With their stirring 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins yesterday, the Giants finally snapped a seven-game losing streak. Losing streaks are never fun to watch, but if you thought the Giants played especially terribly over that winless week, you’d be right. The Giants were outscored 63-19, a run differential of -44 runs. If you extended out that run differential over 162 games, you’d have a team that was outscored by 1,018 runs. When I first did that calculation, I had to walk straight into the ocean. But before I got out of Portland, I turned around and went back to my computer. There’s no way that’s right.
A team that scores 19 runs in 7 games would score 2.7 runs per game. Over 162 games, they would score 440 runs if you round up. A team that allows 63 runs in seven games allows 9 runs per game. Over 162 games, they would allow 1,458 runs. 1,458 minus 440 is 1,018.
This time, I stopped myself from walking straight into the ocean by remembering that of course a run differential is going to look atrocious if you extend it out over the course of a season. If you take a snapshot of a team that doesn’t win any games for a week and try to blow it up into a portrait, it’s going to come out as a blurry mess.
To get an idea of how bad this most recent losing streak was, we need to compare it to other losing streaks. The Giants have had longer losing streaks certainly. As recently as last September, the Giants lost 11 games in a row. The Casey McGehee led 2015 team had an eight-game stinkfest in the first month of the season. But in that 11-game losing streak, they were only outscored by 24 runs. Their largest margin of defeat was four runs. They were mostly close games even if the offense couldn’t get anything going.
In this most recent streak, the Giants were beat by four or more five times. Their largest margin of defeat was an 18-2 thrashing by the Diamondbacks. The Giants played competitive baseball in just one of those games.
Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I found that the Giants have had 57 losing streaks of seven games or more since 1908, and in only one of those streaks did the Giants have a worse run differential than what the Giants did last week.
Worst Losing Streaks Since 1908
In 1944, the Giants had a 13-game losing streak in which they were outscored by 55 runs, which is pretty incredible considering Mel Ott hit .288/.423/.544 for a 172 OPS+ in 1944. The 1944 team was also bereft of silly old-timey names. The best they could offer was Ewald Pyle.
This wasn’t the longest losing streak since the Giants moved out west, but it might have been the worst. Never in the San Francisco era had the Giants ever compiled a losing streak so long with a run differential so poor.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go walk into the ocean.