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The Giants have the worst run differential in the National League

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That’s the opposite of what they’re trying to do!

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I wrote about how the San Francisco Giants were the best team in baseball in one-run games.

It was a great article, I must say. The critics adored it. I don’t have the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle in front of me at the moment, so I can’t read you the reviews just yet, but I do have this laudatory feedback from the comment section:

zzzzz
Brisbee did the same article a month ago that was much more entertaining.

You’re too kind. I can’t accept such praise.

Anyway, the Giants lost 9-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, and in the process they crafted a sequel for me, the perfect antidote to any slivers of optimism you may have been feeling.

The Giants have the worst run differential in the National League. Over the course of 71 games, the Giants have been outscored by 90 runs (whoa there). The next closest team in the NL is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have been outscored by 78 runs.

That -90 differential puts the Giants more than 200 runs away from the Dodgers, who lead the NL with a differential of +119. It’s why, despite the series being tied 1-1, the Dodgers have outscored the Giants 11-3.

You know, what? Pythagorean record is my thing Mr. Baggarly, if that even is your real name.

So I’m going to waltz over to Baseball Reference and . . . well, crap. The Giants should (if Pythagorean record is your thing), be 26-45. Somehow that feels so much more grim than the 31-40 that they are, even though they’re 16.5 games out of first place and 7.5 games out of the wild card race.

But the thrill and the agony of baseball is that your actual record is what counts, not your Pythagorean record. Your merit is determined based on your collection of nine-inning data sheets, not your cumulative output. You can win a three-game series while being outscored 15-2. Hell, you can win a three-game series while being outscored 1,462,109-2!

The Giants are not 26-45. They’re 31-40, and one variance-fueled winning streak away from at least getting a room with a view overlooking the wild card race. And while their NL-worst run differential paints a very different picture than their league-best one-run record, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Derek Holland - solidly one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year - was deployed in last night’s game, when the outcome was already decided. He hasn’t pitched in a game that was competitive since he last made a start, on May 9.

The 17 runs he’s given up as a reliever are all window linings for the Giants nasty Pythagorean record. They make depressing articles like this one possible.

In summation, the Giants are bad. They’re really bad, but they’re not quite that bad. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.