There are 40 games remaining on the schedule, 21 at home and 19 on the road. The news from last night about Dereck Rodriguez’s hamstring is a crushing blow, but it’s also just another crushing blow in a season full of crushing blows. It’s entirely possible the Giants figure out a way to weather this latest storm and in the interest of keeping this premise I started working on yesterday intact today, I’m going to figure that the Giants have enough talent to hold serve until he returns. Therefore, taking what we’ve seen and what we know about this team, let’s quickly (and foolishly) predict the final results of the season.
I’ll cite other sources, but in the meantime, I’m going to show you my dumb work.
What will their record be?
The Giants currently have a .567 winning percentage (34-26 record) at home and 21 home games remaining. Applying that percentage to the final 21 gives them 12 wins, 9 losses. Their road winning percentage is .435 (27-35 record). They have 19 road games remaining. Applying that percentage to those final 19 gives them 8 wins, 11 losses. That’s... uh... 12 + 8 = 20 and, um... 9 + 11 = 20... so... that’s uh... oh geez. 20-20. So, 81-81 to end the season.
This crude figuring is in line with FanGraphs’ playoff odds report which gives the Giants 80.8 projected wins and 81.2 projected losses.
Beyond that, the Giants’ 492 runs scored and 526 allowed gives them a Pythagorean W-L of 57-65, which means the Giants have 4 games’ worth of luck. Let’s figure that holds. What will being 4 wins better than their Pythagorean record at season’s end look like?
They’ve averaged just about 4 runs per game (before Belt’s injury it was 4.05, it’s 4.03 on the season now) all season, and since they didn’t make any additions at the deadline and it’s doubtful any September call-ups will have much impact (if they even choose to risk hitting the CBT threshold by adding guys not currently on the 40-man roster), let’s just assume that they are who they are and this is the status quo, offensively. 4 runs over 40 games is 160 runs. 160 + 492 = 652.
Same with the pitching. Only, let’s cheat a little bit here and sample it only from Madison Bumgarner’s return on June 5th. Most might say that’s when the pitching staff became as whole as it’s going to be this season (once it became clear Cueto and Samardzija were sunk costs). Since June 5th, they have a team ERA of 3.54, but they also have 18 unearned runs.
Let’s count that total (so, 243 runs allowed in 62 games) against them in projecting out the rest of the season — that’s 3.92 runs allowed per game. Now, that’s not totally unfair. Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez have never pitched this deep into the season, and the Giants are skipping a fifth starter’s spot whenever they can — the starting rotation is not impervious to a late-season slump or surprise injury. Who knows. Maybe Casey Kelly gives the Giants some decent innings and maybe Jeff Samardzija returns and makes a positive contribution, but the likelihood here is worse performance over the final two months.
Let’s crank that up to a solid 4 runs allowed per game. 160 + 526 = 686.
The Pythagorean Win Formula is Runs Scored^2/(Runs Scored^2 + Runs Allowed^2)... which calculates to a .475 winning percentage. That gives the Giants 77 wins over 162. But what about that 4 games of luck they’ve run with all year? Add that in, and they’re up to... 81.
Who will be the best hitter?
Brandon Belt has played in 29 fewer games than Brandon Crawford and they’re tied for fWAR at 2.7. Five hitters have played in more games than Brandon Belt, and yet none of them can match him in wOBA and despite missing a big chunk of the season, he still leads the team in home runs.
However, since having his appendix removed, he’s posted a .676 OPS in 143 plate appearances. It was .950 in his 223 plate appearances before the surgery. It’s no guarantee he will still be the best hitter by season’s end, but outside of Andrew McCutchen, there’s not a single hitter who’s done anything to suggest a long, sustained run is even possible. The ZiPS projections for the rest of the Brandons season gives Crawford the slight edge (0.9 fWAR to Belt’s 0.8), but I think all his time off means Belt has one more run in him.
Who will be the best pitcher?
Dereck Rodriguez might go out on top. His hamstring strain could be a mic drop and we’ll be left wondering what might’ve been over these final 40 if he hadn’t been injured. I think that’s a positive, not a negative. He’s had such a surprising, strong season that it almost seems sacrosanct to try to rush him back for the team’s sake and besmirch the player’s beautiful season line.
Will it have all been worth it?
That all depends on who’s asking the question. If you’re someone who doesn’t watch a baseball game to see who wins or follows a team all year long to see how their season ends, then it will always be worth it.
If you’re someone who would like and appreciate seeing the Giants succeed more than fail but ultimately just want to watch baseball instead of living in a world where you’re not watching baseball, then it will still be worth it.
If you’re someone who watches because of specific players, then I fear that it might not be worth it. Maybe just 55% worth it. 40 games is plenty of time for more random injuries and DL time. No, I don’t want players to get hurt, but there are fans who just watch for specific players and given everything we’ve seen this season, no player is safe from the disabled list.
And for those who watch mainly because they want to see their team competing in the postseason and have a shot at the World Series as often as possible, this will still be worth it because every game is a data point for use in offseason tirades about the Giants making Brian Dozier their big offseason “get” for the offense while stocking the rotation with above market rate starting pitchers who may or may not perform or stay healthy.
You get to say you stuck it out through this stealth rebuild and were critical of every move along the way. It’ll be worth it for the spite.
It’s baseball. It’ll always be worth it.