The purpose of this article is twofold. The first goal is to impress upon you just how rare an eight-game lead is for the Giants since they’ve moved to San Francisco. Not just in June, or not just before the All-Star break. Ever.
The second goal is to make you look around, nervously, like a camper hearing a twig snap in the middle of the night, desperate for closure, knowing that you’re probably fine but also knowing all the different what-ifs that can ruin you. This worrying is your duty as a sports fan.
The Giants have an eight-game lead over the Dodgers. That translates into a 75-percent chance of winning the division according to both Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs. That’s based in part on preseason projections for all the players, though, so if you use just 2016 stats, the Giants’ odds improve even more.
And yet you know better than to celebrate. You’re terrified. The higher the cliff, the farther there is to fall when your ACME-brand products fail. You’ve seen these tumbles of hubris before, and they’re not pretty.
Great, now I’m all twitchy.
Anyway, here’s the data. It’s a table of the biggest lead the Giants have had in every season since moving to San Francisco, the latest date they held that lead, and their eventual finish:
|Season||Biggest lead||Date of biggest lead||Eventual finish|
You’ve already picked out the two seasons of large-lead doom. The 1993 Giants lost a 10-game lead, but it’s worse than that. They had an 8½-game lead — that is, bigger than the current lead — on August 13th. The 2014 Giants lost their 10-game lead in less than a month, a miserable stretch from June 8 to July 3.
And then they won the World Series. Just imagine how proud Dodgers fans must be when they look at that DIVISION CHAMPS banner, though.
Anyway! This isn’t supposed to be a table that reminds you only of the happy finishes and the sad finishes. It’s also a table to point out that it’s extremely rare for the Giants to have an eight-game lead. At any point during any season. A list of seasons in which the Giants had a lead this large at any point:
That’s it. Seven teams. Five of them won the division, one of them still made the postseason after collapsing, and the other one comically happened the season before the wild card was introduced. How many teams in San Francisco history had a lead this big before the 77th game of the season?
And that’s just perfect. Two teams that finished in second, and one that won the division by a single freaking game.
Long story short: The Giants haven’t been here very often, but don’t get too comfortable. History suggests that when the Giants get a lead this big, this early, they make you pull your hair out before the season is over.
That written, though, it sure beats being eight games down. If the Dodgers could just lose and lose and lose for the next two months, I think that would make all of us feel a whole lot better.