The Giants are 1½ games ahead of the Twins in the race for the worst second-half record in baseball. This is not a good race. There’s a chance, a strong chance, that the Giants can be the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to have the best record in baseball for the first half and the worst record in the second half.
Heck, I’m almost proud of that. If you have the choice between slowly choking on a carbon monoxide leak or going full Alderaan, you have to choose the latter, right?
At the same time, I’m not quite sure how to put this, but the Giants still have a chance to make the postseason. Not just a slight chance. A very, very real chance.
Disclaimer: If you’re worried about this being a jinx, yeah, I’m the problem with the Giants in the second half. Got me. Guilty as charged. Now back off, or I’ll predict great things for you, too.
According to the abacus twiddlers at Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs, the Giants are in fine shape to at least play in the Wild Card Game. A look at the odds:
Odds to make the postseason at all
What those odds are roughly equivalent to: The odds of Jake Peavy not reaching base in any particular plate appearance.
That is, take Peavy’s 31 plate appearances this year. When he makes an out, that’s about the same as the Giants making at least a wild card appearance. When he gets a hit or a walk, that’s about as rare as the Giants missing the postseason. That's just for this season, but it still applies for his career stats if you're partial to the FanGraphs odds.
The odds are statistically based, and they don’t include factors like "the Giants playing like absolute buffoons" and other technical details, but that’s probably a good thing. We hate the Giants right now because we have to watch them, but they probably aren’t this bad. The formulas and spreadsheets haven’t had to watch this unwatchable joy-prison night after night after night, so they don’t care. They’re just looking at a 1½-game advantage over the Mets with 24 games left, with 13 games remaining against under-.500 teams, and they’re liking the Giants’ odds.
Your mileage may vary. And it’s worth having a debate about whether the Wild Card Game is really making the postseason, or if it’s just like the fake party in Brain Candy for the dorks, while the actual important people are having fun in another part of the estate. Some people don’t even think the Giants should bother with Wild Card Games at all. Not when they’re playing like jagweeds.
Actually, that argument appeals to me a lot more right now.
Odds to win the division
Baseball Prospectus: 11.5 percent
FanGraphs: 11.4 percent
What those odds are roughly equivalent to: Buster Posey taking a walk in any of his plate appearances. It’s not the likeliest outcome, no. But would it surprise you? Do you shriek, "A walk?!? But there was just an 11-percent chance of that happening!" You do not.
A Giants division title would be just a little more surprising than that. Just a little. Okay, a lot. They’re not winning the division. All is lost. All is lost.
Except do you know where the Giants were 24 games ago? In first place. Playing like buffoon-jagweeds, unless they were playing like jagweed-buffoons, but they were in first place. A lot can happen in three weeks. And they happen to have six games left against the Dodgers. Six, calm, stress-free games.
Odds to win the World Series
Baseball Prospectus: 2.4 percent
FanGraphs: 3.8 percent
What those odds are roughly equivalent to: That a random major league player will hit a home run in any given at-bat.
Try it out the next time you watch a game. When every batter stands in the box, say to yourself, "If he hits a home run right here, the Giants will win the World Series." All sorts of things will happen. Pop-ups, doubles, strikeouts, errors, and all of them represent the Giants not winning the World Series. The dream of the even year is dead.
But when one of those players hits a homer, that’s you getting to say, "The Giants are gonna do it! They’re gonna be world’s champions again! They’re gonna do it!" It’s completely realistic, even if it’s extraordinarily unlikely at the same time.
Of course, there will be one home run on Wednesday night, and it’ll be a Rockies homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, so maybe you should skip to the next game instead.
But the league-average home run rate is 2.9 percent this year. That’s about the same as the Giants’ odds of winning the World Series. Somehow. Even though they’re apparently terrible now and can’t win unless they get bleeders, infield hits, and misplays from Nolan Arenado.
I don’t know if these odds make me feel better or worse. Probably worse, considering what they looked like at the end of the first half. They sure are odds, though. And they suggest the Giants still have a better shot to make the postseason than 22 out of the other 29 teams in baseball. What a world.