SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants anticipated having a season to remember. However, they expected a year of consistency, not futility.San Francisco's 34-56 record entering the All-Star break put the club on pace to drop 101 games, which would represent the only time in franchise history besides 1985 (62-100) that the
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants anticipated having a season to remember. However, they expected a year of consistency, not futility.
San Francisco's 34-56 record entering the All-Star break put the club on pace to drop 101 games, which would represent the only time in franchise history besides 1985 (62-100) that the Giants reached triple digits in losses.
The Giants endured a seven-game losing streak, two five-game losing streaks and three four-game losing streaks during their first-half descent. Though lack of offense was a particular problem for the Giants, every phase of the game deserted them at one point or another.
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Before April ended, the Giants began operating with an eye toward the future by promoting their top position-player prospect, infielder Christian Arroyo. Others followed, including Austin Slater, Ryder Jones, Kyle Crick and Jae-Gyun Hwang. The Giants thus sought respectability for 2017 while looking toward who could help them in 2018.
What went right
Buster Posey was elected by fans to start the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard and ranked among the Majors' top hitters through much of the first half, reaaffirming his status as an elite catcher. Promoted to the Majors in early June, Slater hit .290 in 29 games and solidified left field until a groin injury threatened to end his season. Rookie left-hander Ty Blach joined the rotation and distinguished himself with steady competence. Jeff Samardzija (4-10) outperformed his record, striking out 127 batters and walking 14. Rangers castoff Sam Dyson became a viable alternative as the team's closer, while other relievers began trying to position themselves for bullpen spots in 2018.
What went wrong
What didn't? Opening Day starter Madison Bumgarner was sidelined for most of the first half with injuries sustained in a dirt-bike accident on April 20. Co-ace Johnny Cueto pitched adequately but, nagged by blisters on his throwing hand, couldn't duplicate his dazzling 2016, when he was named the NL's starter for the All-Star Game. Player Page for Matt Cain was much more successful at home (3-2, 2.98 ERA) than on the road (0-6, 8.14), and Matt Moore (3-9, 6.04) fell far short of expectations. Closer Mark Melancon went on the disabled list twice, preventing him from delivering on the promise that led the Giants to sign him to a four-year, $62 million deal. Until Slater arrived, left field was a revolving door, with 10 different players starting at that position.
What we learned
It became clearer that the Giants couldn't keep up with rival teams who created the power-hitting free-for-all that swept the Major Leagues. San Francisco might have to resort to more creative means of offense -- running more, for instance, or somehow adding a power hitter next offseason. At least the Giants did what they could to cope with the power explosion. Brandon Belt and Posey positioned themselves to exceed 20 homers, a figure no Giant reached last year. Pitching and defense, the Giants' traditional strengths, will remain essential skills. But now they realize that adding emphasis to the offense is a must.
First-half top everyday player (non-pitcher)
Posey. Not only does he have a chance to win his second career batting title, but his collaboration with the pitching staff remains adept.
First-half top pitcher
Samardzija. It's hard to argue with his 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, despite his record and ERA. Samardzija also has been durable and looks bound to top 200 innings for the fifth consecutive year.
First-half top rookie
Slater. He wasn't flashy, but he got the job done, as proven by manager Bruce Bochy's willingness to play him every day. Slater bore down when it counted most, as his .346 batting average (9-for-26) with runners in scoring position indicated.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.