2023 first half review: Top 5 surprise performers from the SF Giants

Patrick Bailey, SF Giants
Patrick Bailey, SF Giants / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

After a tumultuous off-season that saw them miss out on both Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, the SF Giants came into the 2023 campaign being severely overlooked by most people involved in baseball, but as we approach the All-Star break, they're in a fantastic position.

2023 first half review: Top 5 surprise performers from the SF Giants

At 47-40 with three games against the Colorado Rockies to play, the Giants are just three games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West, and they've done so in large part due to massive contributions from unexpected sources.

So as we head into the half way point of a seemingly successful start to the 2023 campaign, let's take a look back on the Giants first 90 games of the season and disect who the top five most surprising performers have been thus far.

1. Alex Cobb

Coming into the 2023 campaign, many Giants were expecting veteran right hander Alex Cobb to be a solid contributor for this rotation, and while he has dealt with his fair share of injuries once again, when he has been on the mound, he's been more than anyone could have asked for.

In almost every major category, Cobb is right behind ace Logan Webb, with a 6-2 record over 89.2 innings pitched, along with a 2.91 ERA and 86 strikeouts, and if he can stay healthy, he will be crucial for this team down the stretch.

Given the disappointing play of seemingly every other Giants starter, it makes Cobb's season even more important, and even if you expected him to have a great year, very few thought he could pitch like this on a consistent basis. Cobb's strong start has been surprising and he has been rewarded with his first All-Star selection.

2. Blake Sabol

The SF Giants came into the 2023 campaign with plenty of talent coming through the system, and while there were some big names that have performed, one that no one saw coming was catcher/outfielder Blake Sabol, who is continuing to play his way into an every-day role for the Giants.

In 66 games this season, Sabol has shown utility as well as production with a .251 batting average along with 10 home runs and 33 RBI, and if he can continue to play all across the diamond, he may become just as valuable to this team as the likes of Patrick Bailey and Luis Matos.

While the consistency needs to improve over long stretches, Sabol has shown plenty of pop and defensive talent, and if he finishes the season this way, the 25-year-old may play his way into an everyday spot next season and beyond. Sabol is still learning the nuances of the catcher position and the Giants expected some growing pains with this experiment.

3. Tyler and Taylor Rogers

One of the strengths of this organization for years has been the talented bullpen, so when the team signed Taylor Rogers to join his brother, Tyler Rogers, in San Francisco, it was a fun moment for two players that struggled mightily in 2022.

Thankfully, playing together has seemingly invigorated them both, as Tyler is back to his best with a 1.83 ERA, on pace for the best season of his career since his standout rookie campaign back in 2019 with the Giants.

As for Taylor, his 2.76 ERA over 29.1 innings have been just the key addition this team was looking for, and if the team can go deep into the playoffs, they will need the pair of them along with Camilo Doval to be elite, and if that's the case, they have a good chance of a deep run.

4. Sean Manaea

While the recent pickups of Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, the aforementioned Taylor Rogers and Mitch Haniger have all been solid for the Giants, there was one that appears to be a big mistake right now, and that's veteran left-hander Sean Manea.

The 31-year-old was signed to be a key piece in this rotation, but unfortunately, he could just never find his footing, and he is now working out of the bullpen with a 5.49 ERA over his 57.1 innings of work, a major disappointment.

Now, he will look to work his way back into the rotation, and after giving up just three runs in his past 8 innings of work, there's optimism he can do that, but for now, it's hard to see him as anything but a letdown for pitching starved Giants fans.

5. Patrick Bailey

The biggest surprise for the 2023 SF Giants is perhaps now their biggest strength, and while Joey Bart was expected by many to be the next star catcher in San Francisco, 24-year-old Patrick Bailey has taken that mantle and run with it thus far.

In just 37 games, Bailey has become a star on both sides of the plate, throwing out runners at an unmatched pace, while putting up a .293 average along with 5 home runs and 26 RBI, showing that he's the future of the Giants.

Ultimately, it's so hard to predict how a season will play out with so many injuries and struggles, and for someone like Bailey who was on so few radars when the year began, this has been a whirlwind, and when he finally settles in at the next level, we are looking at a key piece of this team for years to come.