What’s at stake in the second half?

Coming into the second half, the Giants aren’t playing a championship. Yes, they’re only 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card, but FanGraphs gives them a 0.8 percent chance of making it to the playoffs. The Giants aren’t really even playing to be spoiler. Last season, the Dodgers vastly underperformed and there was a chance the Giants could have ruined their season with just one more lousy win. The Giants won’t even get a chance this year. The Dodgers have run away with the division and there’s no hope of bringing them down.

This doesn’t mean that that the Giants aren’t playing for anything, though. There’s still so much on the line. The glut of our attention is focused on what the Giants will do at the deadline. What the Giants get back for Will Smith and Madison Bumgarner should they decide to trade him will impact the Giants’ future certainly, but there’s still three months of baseball to play. These things are still at stake.

Getting Bruce Bochy to 2,000 Wins

2,000 might be an arbitrary milestone, but it’s going to be so excruciating looking at Bruce Bochy’s Baseball Reference page and seeing him at 1998 wins or worse: 1999. If he comes up just short, it’ll be the baseball equivalent of this horrible, horrible video.

The good news is that FanGraphs projects the Giants to finish at 74-88 which would put Bochy at exactly 2,000 wins.

The bad news is that Giants have a nasty habit of not living up to their projections. The Giants need every last one of their wins to get Bochy to 2,000. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that the Giants are a last place team, and the wins don’t matter.

Joe Panik avoiding a non-tender

Joe Panik isn’t the only Giant fighting for a job. Everyone that isn’t signed to a multi-year deal is playing to remain on the team every time they go out. Panik getting cut would feel different, though. He’s not just a promising prospect that couldn’t hack it at the major league level. Panik is a former first-round pick that eventually became an All-Star. He won a Gold Glove. He was a World Series, dang it. But there’s a nonzero chance that he’ll be let go at the end of the year.

At one point, Panik had the longest on-base streak on the team, but since that streak ended on May 19, he’s hitting just .206/.269/.277 for a 46 wRC+. On the year, he has just a .619 OPS and he has been worth -0.2 fWAR. Panik’s defense is still fine, but it’s not good enough to warrant the lack of offense, and he doesn’t have the versatility to play a position other than second.

If Panik is going to stick with the Giants, he’ll need to go bananas in the second half.

A 20-homer hitter

Hey, did you know that the Giants haven’t had a 20-homer hitter since Brandon Crawford in 2015? What’s that? You did? You say we mention that on this website at least once a week? Well, sorry.

But the Giants have a real chance to end this drought this year. They have four players with a reasonable chance to crack 20 dingers this year. Evan Longoria and Kevin Pillar are tied for the team lead with 12 homers and are on pace for 21 homers. Pablo Sandoval has 10 homers and is on pace for 20. Brandon Belt is right behind him with 10, and he’s on pace for 18.

Unless Rob Manfred dejuices the balls because he’s sad Justin Verlander is mad at him, the conditions will be right for a Giant to finally cross that threshold again. The weather is still getting hotter, and the Giants still make trips to Milwaukee and Philadelphia. They make two more trips to Colorado. It’s more likely that the Giants will have two 20-homer hitters than they’ll all suffer a series of Spinal Tap drummer misfortunes and fall short.

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