Taking stock of the Giants' first half

July 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado's Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Giants were tested by injuries, a challenging travel schedule and a streaky offense in the first half, but they feel they’re in a good spot coming out of the All-Star break.

At 47-41, the Giants are 2 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West, giving them a 58.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs.

After taking some time to recharge, San Francisco will look to keep building momentum on Friday night, when it kicks off an 11-game, four-city road trip at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

“I think we’ve grinded a lot throughout the first half,” right-hander Logan Webb said. “I don’t think we really had a healthy team the entire time. I think when we had a fully healthy team, that’s kind of like when we went on that 10-game win streak. We know we’re a really good team, and we’re just going to keep grinding away until we get fully healthy. When that happens, the sky’s the limit. I think we all feel that in here. I think it’s a good feeling. I think we’re ready to get a little break and hopefully get some guys back soon and get back to it.”

What we learned in the first half
One of the biggest storylines so far has been the arrival of a promising class of rookies, most notably catcher Patrick Bailey, who is looking like the new heir apparent to Buster Posey.

Bailey has been a revelation since debuting with the Giants in May, batting .293/.324/.493 with five home runs and 26 RBIs over 40 games. San Francisco is 23-13 when Bailey starts behind the plate, the clearest indication of the impact he’s made in his short time in the Majors. While he’s provided a key boost with his bat, Bailey’s calling card remains his glove, as he’s posted a 38% caught stealing rate and quickly won over the trust of the pitching staff with his game-calling and framing skills.

Bailey’s emergence creates questions about former top prospect Joey Bart’s future with the organization, but the Giants believe there’s a scenario in which both catchers end up back on the 26-man roster, especially now that Bart is heating up at Triple-A Sacramento.

Likely Trade Deadline strategy: Stay opportunistic
The Giants are comfortable with their starting pitching depth, but they will likely continue to monitor the market for frontline arms, as Webb and Alex Cobb have been the only true constants in the rotation this season. With  expected to miss four to six weeks with a left hand fracture, the Giants could also seek out middle infield help, especially if rookies Casey Schmitt and Brett Wisely don’t get going offensively in the coming weeks.

Key player: Estrada
A borderline All-Star, Estrada was batting .272/.327/.434 with nine home runs and a team-high 18 stolen bases before breaking his hand on a hit-by-pitch on July 2. The 27-year-old Venezuelan had slowed down at the plate leading up to the injury, but he still continued to provide value through his defense, ranking first among Major League second basemen with 11 Outs Above Average this season. Given some of their offensive inconsistencies, the Giants will be counting on Estrada to make a speedy recovery and regain the elite production he showed at the beginning of the season.

The Giants could also get a late boost from top free-agent acquisition Mitch Haniger, who is expected to be out until at least September with a right forearm fracture.

Prospect to watch: LHP  (No. 1)
Harrison was scheduled to represent the Giants at the 2023 All-Star Futures Game, but he ended up skipping the event due to a “moderate” right hamstring strain. The injury is likely to delay Harrison’s arrival to the Majors, but the Giants still expect the 21-year-old lefty to join their rotation mix at some point in the second half.