A return to the World Series is obviously ideal, but first things first: Make the playoffs. The best way to do that is to win the West. As of today, the Giants are 44-34, a game and a half ahead of Arizona and 10 games over .500. The team was 40-38 at the same time last year, and were in the midst of a seven game losing streak.
After all the injuries, and the worst run support in baseball, the Giants are in a better position to repeat as Western Division Champions.
As we approach the mid way point, here is my winners of my mid season awards:
MVP: Tim Lincecum
People are always so quick to name someone else the most valuable player so far this season because the expectations are so high for Lincecum. But when you look at his results, he leads the teams in strikeouts, while giving up less earned runs and hits than the other two starters who have pitched all season (Cain, Bumgarner) Jonathan Sanchez has given up less hits, but his walks is nearly double Lincecum. The team's ace is the best pitcher on the best staff in baseball. That makes him the Most Valuable Giant. Period.
|Lincecum and Romo might me the two best Giants so far in 2011|
Most Improved Player: Sergio Romo
Romo has spent most of the last two years trying to become an 8th inning setup man for the Giants. Not only has Romo solidified that in 2011, but he could arguably be the best pitcher on the staff so far this year. He has been absolutely dominant, and has been putting up closer type stats. He has 36 strikeouts and 4 walks in 24 innings. He has helped keep the Giants bullpen one of the elite 'pens in all of baseball.
Best Surprise: Ryan Vogelsong
The former Giants farmhand spent most of his career in Japan, so when the 33 year old tried to make the team out of Spring Training, there were no expectations from fans. When he didn't make the team, nobody was surprised because the team had 5 starting pitchers who were one of the healthiest in baseball in 2010. However, when a foot injury sidelined Barry Zito, Vogelsong was called up. All Vogelsong has done is led the staff in ERA (1.86), WHIP (1.09) and Walks per 9 (7.06) over his 11 starts. All of this might mean a trip to Arizona during All-Star Weekend, despite starting the year in Fresno.
Most Reliable Player: Javier Lopez
Lopez had video game like numbers in the post-season last year, especially considering he had to face powerful left handed hitters Jason Heyward, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Josh Hamilton. How could anyone be that dominant for an entire season against lefties? Well if the first half of 2011 is any indication, Lopez can dominate any left handed hitter at any time. Against left handers this year, he has an ERA of 1.00 over 18 innings worth of lefties. He has only given up 6 hits and 2 earned runs in that span. That certainly earns him the honor of Most Reliable.