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Fill-ins Helping San Francisco Giants Lead MLB in Wins

Jul 1, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie (21) celebrates with pitcher Johnny Cueto after scoring in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 1, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie (21) celebrates with pitcher Johnny Cueto after scoring in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Having been traveling out of the country the past couple weeks, I’ve been away from the Foghorn and have only been able to follow the San Francisco Giants by mostly checking box scores online. So, I know what’s been going on relative to wins and losses, stats, and roster moves.

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But I didn’t really have much time to read daily news coverage of Bay Area news outlets, and I sure wasn’t able to watch games or highlights on TV. So, I’m able, at least partially, to look at the Giants with fresh eyes, as someone who stepped away from the daily grind for a bit and can view the past couple weeks as a singular body of work, rather than scrutinizing each of the past 14 or 15 games individually.

What do I see? A team that has overtaken the Chicago Cubs for the most wins in the Major Leagues (though the Giants don’t have the best winning percentage), despite being without its best offensive player and enduring some woeful starting pitching.

If Hunter Pence hasn’t been in the lineup and the pitching hasn’t been stellar, then that must mean the offense has been getting some big contributions from elsewhere. Indeed, Angel Pagan has been on a tear, much like he was to start the season, while Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford have been hitting well and producing runs. No surprise there.

But there’s more. With Matt Duffy out due to injury, it’s given Conor Gillaspie a chance to fill in at third base and finally give the Giants a return on their former first-round investment—albeit, after having parted ways with Gillaspie and then bringing him back a few years later as a minor league free agent.

And there’s 30-year-old journeyman Ramiro Pena, who, like Gillaspie, is batting over .400 over the past couple weeks while filling in for an injured Giants infielder—second baseman Joe Panik, in Pena’s case. And when Pena sprained his ankle, Grant Green came up from Triple-A Sacramento and contributed, having recorded seven hits in 22 at-bats for a .318 average.

Oh, and the outfield platoon of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson has proven useful after a shaky start to their attempt of replacing Pence and a previously injured Pagan. The two have combined for 4 home runs and 9 RBI since over the last half-month. Did I mention Trevor Brown has also been swinging a warm bat? He’s gone 7-for-24 from the backup catcher position.

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This level of offensive output from backups can’t be maintained, nor will the Giants want to rely on it too much longer. But these are the kind of contributions a team needs from time to time to compete for a championship. It sure is comforting to know that when starters like Pence, Panik and Duffy are out, the Giants have the quality of depth to adequately fill those voids to not skip a beat.

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