Farhan Zaidi breaks down Giants' performance at 50-game mark

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Zaidi breaks down Giants' performance through 50 games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Giants weren't able to take too many positives out of Thursday night's loss, the fourth to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the span of a week. Alex Wood had his worst outing of the year and the lineup managed just three hits against a rotating cast of relievers.

If you take a step back, though, the big picture remains surprisingly bright. Thursday night's game was the 50th of the season for the Giants, and even with the loss they hit that checkpoint with a 30-20 record. That's good for third in the National League, and their run differential of plus-55 also places them right behind the San Diego Padres and Dodgers. 

When he appeared on Giants Pregame Live before Thursday's game, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi broke down what has been a very positive start to his third season in charge. 

"It's been really encouraging," he told NBC Sports Bay Area. "We've had moments here and there where maybe the offense has slowed down a little bit, maybe the relief pitching hasn't been as tight as we would have liked for certain stretches, but we feel pretty good about where we are overall. 

"At the same time, we know there are many teams that have started the season with 50 good games that are never heard from again. We know there's a long way to go in this season but we're excited about how things are coming together, and we have a really confident group in the clubhouse."

Manager Gabe Kapler had a similar summary Thursday night, even as he said repeatedly that the Giants have to find a way to step their game up against the reigning World Series champions. 

"We've gotten off to a good start. We've got a ways to go," he said. "We've done some good work, and obviously we need to play better against the Dodgers."

The Giants are 0-4 against Los Angeles and 30-16 against everyone else. That includes a lot of the worst teams in the league, and they've already played all their games against the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds, while facing the Colorado Rockies nine times. But the Giants also have played the division-leading Padres nine times through 50 games, and they're 5-4. 

The overall picture shows a balanced team, albeit one that doesn't blow opponents away in most categories. The Giants rank 12th in OPS, powered by 69 homers, which places them fifth in MLB. Their hitters rank in the top 10 in walks but also in strikeouts. 

The pitching has been the big story, with the rotation boasting a 2.98 ERA that is fifth overall. The bullpen is middle of the pack, although Tyler Rogers has pitched like an All-Star and Jake McGee has been a nice find. Defensively, the Giants have the fewest errors in the big leagues and sit second behind the Tampa Bay Rays in Outs Above Average. 

The Giants have the look of a team that can stay in the playoff race over the next 112 games, although health will be a key. They have had plenty of soft-tissue injuries, but so far they've avoided season-ending ones and have managed to keep most of their everyday players on the field. That includes Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, both of whom are hitting as well as they ever have. Combined with Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria, the four veteran infielders have totaled 35 homers and 5.4 Wins Above Replacement.

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"They've been incredible," Zaidi said. "The production on the field has really driven a lot of our success, and even beyond that, let's face it, we're exceeding expectations as a team and people out there didn't necessarily think we'd be in this position and be right there with the Dodgers and Padres, even though it's early in the season. That's one of the benefits of having players like the Brandons and Buster, who have been there before, who have multiple World Series to their names.

"They're not fazed by anything. They're not surprised that we're playing well, and when the team performs well it's just what they expect, it doesn't come as a surprise. I think that kind of confidence is something that can help us continue our good play from this early part of the season."

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