NL West. Where they’ve wound up hasn’t been surprising, but we couldn’t have predicted how they’ve gotten here. Mostly, it’s been personnel changes. The outfield has completely turned over from Opening Day while Derek Holland and Dereck Rodríguez have worked themselves out of the rotation. There have been some unexpected performances as well, and some of them have been the good kind of unexpected. Trevor Gott has been great, his poor luck in June notwithstanding. Kevin Pillar is tied for the team lead in home runs, and Stephen Vogt is outhitting Buster Posey.

Now that we’re half of the way through the season, things should be easier to predict. Below, I have five predictions for the second half that will all certainly happen*

*None of these things will happen, and I will look like a ding dong come seasons end.

Buster Posey will return to form

In a season riddled with disappointments, Buster Posey turning in his first blow average season might be the worst. Posey started out the year slowly, but he looked like he was turning things around when the Giants went on the road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. It was also around that time that Posey suffered a concussion and all his progress was erased.

Posey has entered the All-Star break red hot though. In his last seven games, Posey went 11-for-25 with just two strikeouts. One of his doubles was very nearly an opposite field homer, and the power to the right field has been one of the most encouraging things about his season. It’s also one of the major reasons why Buster Posey is going to look a lot more like Buster Posey in the second half.

This is the outfield

The Giants have had 12 different players appear in the outfield for them this year. That ties them with the Marlins for the most outfielders used, and as a rule, being tied with the Marlins for anything is bad news. But this current configuration is going to stick. Alex Dickerson, Kevin Pillar, Austin Slater, Mike Yastrzemski, and Tyler Austin will be the outfield the rest of the way. At some point, Steven Duggar will return, and there will be some minor shuffling as guys get hurt or need rest, but nobody is getting DFA’d.

The journey to find the outfield has been long and filled with failures, but the Giants have finally found something that works.

Derek Holland will save his season

Derek Holland’s season has been forgettable thus far. He has a 5.83 ERA coming into the break, and his FIP of 5.95 suggests that’s not far off. Holland is giving up a career-high 2.1 HR per nine innings and his command hasn’t been nearly as fine. His zone percentage (percentage of pitches thrown within the strike zone) has fallen five percentage points from where it was last year and as such, he’s walking more batters.

The good news is that he’s striking out the same amount of batters and getting more swings and misses than ever. He’s also been perfectly fine since the beginning of June. He has a 3.24 ERA since June 4 and the walks and homers have been less of an issue. Sure, it’s a small sample, but so were the two months when he was awful. For the rest of his time in a Giants uniform he’s been pretty okay to good and he’ll remain that way for the rest of 2019.

Evan Longoria will lead the hitters in WAR

It’s not really a hot take to just look at who is leading the team in a category and say that he’ll continue to lead it for the rest of the season, but Longoria has been the most valuable hitter on the Giants and I see no reason why he should stop. Longoria and Pablo Sandoval are tied for the team lead in bWAR, but Longoria has a narrow lead in fWAR and a commanding lead in WARP.

Much of that has been defense which makes him a safe bet, but the bat has looked much better lately. He’s tied with Pillar for the team lead in homers at 12 and he has a DRC+ of 100 and a wRC+ of 98 which makes him a perfectly league average hitter. The Giants don’t have a lot of those!

The Giants will have a 20-homer hitter

Pillar and Longoria are both on pace for 21 homers. Pablo Sandoval is on pace for 20. Brandon Belt is on pace for 18. That’s four players with a legitimate chance to reach an arbitrary milestone that has vexed the Giants for half a decade.

But that’s not all. Those paces are based on games played. If we look at these on a per plate appearances basis, we can add a few other candidates. Alex Dickerson has hit 4 homers through his first 54 plate appearances, and if he ends the year with 250 plate appearances, that would put him at 19. Austin Slater has two homers through 16 plate appearances and if he ends with 200, that would put him on a 25-homer pace.

It’ll be hard to say goodbye to Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith after they’re bundled together and sent to *spins wheel* the Cubs for *rolls dice* Ian Happ and *throws dart* Brennen Davis, but there will a cornucopia of dingers of dingers on the way to help ease the pain.