Okay, the headline is written. Now I just have to figure out the opening, supporting paragraphs, general ideas, and ending. Should be a piece of cake. Here are all the reasons I'm glad that the Giants are going to miss the postseason this year.
- Well, you see, uh, it's like this.
- You know.
- I guess I'll see my family more and stuff, they seem nice.
- I'll be filled with choking rage during the Dodgers/Cardinals NLCS, but that's still probably healthier than the general stress of a deep postseason run.
- And so forth.
- Ugh, those championship jerseys and hats are so expensive.
- You know.
It appears that this idea doesn't have as much juice as I might have hoped. However! There is a true silver lining, an actual tasty grape that fell from the ones that are probably sour. Madison Bumgarner isn't going to handle an insane workload again this year.
Madison Bumgarner won't have to handle an insane workload again this year.
Ahhhh, see? A silver lining. To the Giants' credit, they've been pretty easy on Bumgarner this year, at least compared to other ace-types around baseball. His season-high in pitches is 116, even though he's thrown at least six innings in 23 of his 28 starts. I'm not sure if the reasonable workload is a directive from up high, a conscious decision in response to last year's wacky season, or if it sort of happened organically through Bumgarner's efficiency and general awesomeness.
Over at Baseball Prospectus, they keep track of something called pitcher-abuse points, and even though it wasn't exactly the industry-revolutionizing data that some baseball nerds (including me) hoped it would be when it was introduced, the raw data still gives a nice snapshot of which pitchers are consistently having the most laborious outings.
Even though Bumgarner has thrown the eighth-most innings in baseball, here's where he ranks with various PAP metrics:
Max. number of pitches in a single game: 50th
Average number of pitches per game: 13th
Average number of pitcher-abuse points per game: 48th
Number of starts between 110-121 pitches: 19th
Stress (abuse points divided by number of pitches): 48th
The Giants have managed him well, possibly looking toward another potential postseason run. Pitchers who rank highly in these categories aren't necessarily going to burst into flames, but the correlation between workload and bad things at least seems logical. And if the Giants made the postseason, they wouldn't have had much of a choice but to retry the winning formula of "Hey, do everything, Madison." Now Bumgarner can just ... I don't know ... carry oxen around the house instead, or whatever he does at home that's similarly relaxing.
Only 78 pitchers in baseball history have thrown more than 1,100 innings in the majors before turning 26 (not including postseason innings). It's a list of Hall of Famers, All-Stars, and early burnouts, and it's presented to you as a list of names without a conclusion, mostly to point out that Bumgarner's workload at his age is kind of rare, even when measured against young pitchers from the bullpen-light '30s, '40s, and '50s. He looks like the strongest pitcher in the world, but so did a lot of those other folks.
Which is all to say that even if I would prefer Bumgarner pitching in Game 7 of another World Series, a side benefit of the Giants' regrettable injury mess this season is that it might have helped one of their most important players stay healthy. This all applies to Buster Posey, too, considering that he won't have to get in the squaaat nearly as much. I'll never forget him collapsing on the field during the 2014 World Series celebration, looking like a man about to sleep for three weeks straight.
It's an extra month off for pitchers under contract for next year, too, like Jake Peavy, Chris Heston, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla. While the Dodgers are beating their heads against the wall, the Giants will have their feet propped up as they drink cocktails with little umbrellas in them. Ha ha, look at those fools. And do you know how much Dodgers fans will have to pay for postseason tickets? Like, a ton. Pfft, look at all this extra money we have. We should be celebrating, really.
Before the season started, I was legitimately worried about the effects of another lengthy postseason run on Bumgarner's health. It wasn't an issue to freak out over, but in the back of my head, I kept wondering what another 260-inning season would have done to Bumgarner's stamina and general well-being. Looks like it's a non-issue now, and even though it stinks that it happened like this, the silver lining does make me feel better, if just a little.
A very, very trace amount.
Like, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
But still there!