Back in the spring, it was clear no one thought the Giants would amount to much in 2021. Farhan Zaidi's great rebuilding project was expected to be at least a year away from legitimate World Series contention, and preseason predictions had the Giants somewhere between 72 and 75 wins.
Fast forward six months, the Giants have the best record in Major League Baseball, have been atop the loaded NL West for most of the season and just keep on winning.
While the Giants' success continues to surprise a lot of people who expected Kapler's crew to be, well, bad, San Francisco's skipper admits he thinks those preseason predictions for his club spurred the Giants to prove their doubters wrong.
"I think it's notable that all of our players and our staff and our organization were aware of the projections and the expectations at the beginning of the season," Kapler said, via ESPN's Tim Keown. "I think those projections and expectations can provide a lot of motivation, especially with veteran players who believe in themselves. I think that motivation can go a long way toward bringing out peak performance, and this is really about how those players have taken those projections and seen them as an opportunity."
Indeed, the Giants' veteran players have almost all had outstanding seasons. Brandon Crawford has played at an MVP level, Buster Posey has turned back the clock after a year away, Evan Longoria has a .934 OPS and Brandon Belt has mashed a career-high 26 home runs.
Kapler isn't surprised by Crawford's leap, as he knew the shortstop wanted to prove his naysayers wrong. But all the same, it is rare that just about every key Giants veteran has played at an unexpectedly high level.
"First off, Craw trained for this," Kapler told Keown. "When the new group came to the Giants, I think Brandon was in a place where he was not pleased with how the game was beginning to view him: Potentially as a platoon bat, potentially as a shortstop that was still good but no longer at his peak. I think he took that very seriously and said, 'I can show you that's not true.' The motivation is what I find most fascinating.
"Before the season started, you could envision one of these veteran players having a career year," Kapler later said. "But I think it would have been difficult to envision Evan Longoria with a .900 OPS, Brandon Crawford playing at an MVP level, Buster Posey being the most valuable catcher in the game, and Brandon Belt being on pace for one of the best years of his career."
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Giants hold a slim one-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
Despite the Giants' MLB-leading 98 wins, most analysts and experts still believe LA will have what it takes to run down San Francisco and capture the division.
Just a little more motivation for a Giants team that has thrived on doing what most believed they couldn't.