San Francisco Giants: First-Half Report Card 2014
The San Francisco Giants are in solid position to at least claim a playoff spot down the stretch as MLB's first half comes to a close. Despite dropping 22 of their final 32 games before the All-Star break, the Giants are just one game back of the L.A. Dodgers in the NL West. San Francisco's pitching staff has been mostly stellar all season, but their inability to score runs has fueled a downward spiral that dissolved a 9.5-game division lead.
The Giants' offense has been abysmal over the final five weeks of the first half. San Francisco has been shutout a whopping five times over their last 13 games. For much of the first half, the Giants were touted as the most improved offense in baseball but were unable to sustain a high runs-per-game average through mid-July. The Giants rank 23rd in total runs scored, averaging a meager 3.93 runs per contest, and 26th in OBP (.303). Grade: D+
The Giants are a more effective defensive ball club than they were in 2013 but aren't as solid in the field as they'd ideally like to be. San Francisco ranks seventh in team fielding percentage (.984) among National League clubs. They've committed a total of 60 errors, a figure that ranks 11th in the NL. "The Giants Way" is rooted in solid defense and shutdown pitching, although they remain an average fielding team midway through 2014. Grade: C
The Giants' starting rotation has been an anchor for the entire 2014 season. Tim Lincecum has seemingly reinvented himself (9-5, 3.66 ERA) whereas Tim Hudson has proven to be a valuable addition (7-6, 2.87 ERA). The Giants have struggled to provide sufficient support for their starters, though. Ryan Vogelsong has posted a solid 2.92 ERA over his last four starts, but he hasn't received as much as one run of support. Grade: B+
The Giants' bullpen has been rock solid for most of the 2014 season, registering a collective 2.82 ERA to rank fourth in all of baseball. Santiago Casilla is quietly having an All-Star caliber season, recording a 1.02 ERA with 10 holds and four saves in 35.1 innings of work. Sergio Romo (4.86 ERA) has battled inconsistency, but he has managed to log 22 saves. Overall, the Giants' bullpen has been a bright spot. Grade: A-
Bruce Bochy is one of the best managers in the game. He owns the most wins of any other active skipper (1,576), ranking 20th on the all-time list, and is a future Hall-of-Fame candidate. Giants coaches do an excellent job of giving the club a high percentage chance to win on any given day. Pitching coach Dave Righetti is widely regarded as one of the best at his job, aiding the Giants' seventh ranked staff. Grade: A