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The Giants and runners in scoring position ... again

The Giants should be bad. But not this bad.

Victor Decolongon

Oh, this cynicism is so familiar, so comfortable. Even after all the success, the month-long stretches of everything going right at the perfect moment, it's so easy to expect the worst. It took a bad month-and-a-half. Write that down, sociologists. It takes a bad month-and-half for everyone to run around like they got Tabasco in their eyes.

I feel like I'm a musician performing songs from the heroin-fueled album that got me signed in the first place. The new stuff did well on radio, but these … these are my roots. Even if it feels phony to play up the torment as if nothing has changed.

The Giants have been … hold on, lemme check the thesaurus … bad. If there was a worst-case scenario that didn't involve a catastrophic injury, the team blew past it last week. So back on go the old slippers of cynicism. This funky, foul-smelling, cushy slippers of cynicism. Welcome back, bad Giants. It's like you never left. Which is weird. Isn't that weird?

Except here's a little secret that makes it a little harder to go full cynic: The Giants shouldn't be this bad.

Baseball Prospectus has a standings page of their own, and it lists different kinds of standings. First, they list the actual standings:

1. Diamondbacks, 48-44
2. Dodgers, 46-45
3. Rockies, 44-49
4. Giants, 41-50
5. Padres, 41-52

That's no fun. Thanks, reality. Next to that, they list the hypothetical standings based on runs scored/runs allowed:

1. Rockies, 46-47
2. Diamondbacks, 47-45
3. Dodgers, 44-47
4. Giants, 40-51
5. Padres, 41-52

Well, that's even worse. Though the Giants would be a little closer to first, I guess. But next to that, there are hypothetical standings based on the runs each team should have scored and allowed. As in, if the Giants have 821 hits this year, and 170 doubles, 17 triples, et cetera, how many runs would they be expected to score? There are ways to estimate that. And according to the estimates:

1. Rockies, 48-45
2. Dodgers, 47-44
3. Giants, 44-47
4. Diamondbacks, 44-48
5. Padres, 40-53

The Giants aren't exactly good in this scenario, but they haven't been left in the dust yet. An extra three wins makes a big difference. And the third-order winning percentage, where the stats are put into a blender and adjusted for quality of opponent, here are the standings:

1. Dodgers, 45-46
2. Giants, 45-46
3. Rockies, 45-48
4. Diamondbacks, 44-48
5. Padres, 40-53

So if you're living in a computer, Lawnmower Man, everything's cool. Just another chapter in the storied rivalry, even if it's more of a slap fight this time. But we're not in a computer, and the current standings smell like feet. That must be really confusing to people who have a fetish.

But the whole point isn't to point to the simulated standings and say "This is how it should be," but to point out the reason for the Giants' better showing in fantasy world. The Giants aren't this bad offensively. They're just getting their hits in the wrong order. Since the start of June, the Giants are 63-for-304 with runners in scoring position. That's a .207 average over 37 games. And it's not portioned out equitably, either.

.000 average: 10 games
.001 to .100: four games
.101 to .200: eight games
.201 to .250: six games
.251 to .300: three games
.301 to .350: four games
.350 to .500: six games

And of those six games where they hit from .350 to .500 with runners in scoring position? They lost three of them. Because when you get two runners in scoring position and hit one in, you aren't exactly doing well.

Here's the solution: Wear it. There is no solution, no secret. We've been through this before, you and I. When the Giants were 0-for-123,871,423 with RISP in the first half last year, the McCC line was "bad luck." Oh, man, did that tick some people off. I got e-mails from people who told me how dumb I was -- some nice, some not. A couple of them went into you-never-played-da-game territory, and there were lectures about bat-squeezing and clubhouse tension and LOOKING INTO A TEAMMATE'S EYES AND SEEING FEAR and stuff.

Then that team clutch-hit their way to a World Series win.

This is, like, the same exact team, except with Yasiel Tanaka. So if clutch-hitting is a skill that players possess, how is it that the same team can be dreadful before they're good enough to win the World Series before they're dreadful again? Don't answer that. It's a rhetorical question. You can come up with all the gritty gutty goopy explanations you want. I'm sticking with poor timing. Which you can't fix. You just have to hope.

It's not like the Giants should be 60-35 right now. They are probably three or four games worse than they should be, if that. But those three or four games would have saved us a lot of hair over the past month. Maybe the Giants would be … in this thing?

(It's probably better, then. Sell, sell, sell! But it's still frustrating. The Giants might be bad. But they shouldn't be this bad.)