Buster Posey is batting .355 with nine homers and is on pace for a career year offensively, and he has caught a starting staff that ranks a surprising third in the majors in ERA, behind only the star-studded rotations of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Those aren't the elements of this hot Giants start that necessarily most stand out, though.
Over the weekend, Posey was asked what most surprises him about the 28-19 Giants, who were in first place for about a month until having a rough weekend. He said there's something that's not necessarily a surprise, but certainly excites him.
"I'm pleased at how well we're playing defense," Posey said on Monday's Giants Talk podcast. "If you play good defense you're going to be in a lot of games, and I think that that's held true for us this year. Our starting pitching has been great, the back end of the bullpen has been great, and I expect those to keep on going as we move forward.
"But I think what's been pleasing more than anything is just how well we've all played defensively."
The defense has gone under the radar a bit because for the most part -- with Brandon Crawford being the exception -- the Giants aren't a group putting together long highlight reels. But they have been remarkably steady with the gloves night after night, and the numbers match what Posey is seeing from his position behind the plate.
According to Baseball Savant, the Giants rank first in the league with 15 Outs Above Average, and nobody else is even within shouting distance. The Tampa Bay Rays rank second at 11 OAA and the Miami Marlins are the next-closest NL club at nine. That charge has been led by Mauricio Dubon, who is sixth in MLB in total OAA (six) while playing strong defense at second, short and in center field.
Crawford is fifth among shortstops with four OAA, Evan Longoria is fourth at third base with three, and Brandon Belt, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater and Mike Tauchman have also rated as above average.
If you go by the more well-known Defensive Runs Saved, the Giants are tied for sixth in MLB at 16 DRS. Dubon again rates as the team leader there, with Yastrzemski ranking among the league leaders in right field.
If you want to go fully traditional, the Giants -- even after a sloppy weekend -- lead the majors with just 16 errors. They're one of two teams under 20 errors, along with the Houston Astros (18). Posey, Crawford, Belt and Longoria -- the longtime Giants who hold down the infield -- have combined for just five errors through 47 games.
Any way you slice it, the Giants have been one of the best -- if not the best -- defensive teams in baseball. As their most important player reminded us, it's a big reason why they find themselves in the playoff race.