This is not an article saying that the Giants are back. I would neither be so presumptuous to claim I know the future, nor would I tempt the wrath of the baseball gods, who I so angered last year any time I suggested any reliever might be good. But it’s impossible to ignore that after the Giants opened the season by playing baseball like a dumb baseball team full of dummies, they have since improved to the very impressive level of “major league baseball team.”
Or have they? Yes, they sure seem like a different team since beating the Reds in 17 innings at AT&T Park, but can a season be delineated so easily? Can you really point to one game and say, There, that’s where it all started? Doesn’t that seem more like a convenient narrative imposed by flawed observers in the heat of the moment whose desire for the team they like to be good outweighed all other considerations? In short, isn’t it more likely that the Giants are the awful team they were for a month and a half than that they are the good team they’ve been for a week and a half?
On the one hand, it’s easy to argue that this team isn’t the one that started the season because in many ways they are literally not the same team. Jarrett Parker and Chris Marrero are gone. Christian Arroyo is playing third. Josh Osich is not only in the bullpen, but often throwing the baseball through the area that pitchers are supposed to throw the ball through in order for umpires to grunt in a way that sounds vaguely like “Strike.” Justin Ruggiano is a backup center fielder who is physically capable of hitting a baseball hard at all ever. Guys who have underperformed are on the DL and therefore not currently underperforming in the majors.
Then you add into that that some players who never should have looked like a buncha neifis have stopped looking so much like neifis. Eduardo Nuñez has been hitting well enough recently to get his fWAR up to 0.0 for the year, and while that’s certainly not the best case scenario, he was sitting at -0.5 just a couple weeks ago, so 0.0 is actually, amazingly, improbably a big step forward. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt have both stepped up their home run games, Jeff Samardzija has started pitching like the guy FIP says he should be, and Matt Moore has, from time to time, not been a trainwreck.
But on the other hand, what about all that time when the Giants were bad? That’s part of their talent level too. It wasn’t just Marrero and Drew Stubbs who dropped the Giants team OBP to .290. It was everybody coming together to just not do a whole heck of a lot offensively. That’s still there. That’s still possible. Nuñez could go into another massive slump. Joe Panik could just maintain his 88 wRC+ instead of improving on it. Hunter Pence could continue to be as bad as he’s been all year. Denard Span could be too injury prone to be a consistent contributor. The Giants could just continue to be what Fangraphs says they’ve been all year: the worst offensive team in baseball.
This goes for the pitching too, though less so. As a team, the Giants have been dramatically underperforming their FIP, but only barely underperforming their xFIP, so you could make a strong argument that they haven’t really been that unlucky. Yes, Samardzija is owed some correction between his FIP and ERA, but last year around this time he was pitching like an All-Star, and then a week later he suddenly stopped doing that for two months, which with Jeff Samardzija is always a possibility. Matt Cain, Ty Blach, and Josh Osich could turn into the consistent disasters that xFIP thinks they are, somebody in the rotation could get hurt, necessitating a call up of someone in AAA who shouldn’t be in the majors (apologies to Tyler Beede, but he’s going five and a half innings per start and not really striking anyone out, so he’s not ready yet), and all in all, they could just be worse. They could always just be worse. That’s never off the table.
So who do you think they’re going to be? Will they be a major league caliber team, going at least .500 over the last 116 games this year? Or will they be a bad team and play badly and make you question your very, very poor life choices?
How will the Giants fare for the rest of 2017?
This poll is closed
They will be an okay to good team
They will be a bad to very bad team
I demand a wait and see option even though it’s contrary to the entire purpose of this poll, which is to gauge my opinion right now and not to establish an unyielding truth about the universe