Last week, Giants fan confidence was at 34%, the fourth-worst in MLB. After another week, fan confidence has fallen to 33%, which is now the second-worst after the Nationals and Mets fan bases tied for 13% confidence in the team’s direction and Cleveland and Pittsburgh’s voters switched their confidence in large numbers (+25% and +21%, respectively).
The Reds have really done a number on Giants FanPulse voters.
Look, 21-26 is not great, and the team was 18-25 as late as last Friday, and they have one of the worst starting rotations in baseball, one of the worst offenses in baseball, and are hemorrhaging ticket sales, but... wait. I, uh, lost my train of though there.
The Giants are spectacularly bad. I get it. But they’ve also been that way for nearly three years now. That’s right. We’re coming up on the three-year anniversary of the second half of the 2016 season, the moment when this whole dynastic collapse began. It has been one long, slow train wreck ever since, and it’s no wonder people are fed up with it.
But what does it mean to have confidence in the team’s direction? Are voters pondering just the rest of the season? The Giants might not lose 100 games, but like last year and the year before, it sure as hell will feel like they did. If that’s the angle, I can respect the low confidence.
Have voters taken into consideration what we’ve long known but what Dan Szymborski on FanGraphs and 538 are just stumbling onto with their articles this week: the Giants’ dynasty is well and truly over?
However they got here, 2019 is already essentially a lost cause. The Giants are tied with the Rockies for the second-worst record in the National League (for a team that’s actually trying to compete — apologies Marlins), and the aging roster has less upside than that of any team in the NL West. The ZiPS projected standings as of Monday morning paint a bleak picture of the division, at least as far as San Francisco is concerned.
Yeah, Dan. We know. Got it. Have known this since before the season started.
As much as the failure of recent big-name acquisitions to recapture their former glory has hurt the Giants, another big factor has been the failure of the team’s homegrown core to age gracefully — and the lack of anything in the pipeline behind it. Although Crawford can still make the occasional spectacular play, he is down from a 5-win player in 2016 to a subreplacement one now, and he’ll make $15.2 million each of the next two seasons after 2019. Belt was worth 4.2 WAR in 2016; now he’s on pace for a more middling 2.2 WAR in 2019 despite his $17.2 million salary, which also repeats in 2020 and 2021. Duffy fell off in 2016 and was traded for Matt Moore, who was miserable for the Giants in 2017 and was himself dealt for peanuts.
Even with Bumgarner healthy, the Giants have the league’s worst starting rotation according to WAR. And recent drafts have produced little of note. The farm system ranked 26th in Keith Law’s preseason rankings. Things suddenly look dire again.
Oh yeah, Neil Paine of 538, that’s the stuff. Inject it right into my veins. And also, yeah, that might not lead to swell of confidence in the fan base anytime soon. The Giants have been bad for a while now, they’re projected to be bad for the foreseeable future, so why get too worked up about results?
Maybe I’m ignoring the obvious here. Beyond nobody wanting to watch a bunch of losers, they don’t want to see their favorite winners become losers. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Bruce Bochy are champions in the minds of every Giants fan. Twenty years from now, that’s how we’ll still see them, but in this short-term, it’s very hard to watch the degradation.
That’s definitely a hindrance to confidence going forward. The Giants have already bottomed out, but now the fans must watch them suffer indignity after indignity until they retire one by one.
First up, of course, is Bruce Bochy. He had a 78% approval rate in last week’s vote. FanPulse approval is up to 79% this week, and if he keeps picking the right spots to play Pablo Sandoval (whose approval rating is no doubt sky high), it’ll probably rise again next week.