First Half Awards
Yes, faithful readers, I’m back, ready to once again bring a skillfull mix of jubilance, sarcasm, and deep despair linked to a certain 2002 World Series that I like to believe never took place. With the first half of the 2010 season behind us and All Star Game set to begin later today, there are some accolades to be handed out to a few choice players on or associated with the Giants.
Serendipity of the Year: Andres Torres
Se-ren-dip-it-y: noun, 1. A desirable discovery made by accident. In my opinion there is no better word for Andres Torres’ contribution than serendipitous. Before last season, Andres Torres was a career minor leaguer with no body of work that would suggest he’d make even an average major league player. He was rapidly approaching the wrong side of 30, and had yet to really impress scouts at any level. When he made the 2009 roster, needless to say there were some eyebrows raised and speculative “hurrumphs” grunted all around. After a more than respectable 2009 season in limited playing time, he was once again on the Opening Day roster. He’s responded by putting up huge numbers out of the lead-off spot, while effectively making sure Aaron Rowand is no longer an everyday player. Torres blames his newfound success on a complete retooling of his swing–early in his career, coaches had him slapping at the ball to utilize his speed. Now he’s staying back and driving the ball, and seeing the fruits of his labor pay off.
First Half MVP: Aubrey Huff
I’ve said it before: I wanted Huff in Giants orange back in November while the front office was still aiming for Adam LaRoche and Nick Johnson (who has been on the DL for a majority of this season). Come December, I got my wish, albeit to mixed reactions amongst the fan community. Some saw his awful 2009 campaign as a harbinger of a career in decline, while others were hopeful that he would return to his 2008 form. I was looking for something in between these expectations at a discount price on the free agent market. Huff has rewarded the faithful to the tune of a .295/.384/.544 line to go with 17 home runs, 54 RBI’s, and a 43/40 walk to strikeout ratio. Aubrey’s had success like this in the power department before, but the plate discipline he’s exhibited is unprecedented in his career.
Player I Would Most Like to Base a Religion Off Of: Buster Posey
Buster Posey entered the Major Leagues on a golden chariot pulled by winged-horses amidst the blare of trumpets and angels singing hallelujahs. All hyperbole aside, he’s been everything that we as fans could have hoped for and more. Let’s take a look at just his last week of at-bats: 15 hits in 27 at-bats, 5 home runs, 14 (!) RBI’s, 9 runs scored, and 17 damsels in distress saved from burning buildings. No other rookie in the history of the National League has had a week like that, damsels not included. Then you look at the home runs that Posey has hit and continue to be amazed: by my count, 4 of his 7 home runs have gone out to the opposite field. Now that he’s catching every day with a certain Molina no longer around, all is right in the world.
Trade That Made Me Want to Hug Brian Sabean: Bengie Molina to the Rangers
Way back when I played high school basketball, I was out at Serra High School where I met Brian Sabean face-to-face. This was the offseason of the fateful Pierzynski/Nathan/Liriano disaster, so needless to say I have my regrets; the only thing I did when I met the man in charge was shake his hand. Nowadays, there aren’t a whole lot of things that would make me want to hug the man who dealt an All-Star closer and starting pitcher for “Double Play” AJ Pierzynski. Here’s one instance in which I might be tempted.
Once Buster Posey got the call-up to the Majors, Bruce Bochy was stalwart in penciling Bengie Molina into the lineup at catcher on a regular basis. Brian Sabean solved this problem by shipping Molina off to the Rangers for reliever Chris Ray and former first-rounder Michael Main, making the deal a complete win for the Giants side. Ray has performed well in limited time out of the bullpen, while Main is a live young arm that many scouts say is destined to at least be a #3 guy in a big league rotation. On top of all this, Bengie Molina in the decline of his career somehow provides the Giants with a huge return on the trade market. Now there’s playing time galore for the likes of Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz, and a complete lack of Molina in the starting lineup.
Biggest Disappointment: Pablo Sandoval
Before I go on here, please don’t interpret this as an anti-Panda tirade. He’s a likable guy, has shown the ability to carry an offense, and with a nickname like the “Kung Fu Panda,” it’s really difficult to not pull for him. Before the 2010 season, I had Pablo pegged for a breakout season of epic proportions. Based on his ISO (isolated power) from last year, he ranked up there with the likes of Ryan Braun, showing flashes 30+ home run pop. Needless to say, he hasn’t lived up to this billing. His BABIP is way down and he’s not making solid contact. That said, if his bat awakens in the second half, the Giants offense could be something to be reckoned with. Imagine a middle of the order with Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval all hitting at their best. Such a possibility makes a division title seem all too possible.
So there you have it. Expect these same awards to be handed out at the conclusion of the season. Assuming the Giants don’t go nutty and trade for Corey Hart, we could have an interesting season on our hands once games begin again post-All Star Break.