Wild Card Race is Giants to lose
With the Giants playing so poorly that they have basically ceded the NL Western Division Championship to the surging Dodgers, can they even hold onto a Wild Card spot?
Every Dodger and Giant fan can tell you that the Giants won their last championship by getting into the play-in game but can they even get into that game this year?
As of right now the Giants have a 1/2 game lead over the NY Mets and a one-game lead over the lacklustre Cardinals. Pittsburgh and Miami are both headed backwards, and though they have a shot, it is such a slim one, I’m not going to bother with discussing them, except to say they both picked a bad time to go 2 – 8 over their last 10 games.
The Giants were, of course, the team with the best record in baseball at the all-star game and held a huge 6. 5 lead over the Dodgers in the NL West. Much has been written about how the Giants have been the worst team in baseball since the all-star break and that 6.5 lead over the Dodgers is now a five-game deficit. The funny part of this is that when you google “Giants worse record in the 2nd half” you have dates from August 22nd to Sept 8th. Which basically means that the panic button was hit on August 22nd, and has been held down for almost three weeks. Can a team that had to use Joe Nathan in one of the biggest games of the year in the bottom of the 9th be a team that has a reasonable shot at holding off the NY Mets and Cardinals?
the odds are statistically based, and they don’t include factors like “the Giants playing like absolute buffoons” and other technical details, but that’s probably a good thing. We hate the Giants right now because we have to watch them, but they probably aren’t this bad. The formulas and spreadsheets haven’t had to watch this unwatchable joy-prison night after night after night, so they don’t care. They’re just looking at a 1½-game advantage over the Mets with 24 games left, with 13 games remaining against under-.500 teams, and they’re liking the Giants’ odds.
Of course, Grant wrote this before that 1 1/2 lead over the Mets had shrunk to 1/2 game in 24 hours. This is what Grant wrote after that loss on Wednesday Night.
Disclaimer – Grant Bisbee is my favorite write these days and it is probably a good thing he writes about the Giants for SB Nation. If a hack had been at the helm during their three ring run it would have been a tad more annoying than it already was. I knew Grant was good but when he writes about his Giants as they tumble around as though they are in an endless dryer cycle he gets better and better. Who else could come up with the pain index?
So we have the basics. Yes, this Giants team is historically bad when trailing after eight innings. Yes, they’re historically bad when leading after eight innings. Just how rare is the combination?
For that, I developed the Pain Index, which is nothing more than:
Losses when leading after 8 innings
wins when trailing after 8 innings
So the higher the number, the more painful the ninth innings in that season. How do the 2016 Giants rank?
The Giants have the lead but it would be hard to say they the best shot. For one thing, they play the Dodgers six more times, and for the second thing. They are playing historically horrible.
Lucky for the Giants, one of the teams chasing them are the Cardinals, and the Cardinals are not exactly a safe bet to play well enough to even catch a team like the Giants. The Cardinals are 5-5 in their last ten games after being pounded by the Brewers tonight. The Cardinals have three more games with the Brewers, and then get to play the Cubs. Once they are done with the Cubs, they embark on a West Coast trip where they get to play the Giants head to head in a series that could decide who goes home first in October. If they are still in good shape after the Giant series, they have to go to Coors, and nobody wants to play the Rockies at home. At that point, they can breathe easy and finish the season at home against the Reds and Pirates.
The Mets are the one team in the Wild Card race that is playing very well. Buoyed by the return of Jose Reyes atop the lineup the Mets are 8 – 2 in their last 10 games and have climbed past the Cardinals and are sniffing right up the Giants wazoo. Over his last 100 at-bats, Reyes has a .862 OPS from the leadoff spot and has scored 21 times in those 24 games. The schedule also looks kindly toward the Mets. They start off this weekend at Atlanta, then head up to Washington. After that, they probably get the easiest paper matchups, as the Twins / Braves / Phillies (all lottery teams) play the Mets at home. The Mets end the season by playing Miami and Philly on the road. By that time Jose Fernandez will probably have been shut down unless the Marlins go on their own explicable run.
If I was handicapping this race I’d expect the Mets due to the schedule/pitching/lineup to end up at the top of the Wild Card race.
I’m having a harder time on picking between the Cardinals and Giants. The Cardinals have gotten great work from Gyorko and more recently Grichuk. Gyorko has hit 26 home runs in only 330 at-bats, a ridiculous hr/ab ratio for a middle infielder. Until you notice that Brandon Moss has 25 home runs in only 340 at-bats. But I’m not done. Randall Grichuk has 22 home runs in 359 at-bats. Are they playing in Coors? Grichuk was doing so poorly he was sent to AAA on two separate occasions this summer, but since returning on Aug 11th,he has an OPS of 1.066 with 10 home runs in 94 at-bats.
The Giants on the other hand still have a formidable rotation of Bumgarner/Cueto/Shark/Moore and a team that has Posey/Belt/Pence. If just doesn’t seem probable that they can be this bad for this long but they have been. Three weeks to turn it around and games against the Dodgers and Cardinals.
I’m not normally a fence sitter but as a baseball fan, I’m really looking forward to the Cardinal / Giant series later this month.
And if the Dodgers can knock them out of the postseason in that last series in SF so much the better. I just hope that when that last series comes around the Dodger lead is at least four games. Things look good right now for the Dodgers, but as baseball keeps reminding us: