Yes, we did say that the Giants would be struggling. Silly, wasn't it? Still, it was easy to project starting pitching problems (Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong having struggled in '13, plus the 40% shot that Tim Hudson would not pull things together after his ankle injury), and an ongoing weakness with the bat (the 2013 was particularly bereft of power).
So...the Giants have hit 69 HRs in their first 61 games in '14, after hitting only 107 the year before. They are on a pace to hit 183 HRs for the year, though we suspect the total will be closer to 150 when all is said and done.
And there's the bullpen. As of tonight (6/6), the Giants' relievers are 16-5 with a 2.34 ERA. That puts them bubbling right around the Top Ten bullpen ERAs in baseball history. Of course, we've all come to expect this from Sergio Romo...but we might not be so sold on Jean Machi (5-0, 0.33 ERA).
But look...we're burying the lede (again--and you can bet that somebody out there has the stats on that, too). What the Giants are really doing to take things by storm roughly three-eighths of the way through 2014 is that they are absolutely taking it to teams over .500. (We were going to say "good teams," but that is harder to determine today than ever: we'll get back to that in a minute.)
The Giants are 20-7 against teams playing .500 ball or better. (Er, oops...with all these teams at or near .500, these figures can jump around a bit...right now, with Cleveland--swept by the Giants last month in their ongoing skein against interleague opponents--dropping under .500 with a loss tonight, that means the Giants are suddenly only 17-7 in these games.) As Margo Channing said, fasten your seat belts.
And it's the pitching that's doing it. Their ERA against .500+ teams is 2.57, which would be the best in baseball history. All of the starting pitchers except for Matt Cain have ERAs under three--Madison Bumgarner is 5-1, 2.06 thus far. (He was just as superb in such games in '13, but the Giants didn't score much for him and he went just 7-5, 2.15. Cain, Lincecum and Vogelsong were 11-19 in those games last year, with an ERA over five; so far this year they're 5-3, 3.12).
The Giants' hitters are doing well in one clutch stat: RISP with two outs, where they have the highest OPS in all of baseball thus far. Who are the guys doing well in this situation? Angel Pagan (healthy again and a great catalyst for the Giants' offense) and Mike Morse (whose 20 RBI in this breakout category is the highest total in baseball thus far).
So can the Giants keep this up? History says no: the team with the best W-L in recent memory (Mariners, 2001) did not keep their WPCT against good teams above .700. But the G's have a good shot at 90+ wins, barring any serious catastrophes. Given all of the floundering going on in '14, that would easily get them into the post-season, where they can try to work their sudden "even year" magic one more time.