San Francisco Giants: Do Numbers Favor Their Playoff Hopes?


Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants season has had many peaks and valleys, but the last month of series have been pretty telling.

[table id=53 /] A lot has been made about the Giants success at home and their comparative success on the road. While that appears to be accurate based on the results above, something else jumps out at me. The Giants do fine against the bad teams but struggle against the good ones.

They are 2-8 (.200 WP) against the teams with winning records, and 11-5 (.6875 WP) against teams with losing records over the last 26 games.

If you’re anything like me, you probably are thinking about scrambling to your nearest schedule to see just who’s left. I’ve got you covered. [table id=54 /]* The Giants and Rockies have to finish a game from May in Colorado during their September Series.

So counting that unfinished game against the Rockies and today’s game against the Mets, the Giants have 51 games remaining and the majority of them come against favorable opponents.

But before we crunch those numbers, let’s detour for a moment and figure out what the Giants will likely need.

The current Wild Card format was adopted in 2012, giving us only two years of history to draw from. But baseball went to an unbalanced schedule in 2001 so if we start there, we can get a pretty good idea as to what, on average, teams needed to do to earn at least one of the two Wild Card spots available in the current format.

What would have been necessary to make at least the Wild Card Game under the current format?

[table id=55 /]*The official finishing records of the two Wild Card teams in 2007 were 90-73 and 89-74. Both teams however finished the first 162 games 89-73, creating the same game that the rules call for now.

In 2001, 2004, and 2009, the second Wild Card team would have been the Giants. If only the current rules were in place then. I digress.

Do those numbers jive with the current numbers, or is this an anomaly season?

[table id=56 /]

Actually, under all three averages. This may be a year where fewer wins than normal are needed to make the playoffs, and that is not a bad thing.

Now, what about the remaining schedule?

We’ll start here: The Giants need to beat up on the bad teams.

The biggest advantage they have over any Wild Card fellow challenger is that the NL West’s bottom three have long been out of contention and with stars like Troy Tulowitzki, Paul Goldschmidt, and possibly Carlos Gonzalez on the DL, they don’t look to be getting much better.

Since September is mostly divisional opponents, they’ll have more chances than most potential Wild Card foes to beat up on the bad teams. Now, I’m not conceding the division to the Dodgers just yet, but remember that they have the same breaks with the schedule. The NL West crown will likely be decided over the six remaining games between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If we include the postponed game in Colorado, the Giants have 30 more games against teams with losing records. If San Francisco averages a series win against those teams, that’s a 20-10 record. Even against bad teams, that’s a good mark, but it would actually be a slight drop compared to what they’ve done over the last month.

But 20-10 only gets the Giants to 80 wins. That’s not going to do it. What about the rest?

To get to the 87-89 win range from there, the Giants will need to at least stay above water against the contending teams. What does “stay above water” mean? Hard to tell, but they definitely need to do better than they have against the A’s, Dodgers, and Pirates over the last month. That kind of run will translate to something like 4-17 or 5-16 in those 21 games. If that happens, they’ll need to go roughly 25-5 against the bad teams, and that’s a bit too optimistic for my taste.

But if they can do something like 8-13 against the good teams and 20-10 against the bad, that’s an 88-74 record, which will probably at least get the Giants into the Wild Card Game. Mind you, 8-13 is hardly a good stretch, but with the return of Angel Pagan hopefully days away and Brandon Belt already hitting well, it shouldn’t be impossible.

Now, the Wild Card is not ideal, but the first goal is getting into the playoffs. Once that happens, you’ll need some luck to go on a deep run, but it’s not impossible. Granted, even if the Giants do make the playoffs, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll enter as the favorites to keep their even-numbered year mojo working and really, they don’t deserve to be the favorites.

I certainly won’t say that it’s easy to be optimistic. Generally speaking, I’ve been pretty pessimistic myself about how good the Giants actually are. But when I look at the MLB Standings on ESPN and see that the Giants playoff odds are slightly better than 70 %, I really can’t argue too much. The MLB playoffs should include the San Francisco Giants this year.

Will they get more than one game total? Will they get any games at  AT&T Park? Do they even want any games at AT&T Park? Those are separate issues.

But when you break the numbers down, the San Francisco Giants should be one of the 10 teams in the postseason playing for the World Series.