If you were handicapping the Giants' position at the All-Star Break, you might have guessed they would be over .500 (but not by a lot), in the race (but not on top), solid (but not spectacular). And that's exactly what the Giants have done (but not with contributions from the same players you would have guessed).
Bulls -- guys who have surpassed expectations:
Aubrey Huff has been phenomenal, hitting, slugging, and even playing adequate defense at both 1B and LF. Signed to a relatively cheap one-year deal, Huff was in the conversation for All-Star representation, has been one of the best free agent bargains in baseball this year and is a big reason the Giants are on the sunny side of .500.
Juan Uribe, though he has tailed off lately, he was an important spark plug who rose from "utility player without a position to call home" to "every day staple," first subbing for Freddy Sanchez until he got healthy, then slotting in for the alternately injured and ineffective Edgar Renteria. If there is a such thing as "clutch," Uribe seems to have the gift and he has certainly added much needed power to the Giants lineup.
Andres Torres has been fantastic, getting on base and flying around the bases, hitting for decent slugging with an assortment of doubles, triples, and home runs both inside the park and out. For a guy any team could have had cheap off the scrapheap two years ago, Torres has been a godsend at a premium position, CF, which he has played extremely well.
Bears -- guys who have not met expectations:
Tim Lincecum has hardly been "the problem," among the major league leaders in strikeouts and still a pitcher no team wants to face. But this year, for the first time in his career, Lincecum has been wobbly and not always in command. He has still been a very good pitcher, but not really a true "ace."
Pablo Sandoval continues to swing at everything, but when he is mostly missing it's not quite as charming. He looks lost at the plate and Bruce Bochy looks even more lost, bouncing him from the No. 3 spot to the No. 8 spot, and everywhere in between trying to find a place where Sandoval will take a pitch or two once in a while.
Aaron Rowand is now an expensive bench player, lacking Torres' plate discipline and consistency, and settling in as one of the biggest "albatrosses" on Brian Sabean's ledger.
Will the Giants compete for the NL West crown or the Wild Card in the season's second half? That probably depends mostly on whether the bears improve more than the bulls regress -- or vice versa.