Through 30 games of the shortened 60-game MLB regular season, the SF Giants aren’t looking half bad.
Here is something no SF Giants fan, or any baseball pundit for that matter, expected to hear during the 2020 season: the orange and black are in the playoff hunt.
With seven days to go until the MLB trade deadline, the squad holds a 14-16 record. Sure, they may be under .500, but if the season ended today the Giants would be in the new, expanded, MLB postseason in which the top two teams in each division adance to the postseason along with the two best remaining records.
The standings are as follows:
- Los Angeles Dodgers, NL West Champs – 22-8 (.733)
- Chicago Cubs, NL Central Champs – 17-10 (.630)
- Atlanta Braves, NL East Champs – 16-12 (.571)
- San Diego Padres -NL West 2nd – 18-12 (.600, 4.0 GB)
- St. Louis Cardinals -NL Central 2nd – 9-8 (.529, 6.5 GB)
- Miami Marlins – 11-11 NL East 2nd – (.500, 7.0 GB)
- San Francisco Giants – 14-16 (.467, 8.0 GB)
- Colorado Rockies – 13-15 (.464, 8.0 GB)
- New York Mets – 12-14 (.462, 8.0 GB)
Sure, there are many games to be played (even more to be made up in the case of the Cardinals and Marlins), but, if anything, this serves as a morale boost for Giants players and their fans. In what was labeled a rebuilding year, the team is at least looking at a chance to shock the MLB.
Whether or not the team finishes strong enough to play into October remains to be seen, but fans can consider this season a victory as the team is on track to beat ZiPS’ initial projection of 25 wins for the entire 60-game season.
But as it stands today, we are looking at a different team from the one we saw last week when it was reasonable to declare the Giants would not make the postseason.
How is that possible?
First off, as previously noted a winning streak like the six-gamer the Giants are currently riding are huge in this abbreviated season.
"For anyone who thinks it is crazy to imagine a (Giants) playoff run, look at the Colorado Rockies: they have shot their odds of making the playoffs up from 40.5 percent on Jul. 31 to 69.4 on Aug 10 with just one 7-3 span."
According to FanGraphs, San Francisco Giants have gone from a 3.3 percent chance at making the postseason to 31.8 percent in one week. The Giants have leap-frogged the Rockies in the National League West standings. That is how quickly things can change this season.
SF Giants Midseason Update: The Breakout Star
The MLB got a glimpse of his talents last season when he made his debut as a 28-year-old rookie. Now in 2020, there is zero sign of a sophomore slump as the outfielder has slashed his way to a .309/.429/.645 line with seven home runs and 23 RBI in just 133 plate appearances. Even in a shortened season, Yastrzemski is on pace to improve on 2019’s performance where he had a .272/.334/.518 line.
And how about that defense?
He hits, runs the base paths well, and covers the entire outfield. Yaz is the five-tool player all teams dream of having.
But Yastrzemski is just one example of the Giants’ young core stepping up to the plate.
SF Giants Midseason Update: The Top Prospect Arrival
Though Joey Bart is just four games into his MLB career, he has displayed a veteran approach at the plate. He has three doubles and no home runs to his name (yet), but the hits Bart has through 15 plate appearances have been emphatic.
Bart isn’t the only former prospect asserting himself. Logan Webb‘s two wins are tied for team-high while his 3.29 ERA is second only to 12-year veteran Trevor Cahill (1.29). Austin Slater had a .347 batting average and .458 on-base percentage which he used to amass a team-high six stolen bases before hitting the 10-day injured list. Caleb Baragar has allowed just one hit in his last four outings from the bullpen, and Sam Selman has been one of the most reliable relief options all season. The list of inexperienced talent contributing to the team’s success goes on.
SF Giants Midseason Update: Rebounding Veterans
Like Cahill, the veterans have come around as well. Just a week ago it was clear that Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were among the players who needed to begin producing for the Giants. Lo-and-behold, they have been since Aug. 16.
Belt has been scorching hot since, in his last eight games (six starts) he has hit .522 batting average with two home runs. Crawford has also a pair of home runs alongside a .308 average in that span. Evan Longoria is hitting a solid .321 as well.
It is not a far-out idea that the recent success from the Giants is what prompted their decision to move on from veteran outfielder Hunter Pence. Rather than need a veteran leader to mentor the young team, the clubhouse is looking for production in their playoff hunt now. Pence’s .096/.161/.250 line was not helping.
Now the question becomes what will the team do with the Aug. 31 trade deadline approaching? Will the front office remain aggressive and continue finding productive players after acquiring Daniel Robertson from the Tamba Bay Rays? Does that mean someone like Pablo Sandoval who has been relegated to a DH role joins Pence on waivers? Or do they sell pieces like Kevin Gausman?
These next few games against the rival Dodgers will play a role in answering those questions and shape the remainder of the season.
Obviously all of the aforementioned payers won’t stay as hot and reliable going forward, but if the SF Giants keep up some semblance of this current on-field performance, they will be knocking on the doors of the playoffs.