The Giants sit atop the National League with a 22-13 record. Here’s some analysis to explain their success this season. These grades are based off a player’s performance in comparison to their expectation.
Buster Posey(C): B+
Much is expected of the young star catcher, and Posey has delivered for the most part. He continues to play defense at a high level, although a move to third base down the road makes sense for the Giants. His power numubers are eclipsing all of his previous year’s totals, but his average is a shade below. Look for him to bring that up and nab his third All-Star appearence.
Brandon Belt(1B): B+
Belt got off to a blazing start before tailing off before breaking his thumb in yesterday’s game. His average was below where the Giants would like it, sitting at about .260. His power numbers have impressed so far, near the top of the National League with 9 dingers. Belt was a huge presence in the lineup last season and his hot start created a fearsome trio with Posey and Michael Morse.
Brandon HIcks(2B): A-
Hicks’ journey from non-roster invitee to starting second baseman is astounding. Hicks has struck out too much, and the average is hovering below the Mendoza Line. Hicks is certainly no Marco Scutaro, but has filled in more than sufficiently so far. Hicks has given the Giants bottom of the order power and the ability to change the game with one swing of the bat. Hicks has also shown a knack for late-game clutch hitting, and his defense has outshone expectations.
Brandon Crawford(SS): B+
The third Brandon in the Giants infield is quietly having an excellent season. He is giving Andrelton Simmons a run for his money in this year’s Gold Glove Award with his remarkable fielding. Crawford has improved at the plate and is aiming for a .270 batting average. The Giants would be thrilled with that production from the 8 hole. Crawford has improved his power numbers this year as well. Some spring training tutelage from Barry Bonds has helped him improve against lefties, but he is strangely struggling against right-handers. Expect that to even itself out.
Pablo Sandoval(3B): D
There was a lot of offseason speculation about Sandoval’s weight loss and the positive improvement it would have on his play. Well, he doesn’t look that much skinnier to me. Sandoval’s defense has been solid, I suppose, but not anything to write home about. At the plate, he’s struggling to crack .180. He looks lost from both sides of the plate and it seems like every time I turn around he is hitting into a rally killing double play. If Sandoval recovers his All Star form of years past, this Giants lineup could become a nightmare for opposing pitchers. Andrew Susac is the best offensive prospect the Giants have, but is still unready for the big leagues. If Sandoval doesn’t figure it out, look for the Giants to bring up Susac (a catcher) and move Posey (a college shortstop) to third in a couple years. That leaves Kung Fu Panda as the odd man out.
Michael Morse(LF): A-
Morse came to Giants as a free agent this offseason. After slugging 31 homers in 2011, Morse has spent 2 injury riddled years bouncing around the league. Morse has been even more productive this season, mashing homers at a rate high enough to slide him into the cleapup spot and push Posey into the 3 hole. Morse has hit for a higher average than expected and his reputation as a defensive liability hasn’t come into play too much for SF.
Angel Pagan(CF): A
Many would consider Pagan the Giant’s MVP so far this season. He was huge for them last season, and the Giants slipped to a sub .500 team without him in the lineup. Pagan carries the Giants from the top of the order, and as he goes, they go.
Hunter Pence(RF): B-
Pence’s numbers are far below where the Giants would like them to be, but that’s just the way Pence is. He’s a streaky player. He ended last year on fire, and started this year miserably. He has started to pick it up, and you know that with Pence, you’re always going to get .270-.290 and 20-25 home runs. It will all even out in the end for Pence. I’m not overly concerned with his slow start.
I didn’t do pitcher grades this time because it’s so early that they’ve only had a few starts under their belts. Look for some NFL Season previews soon as the draft just wrapped up and training camp is on the way.