By John Shea @real_johnshea on June 17, 2014
The major league-leading San Francisco Giants have struggled over the past week, notching just one win in seven tries. That doesn't change the fact that San Francisco is the best team in baseball near the season's halfway point. It also doesn't detract from certain players' All-Star-caliber performances during the first half. The Giants are perennial contenders in part because of these five players who belong on the NL All-Star Team.
The Giants' slick-fielding shortstop is one of the most underappreciated players in the game. Crawford's numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, but his collective performance as an outstanding defender and clutch hitter with RISP makes him worthy of earning an All-Star bid as a reserve. The fourth-year infielder owns the seventh-most RBI among all players at his position (35) while registering an .864 OPS with two outs and RISP.
After a rocky start, Bumgarner has posted Cy Young-caliber numbers, earning Pitcher of the Month honors in May. The Giants ace owns an 8-4 record with a solid 2.85 ERA in 94.2 innings of work over 15 starts. He's registered 104 strikeouts, averaging a career-high 9.9 K/9. He's on pace to win a career-best 17 games in 2014 and continues to give the Giants a chance to win each time he starts. He's one of the best southpaws in all of baseball.
The Giants' energetic leadoff hitter is a proven difference-maker for the orange and black. San Francisco plummeted out of contention in the wake of Pagan's season-crippling hamstring injury last May. He's been a catalyst at the top of the order in 2014, recording a .356 OBP with 18 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs with 11 stolen bases. Pagan also supplies the Giants with outstanding outfield defense, aiding pitchers' ERAs.
Reliever Jean Machi is a name that die-hard fans need to become familiar with, especially because he boasts an outside chance of winning the 2014 NL Cy Young Award. Machi has been the best right-handed middle reliever in all of baseball this season. He owns a ridiculous 0.29 ERA, allowing one run in 31.0 innings pitched. He's registered a perfect 5-0 record and seldom allows hitters to reach base (0.742 WHIP).
After suffering a gruesome season-ending ankle injury in 2013, Hudson was seemingly bound for retirement. The 38-year-old veteran has been at his best in a new uniform, posting the lowest ERA among all qualified starters in baseball (1.81). He also flaunts the best win percentage among all starting pitchers (.778), and is deserving of the opportunity to take the ball in the first inning for the NL in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game because of it.
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