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This year’s turning points

The Giants’ season was clearly split into two parts: Before Yaz and After Yaz.

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Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

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The last FanPulse survey asked voters a simple question:

So, let it never be said that FanPulse voters have no power. This collective energy working against the Dodgers clearly led to Dave Roberts’ poor decisions late in game five. That’s the only logical conclusion that can be drawn here.

That was a turning point in the Dodgers’ season and even their offseason, just as much as it was one for the Washington Nationals as they headed off into the uncharted territory of a championship series (more on them later). All year long, Giants FanPulse voters were asked about their confidence in the team’s direction, and in the last survey of the regular season, the entire graph was complete:

Obvious here are the turning points throughout the Giants’ season. The bigwigs at SB Nation’s national office asked team sites to look at the graph and find the three key turning points of the season. Here’s what I came up with:

The lowest point of the season happened to coincide with Mike Yastrzemski’s callup on May 25th. They had lost four of five and were 21-29 overall. They would lose four of their next five games following Yastrzemski’s call-up. Voter confidence fell to what would be the season low of 27%.

The other big turning point would be the miraculous June-July run that took the squad from Full Tank to Half Tank and made the price for acquiring Madison Bumgarner and/or Will Smith in order to get past the Yankees or overtake the Cardinals too much to bear for the Twins and Brewers.

The peak of the run saw an 88% approval rating for the Giants, maintaining it for nearly a three week stretch, before it all came crashing back down to Earth as the Giants dropped out of the race. It all fell apart between August 18-September 5th, a stretch of 16 games that saw them go 4-12.

There was that disappointing finale in Arizona where the couldn’t complete the road sweep; the sweep by the Cubs in Chicago; the sweep of the A’s in Oakland that sustained Farhan Zaidi’s belief in the team (per his season-ending press conference) that was followed by just two wins in the next 10 games, and that was the end of hope.

The ascent from pre-Yastrzemski to peak July run included a lot of success stories: Alex Dickerson’s arrival, Donovan Solano’s utility, a six-start stretch by Tyler Beede wherein he posted a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings and the Giants went 5-1 in those starts; Madison Bumgarner looked great; the bullpen was dominant.

It was a year of a peak within a large valley. But hey, at least we saw that peak.

The FanPulse polling continues even without the Giants in the postseason (sign up now!), and this week, voters were given to questions to answer:

Frankly, these results are shocking. You would think the Cardinals and Yankees would be a lot closer, even if there are a bunch of Cardinals fan voters going against the Yankees. The low results for the Astros and Nationals fan bases figures to be at least one reason why the answer in the next poll question skewed so heavily in one direction:

Doug proposed here that we should all be rooting for the Nationals. In that case, it doesn’t matter who they’re up against. I’m not sure I 100% agree with the voters here. Yankees-Nationals would be a good series because if the Nationals were to win it then it would mean they beat the Yankees in the World Series. That’s always a good thing.

The Nationals-Astros matchup has the potential for Old School vs. New School context and I’m not for that. I don’t think the Nationals represent some sort of ancient scouting practices that nobody employs anymore. They just have an older front office with an older mind set. But they are at least a league average analytics office. Plus, if that does wind up being the matchup and Old School vs. New School does become the narrative, then I’ll be forced to root very hard for the Astros so that the argument of Old School vs. New School can die forever, with New School having won easily.

That’s not because I despise analytics, it’s because I despise people who get geeked up for this battle. Numbers have always been a part of the game. The loudest, angriest voices railing against it are the people who don’t understand it, so they wrap their fear in callous disregard and proud ignorance. Tough guy talk by small people. The Astros are good because of a fusion of algorithms and on the ground scouting. So are the Nationals.

Anyway, here were some numbers.