Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/8/12

The Giants opened the season with Aubrey Huff in left field, Tim Lincecum on the mound and hopes that Freddy Sanchez would return soon.

It's a new world order.

Huff is a distant memory. Lincecum no longer is the ace. And Sanchez won't play a single game in 2012.

But the Giants are doing pretty well for themselves despite a late first-half slide. They've settled on an outfield alignment of Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco. Their rotation is top heavy even without Lincecum, thanks to Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong -- even Barry Zito has been serviceable. And Ryan Theriot has played well at second base, making the loss of Sanchez bearable.

As always, the Giants could use more hitting as the trade deadline approaches, but the emergence of Cabrera (he leads the majors in hits and multiple-hit games) and comeback of Buster Posey (after he missed most of last season) have given the Giants more consistency in the middle of the lineup.

Cabrera, Posey and Pablo Sandoval were voted into the NL All-Star starting lineup, and Cain, now with a perfect game to his name, was chosen in the player vote.

Not surprisingly, the rotation is the heart of the team. While Santiago Casilla was a solid fill-in for injured closer Brian Wilson, he struggled in the final weeks before the break and got a hand from Sergio Romo.

The offense has upgraded from last year, thanks in part to a new-look outfield, and the Giants entered the second half positive they can be a playoff team -- even though they're not like they were when the season began.

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