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Can the Giants take advantage of a favorable schedule?

They’re done with the Marlins for the year and don’t have to go back to Coors Field until September — is this their best chance to make a run?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks
mfw I see the Giants’ road record
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

My esteemed colleague and the site’s minor league Maester, Roger Munter, sent me this message earlier in the week:

I think at end of Colorado series you might want to do something on the Giants’ schedule. It’s really pretty incredible -- they go the next six weeks without ever traveling further away than Seattle or Arizona. Aug 17 in Cincinnati is the next time they leave their timezone and the vast majority of that time is going to be spent at home. It’s a Time to Make Hay schedule!

Roger’s right about that schedule. The next 34 games for the Giants will be in either California, Washington, or Arizona. 14 of the next 21 will be at home, too, and 3 of the 7 remaining road games this month (which includes 4 days off for the All-Star Game) will be virtual home games in Oakland.

4 against St. Louis (SERIES PREVIEW HERE), 3 against the Cubs, 3 against Oakland, followed by 3 at Oakland, 2 at Seattle, 4 back at AT&T against Milwaukee, and 2 at San Diego to end July. August opens with 4 in Arizona, then 2 against Houston at home, four at home against Pittsburgh, and then 3 in LA before flying out to Cincinnati.

I predicted a split against St. Louis, figure the Cubs to take 2 of 3, a 3-3 split against Oakland (because that’s how the series usually goes), Seattle swipes both games, a split against Milwaukee, and a split against San Diego. That’s 9-13 to finish the month, good for a 54-56 record at the trade deadline. But maybe I’m being too pessimistic.

Which means Roger’s also right about making hay. The Giants really could stand to do it over these next 34 games. Problem is, it’ll be tough for them to make said hay because 1) they’re not very good on the road and b) they’re really bad on the road.

The Giants have won 19 of 48 games on the road this season, a .396 winning percentage. With Bumgarner back to form and Cueto around for at least a couple of starts (elbow willing), let’s round up and say the Giants win 40% of their 33 remaining road games. So, 13 more, to give them a final road record of 32-49.

“But, Bryan, you big dumb idiot, what if the Giants are as good as they were in 2015? That team went 84-78, moron.” Hmm, okay. I can see your point. That team won 37 on the road and only 47 at AT&T Park (58%), but what if this year’s team keeps up its home winning rate (65%) over their final 41 home games? Yeah, okay, then they could still hit that 84-78 mark despite the road record. Does that mean postseason glory will follow?

In the AT&T Park era, the Giants have had a winning road record in all their playoff appearances and simply winning seasons (the exception being the aforementioned 37-44 road mark in 2015). In the entire history of the franchise — from New York Gothams to SF Giants — spanning back to 1883, here are the three teams that have made it to the postseason without a winning road record:

1971: 39-42
1989: 39-42
1998: 40-42

I’m including that one game playoff/play-in season juuuuust to make it clear: when the Giants have been good, they’ve been good on the road, and when they’ve been bad, they’ve been bad on the road.

I still wouldn’t blame you if you had hope. It’s a different era. Anything can happen. They have Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and two Brandons. And if I revise my bummer prediction of 9-13 for the remainder of July using just the current home/road winning percentages, then they hit the deadline 57-52. It’s not impossible. Right?

Here’s a list of the playoff teams since the turn of the century with a sub-.500 road record:

2000 * New York Mets: 39-42
2001 * St. Louis Cardinals: 39-42
2003 * Oakland A’s: 39-42
2005 * San Diego Padres: 36-45 (82-80 division winner)
2005 * Houston Astros: 36-45 (53-28 at home)
2006 * St. Louis Cardinals: 34-47 (83-78 division winner)
2006 * Los Angeles Dodgers: 39-42
2007 * Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 40-41
2007 * Colorado Rockies: 39-42
2007 * Arizona Diamondbacks: 40-41
2008 * Tampa Bay Rays: 40-41 (57-34 at home)
2008 * Boston Red Sox: 39-42 (56-25 at home)
2008 * Chicago White Sox: 35-46 (54-28 at home)
2008 * Minnesota Twins: 35-47 (lost 1-game play-in to White Sox)
2008 * Los Angeles Dodgers: 36-45 (84-78 division winner)
2009 * Boston Red Sox: 39-42
2009 * Minnesota Twins: 38-43
2009 * Detroit Tigers: 35-47 (lost 1-game play-in to Twins)
2010 * Texas Rangers: 39-42
2010 * Atlanta Braves: 35-46
2011 * Milwaukee Brewers 39-42 (57-24 at home)
2012 * Detroit Tigers: 38-43
2012 * St. Louis Cardinals: 38-43
2013 * Atlanta Braves: 40-41
2014 * Oakland A’s: 40-41
2014 * St. Louis Cardinals: 39-42
2014 * Pittsburgh Pirates: 37-44
2015 * Houston Astros: 33-48 (53-28 at home)
2015 * Toronto Blue Jays: 40-41
2015 * Los Angeles Dodgers: 37-44 (55-26 at home)
2016 * Toronto Blue Jays: 38-43
2016 * Baltimore Orioles: 39-42
2016 * Los Angeles Dodgers: 38-43
2017 * New York Yankees: 40-41

Some thoughts on this list:

  • If you didn’t have a winning record on the road, the Giants got you good.
  • Banking on the NL West to be as bad or close as it was 2005-2008 seems foolhardy. The Dodgers are taking off (35-23 since May 1st), the Diamondbacks have strong enough pitching to keep themselves in position for a while, and the Giants still have to play the Padres and Rockies a combined 18 times.
  • The 2000 Mets, 2005 Astros, and 2008 Rays made it to the World Series. The 2006 Cardinals Ecksteined their way to a World Championship.
  • There have been 159 playoff teams (including the 2 teams that competed and lost in a Game 163 and 1 that competed and lost in the Wildcard tiebreaker) since 2000 (which, don’t argue with me nerds, is the turn of the century for these purposes) and only 34 of those teams have gotten in with a sub-.500 road record (~21%).

The current combined record of the teams the Giants will face over the next 34 games is 55% (476-388). When the Giants woke up in Denver on Monday, FanGraphs had their playoff odds at 23.4%. After getting swept at Coors, it’s down to 12%.

The Giants probably won’t make the playoffs this year, and that’s okay! There’s still plenty to like about this team. For starters, this season it’s possible to make it through an entire game without wanting to find a new hobby. That’s a stark improvement over last season!

But it’s not just the overall quality of competition, it’s the individuals competing who are worth watching for next year and beyond. I want to see if Andrew Suárez can keep it up. I want to find out if the Alen Hanson Project will be completed or canceled. And I promise you, we’ll get to the bottom of those tattoos on Dereck Rodriguez’s forearm.