Giants' 2017 a season out of sync

Posey earns fifth All-Star nod amid SF's myriad struggles

Giants' 2017 a season out of sync

SAN FRANCISCO -- Of all the unflattering statistics that can be associated with this year's last-place Giants, the most telling set of numbers might be these: 42-38.

That was their record when they scored first. Not bad, right? After all, it's above .500.

However, compare that with the Giants' performance in the same category in previous years. They went 61-28 and 56-28 after scoring first in 2015 and '16, respectively.

Electric field: Defense key to Giants' 2018

So, by comparison, here's what that 42-38 mark means: The Giants were less successful at establishing themselves early in games. And even when they scored first, they lacked the pitching to keep them ahead and enough offense to extend a lead.

Here's a look at five Giants who, just like the team's performance when scoring first, embodied the club's many shortcomings and scattered successes:

Bumgarner K's five batters

1. Bumgarner's bummer bike ride

The Giants owned a 6-10 record as April 20 dawned, but neither the ballclub nor the front office seemed overly concerned. A winning streak or two would put the team at or near first place in the National League West where it belonged.

Then Madison Bumgarner injured himself during the team's scheduled off-day in Denver by riding dirt bikes with two relatives.

As Bumgarner described later, he was nearly done with his spin when the accident occurred. It left him with bruised ribs and a sprained left shoulder.

"I realize that's definitely not the most responsible decision I've made," Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner recovered on schedule, rejoined the starting rotation after the All-Star break and pitched capably. While Bumgarner was sidelined, Ty Blach joined the rotation and exceeded expectations. However, the Giants fell far short of expectations by finishing last in the NL West. Without their ace left-hander, the Giants struggled to end losing streaks and prolong winning streaks.

Melancon strikes out Braun

2. Injuries make Melancon miss his mark

Mark Melancon, whose availability in free agency prompted the Giants to sign him to a four-year, $62 million contract last offseason, twice went on the disabled list with a strained right pronator. He ultimately underwent surgery in September, and he expects to be ready for Spring Training.

Melancon converted 11 saves in 16 chances, which wasn't what the Giants had in mind when they signed him. Then again, given the team's below-average performance, he would have been underutilized anyway.

Dyson completes the shutout

3. Live and let Dyson

When Melancon was unable to pitch, the Giants actually preserved most of their late-inning leads due to Sam Dyson, who revived his career with the Giants after the Rangers released him in early June. Like Melancon, Dyson wasn't deluged with save opportunities, but he managed to convert 14 of his first 15 chances.

Given Melancon's erratic availability, Dyson's effectiveness helped stabilize the bullpen. Without the resurgence of Dyson, who was 1-6 with a 10.80 ERA and four blown saves in 17 first-half games with Texas, the Giants' meltdown would have been more extreme.

Posey's three RBI doubles

4. The consistent catcher

Buster Posey continued to bolster his Hall of Fame candidacy by leaving his footprints on previously uncharted territory. Example: He led the Giants in hits for the fourth time in his career. Only three catchers topped their respective clubs in hits as many as three times: Jason Kendall, Joe Mauer and Ivan Rodriguez, who happens to be enshrined at Cooperstown. Posey likely would have been more prolific had he avoided late-season injuries to each hand.

Posey also made his fifth All-Star team. The only other Giants catcher to receive as many as three All-Star recognitions was Walker Cooper, who played in the franchise's New York era.

Samardzija's solid start

5. The prolific pitcher

Jeff Samardzija did everything this year but win. His teammates' flaws had much to do with his 9-15 record, because the right-hander excelled at taking care of his own business. Samardzija exceeded 200 innings and 200 strikeouts and more than doubled his strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Samardzija's susceptibility to home runs has been an inevitable result of his strike-throwing tendencies. But he usually managed to avoid yielding clumps of home runs or multiple big flies with men on base.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.