Here we are, on the cusp of the All-Star Break, a time to stand back, take stock and assess your favorite baseball team — and you still don’t know what the heck to make of the 2022 Giants.
If the Giants were to issue a report to their shareholders, it might read: “We’re in a bit of a holding pattern … let’s get back to you by August 1.”
Or: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Nothing like circling the MLB airport, waiting to land in purgatory.
On the one hand, we have the winning record: 45-42, and within shouting distance of a wild card playoff spot.
On the other hand, there is the daunting sight of Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes and the 49-40 Milwaukee Brewers coming to town for four tonight— chased by four after the All-Star Break at everyone’s favorite ear-splitting Nausea-Dome, Dodger Stadium.
2021 continues to haunt the current crew. Last year at the All-Star Break, Gabe Kapler’s Fightin’ Platoons were 57-32 (!!), Buster Posey was hitting .330 with a .978 OPS (!!) and every pinch hitter was hitting dingers.
This is what you call “creating unrealistic expectations”, as I was just saying to Buster as he packed up his last box and moved back to Georgia.
This year, Gabe Kapler is forced to defend his line-change strategy so much, that he’s asking everyone to change the verbiage surrounding pinch hitters. “We’re not pinch-hitting for,” he said. “We’re pinch-hitting with.”
I think I get it. Like, “pinch hitting for Abner Doubleday … George Orwell.” Or something like that?
The hockey line-change approach works when you lead the NL in home runs, as the team did in 2021. It doesn’t work so much when you press the button and the carnation squirts water in your face. Or when your 10-year-old kid says, “Daddy, they’re pinch-hitting for Joe Pederson again.”
Yes, yes, we know Pederson himself said on our show he signed up to hit right-handers; that he and Farhan Zaidi agreed to it before he inked the deal. But the Giants are 13th in MLB in attendance for a reason. Nobody came to the yard to see Barry Bonds sit against lefties.
But Farhan and GM Scott Harris and Gabe and reams and reams of analytics tell you this is the most efficient way to win a game, so these are your Giants.
Take that for data.
Can this team make the playoffs, as currently constituted?
The easy answer is, I’ll get back to you after the four-game set at Dodger Stadium. I mean, you could answer “yes”, because they are currently just two games out of the third wild card. That’s right, I said it: “third wild card”, a phrase that rolls off the tongue as easily as “Who’s the starting DH for the NL in the All Star Game?”
The 2015 Giants wish there was a third wild card.
That’s the team I found with the closest comp, record-wise, to the ’22 crew at the All-Star Break. Bochy’s defending World Series champs were 46-43 at the Break that year, which the current Giants would be if they split the first two with Milwaukee.
(Also, Madison Bumgarner went 18-9 with a 2.93 ERA that year, and hit five tanks and had a .743 OPS, just for your nostalgia files.)
That team wound up 84-78, and missed the playoffs.
This team could easily go 84-78, and make the playoffs.
Had there been a third wild card in 2015, Bochy’s Boys would have snagged it.
See? It’s all relative.
Now, back to the ballpark for a huge four-game series, where we try to figure out how this all relates.