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Top Five Surprises for San Francisco Giants so Far in 2012: A Fan's Take

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The San Francisco Giants now hold 34 games under their belts as of May 13. Unfortunately, that comes along with a lackluster 17-17 record, and the club is playing like nothing but a .500 team. It is hard to describe this organization as unexciting so far though. There have been quite a few surprises along the way nonetheless. Sure, seeing the team struggle to compete is not exciting, but these surprises are fun to talk about.

Barry Zito: The Effective Starting Pitcher

Nobody guessed Zito would choose this season as the perfect time for a career turnaround. After starting six games, the pricey arm sports a 2-1 record with a 2.21 ERA and 4 quality starts. None of his outings looked particularly terrible despite a weak 1.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The former Cy Young winner always held the potential to succeed, but that potential never bore fruits up until now. Of course, he could quickly decline sooner or later. You cannot really complain about him at the moment either way.

Some Really Horrible Defense All Around

Currently, the Giants can only lay claim to first place when it comes to poor defense. This lineup sports the most errors (37) and lowest fielding percentage (.971) in the Majors. A lot of runs are crossing home plate due to such bad defense, and it all shows in the standings. Brandon Crawford, Conor Gillaspie, and many others are not so hot on the defensive side. Fortunately, Bruce Bochy recently started changing up the lineup in order to maximize defense as best as possible.

Tim Lincecum's Struggles on the Mound

San Francisco is paying The Freak $18.0 million to pitch like Zito this season. Through seven starts, he carries a 2-3 record with a 5.89 ERA over 36.2 innings pitched. He is barely averaging over 5.0 innings per start, which is a far cry from his career norms. Lincecum is slowly showing some improvements, but he really needs to pick up the pace to see results. For now, he is not helping himself earn a long-term contract in a couple seasons. Who could have foreseen such a poor start to the season for him?

Madison Bumgarner Receives Run Support

Finally, the lineup is giving MadBum the run support that he never received in the past. He sports a 5-2 record with a 2.80 ERA over 45.0 innings pitched. Bumgarner departed five of his starts so far with at least a two-run cushion and won all those contests. In fact, he does not own a single no decision through his first seven starts. That is a far cry from what typically happened last season whether he pitched brilliantly or not. Luckily, San Francisco is benefiting from these results just as much as himself.

Pablo Sandoval Sees Identical Injury from Last Season

Kung Fu Panda recently broke the hamate bone in his left hand and that probably sounds familiar. He did break the same bone in his right hand last season after all. Obviously, this coincidence is fairly spooky to say the least. Plus, his performance metrics look similar from this season to last. Now the team must deal with his absence for at least four weeks and probably longer. Without a doubt, San Francisco will have a tough time filling this offensive void. Surprising is an understatement for this situation.

Despite these developments, the San Francisco Giants are still playing slightly worse than last season through the same point. Underperformance from Tim Lincecum absolutely offsets the turnaround from Barry Zito and the dominance of Madison Bumgarner. Horrible defense is absolutely costing this club wins, especially when the offense performs poorly. In the end, these occurrences are surprising in good and bad ways. Consistent offensive, defensive, and pitching performances are necessary for wins, and anything less will not produce results.

For more information, visit the San Francisco Giants site.

Errick D. Williams is a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants who has attended over 200 games at AT&T Park. He lives in San Diego but regularly travels back up to the Bay Area to catch a game with friends and family members.

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