As the second month of the MLB regular season is inching closer to an end, the San Francisco Giants are among the most surprising teams in the league.
As of Tuesday afternoon, they have a positive record of 28-19 and are just 1.5 games out of first place, occupied by the San Diego Padres.
The organization appears to have taken the next step in player development in the last couple of years, and appears primed to compete with what it has.
The question is, can the Giants get enough out of their roster to win their division, which is considered among the toughest in the league?
The Giants can win the National League West division in 2021, but that doesn’t mean they are favorites.
They need to overcome two rivals that look, at least on paper, better than them: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Padres.
The Dodgers are viewed by experts, fans, players, and coaches as the premier organization in MLB and the team to beat in 2021.
They are the current World Series champions and are built to repeat.
Los Angeles has been bitten by the injury bug, but they should improve as they get healthier.
Their offense is also extremely dangerous, and they have a budding star in Fernando Tatis Jr.
So, what are the Giants’ chances?
San Francisco Has Grown Leaps and Bounds
Wood has a 1.93 ERA in 42 innings, mostly helped by a revamped slider that looks legitimate.
Alex Wood, Dirty 86mph Slider. 😨 pic.twitter.com/qcn5d0RQbP
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 11, 2021
DeSclafani has performed like a mid-rotation starter with a 3.54 ERA, but Gausman is the true star of the unit.
The right-hander is pitching like an ace, twirling 59.2 frames of a 1.66 ERA, among the lowest in the National League.
Several people left Posey for dead after middling seasons in 2019 and 2020, but he has found the fountain of youth and is slashing .355/.430/.645 with nine homers.
— SF Gigantes (@SFGigantes) May 23, 2021
He is the Giants’ leader in Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, with 1.9.
Crawford, previously seen as a glove-first shortstop, is now a slugger, hitting .256/.336/.543 and leading the team with 11 bombs.
If those five players find a way to maintain their performance close to their current levels, and outfielders Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson return to form, then San Francisco has a chance to make the postseason, most likely as a wild card team.
They Aren’t Favorites, But Anything Can Happen
They will likely need bullpen help near the deadline, too.
They could, theoretically, make a run at the Dodgers and Padres if those things, plus others, go right for them.
Mathematically, it is still extremely early in the season, and since they are only 1.5 games back, anything can happen from this point until late September.
Winning the NL West division remains an unlikely scenario, and the team certainly shouldn’t sacrifice valuable future assets for present help if they think they are going to regret it later down the road.
But anything is possible and the Giants have made enough strides that inviting their fans to believe isn’t such a crazy dream anymore.