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Community Projection: Half a season?

Let us assume that baseball is played this year. Could the Giants be a contender?

Generic desk calendar, date, future 24 October 2003 THE AGE METRO Picture by G Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

2019 Stat Line

162 games, 77 wins, 85 losses, 678 runs scored, 773 runs allowed

With the Bay Area’s shelter in place order expected to be extended to May 1st, and despite the league and Players’ Union coming to an agreement on an abbreviated season, the chances of a major league season in any form continue to dwindle.

Well, let’s pretend games will be played at some point anyway, because the alternative is... staring into the middle distance while thumbing through a Spotify playlist looking for the right song to mute your sadness. You haven’t removed your headphones in days. The dog doesn’t seem to mind, but your family is understandably worried about you.

“I haven’t heard a Dignity Health ad in six months,” you say through gritted teeth. “Drew Smyly was supposed to save our season,” you add, just a little bit louder. A little bit creepier.

As the family backs away, you find that perfect song and find yourself back in Baseball Mode. You might not have the soothing sounds of Jon Miller’s call and the offense’s quiet as a whisper 4-3 groundouts, but suddenly, you’re overwhelmed with optimism. You can’t help but thing, “Could the Giants be good this year by way of getting lucky in a short season?”

Well, let’s consider the possibilities of what “this year” might look like. Most fans foresee a season consisting of 90 or fewer games, and that’s my feeling, too, which means that a season beginning on either June 15th or June 22nd could set us up for such a stretch with the postseason scheduling remaining unaffected.

I’ll admit that’s almost grotesquely optimistic. I’m making an assumption that players will need about a month lead time to get up and running, too, even if that’s not actually the case. 70-80 days from now feels like enough time to determine if there will be a Major League season, though. In any case, all that matters is limiting contagion and making sure people get the care they need. And nothing we’re talking about here factors in the transition time needed to switch from pandemic response to “business as usual” (if such a thing will even be possible in the next 10-12 months). I’m just spinning wheels with a vacuous thought experiment like this. Won’t you join me?

So, let’s just say we get in half a season: 81 games. Still wildly optimistic, but perhaps doable. That’s still 14 weeks of a scheduled 26-week season. An average of six games per week equals out to 84 total games, so we’ll adjust down with a few extra off days to get us to 81. In fact, let’s just cleave the current schedule in two, between games 81 and 82.

Projection

If the Giants merely played the final 81 games of their current schedule, that means they would would have an Opening Night of Friday, June 26th at home against the Dodgers.

The rest of the season would look something like this:

That breaks down to:

  • 40 home games, 41 road games
  • 46 against the NL West
    - 13 vs. Dodgers
    - 12 vs. Diamondbacks
    - 12 vs. Padres
    - 9 vs. Rockies
  • 21 against the NL Central
  • 7 against the NL East
  • 7 interleague games

I’d like to see them do away with the interleague games entirely, but maybe the compromise is that the Detroit series flips to the completion of the Bay Bridge series, but the A’s only have Wednesday, August 5th off, which bridges two AL series. They play the NL East in interleague and I don’t want to calculate the ripple effects of flipping a two game series (the A’s do play the Braves twice at the end of August, but it’s in Atlanta).

In any case, it’s a less than perfect situation, but it would be the least disruptive path. We just pickup halfway through the season, with each team playing their final 81 scheduled games and utilizing the same playoff setup that had been planned.

All that to get to the Giants. Could they take advantage of this minor chaos? Could they pull off a miracle run of 19-6 like they did last July? They went 42-39 over their final 81 games because of that helpful month when everything clicked, but they were outscored 83-125 just two months later, in a 11-16 September.

It sure does seem like the 2020 team is a lot closer to that September roster than July’s.

The Giants will be a lot closer to having Pablo Sandoval and Tyler Anderson at full strength come the start of this abbreviated season, and with the returns of Hunter Pence and Johnny Cueto (yes, he returned last year — but now he’s back fully healthy) and additions of Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly, maybe there’s enough there to float around .500 for a few months.

Still, looking at that schedule, it’s pretty easy to imagine them having 10 wins on August 1st.

The only thing I want the Giants to do is avoid setting the franchise record for consecutive losing seasons. In the entire history of the franchise, the Giants have not had more than four consecutive losing seasons. 2020 is setup to be Year Four, but there’s a part of me that feels maybe, just maybe, the Giants can eek out a 41-40 record (or .500 record if MLB does not follow my suggestion) and reset the clock. I don’t see how it’s possible, but in half a season, anything’s possible.

It’s all theoretical, of course. Here’s your chance to add a theory of your own.

81 games
Giants: 36-45 (5th place)
316 runs scored
389 runs allowed