By John Shea @real_johnshea on August 19, 2014
The San Francisco Giants remain in contention despite struggling to score runs and ultimately win games over the better part of the past two-plus months. The Giants are just 23-37 since June 9 but remain in relatively good standing in the NL. San Francisco is 3.5 games behind the L.A. Dodgers in the NL West and currently leads the race for the second Wild Card spot. For the Giants to make the playoffs, they need to overcome five glaring issues.
Rookie second baseman Joe Panik has been one of the Giants' most productive hitters since the trade deadline, recording a gaudy .383 batting average with 22 total bases and six runs scored. His .450 BAbip is one of the best figures in baseball during the dog days of August. Panik suffered a dislocated pinky finger on his glove hand while sliding into second base on Sunday and is listed as day-to-day. The Giants need him healthy to contend.
The 2014 MLB campaign has been brutally frustrating for first baseman Brandon Belt, who has endured three stints on the DL and continues to battle post-concussion symptoms after getting hit in the head with a throw in pre-game fielding practice after the All-Star Break in Miami. The Giants need their best hitters on the field in order to surge into the postseason. Belt's lingering uncertainty over whether or not he can play is discouraging.
"The Freak" was eerily dominant in a stretch of four starts from June 25 to July 11, recording a microscopic 0.30 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched. Since then, Lincecum has struggled on a massive level, recording just one win in seven tries while pitching seven complete innings once. The Giants need Lincecum to at least give them a chance to win every time he takes the ball in order to maximize their chances of earning a postseason bid.
The Giants' franchise player was seemingly impossible to get out in June. He recorded a .362 average that month with 12 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs. It was his best month since registering a whopping 1.062 OPS with five home runs in June of 2013. Posey hasn't produced at a level anywhere near that ever since. His .385 second-half average in 2012 fueled the Giants' World Series run. Posey needs to produce at a high level for the Giants to contend.
The Giants have been atrocious at AT&T Park since winning 22 of their first 31 home games. San Francisco has witnessed some ugly baseball since then. The Giants recently won back-to-back home games for the first time since June 12. They've won just 10 of 33 games at their waterfront ballpark since June 9, appearing completely incapable of succeeding in the playoffs in the process. The Giants need to take advantage of regular sellout crowds.
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