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How would the 2019 Giants fare with an 82-game season?

Pretty well, according to my arbitrary calculations.

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

The latest proposal by Major League Baseball to get the season started suggests that the league adopt an 82-game season for 2020. It also proposes a 14-team postseason, rather than the standard 10.

Both of these things would benefit the San Francisco Giants, because the Giants do not project to be a particularly good team. A shortened season increases variance — that, combined with an expanded postseason field, dramatically increases the Giants chances of making the postseason.

And we all know that once the postseason begins, anyone can win. The Giants have plenty of hardware that reflects that reality.

I was curious how the Giants would have done last year, under an 82-game slate. Under a 162-game season, the Giants finished 77-85, 29 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, and 12 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the second Wild Card slot.

The Giants finished 10th in the NL, and, had there been four Wild Card teams last year, they would have finished 8 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final postseason spot.

So they weren’t that close.

But what about in an 82-game season? I took a look at nine different 82-game seasons from last year: From games 1-82, games 11-92, and so on and so forth, through games 81-162. We don’t know the specifics of the postseason format, but I was assuming that it would still separate the traditional NL from the AL, with seven postseason teams from each side.

Here’s how the Giants did:

Games 1-82

Record: 35-47

The Giants finish 14th in the NL and 5th in the NL West. They finish 20 games behind the Dodgers, and 7 games behind the final Wild Card team, the San Diego Padres.

Games 11-92

Record: 40-42

You don’t need a winning record to make a playoff push in an 82-game season with an expanded playoff field. The Giants finish tied for 9th in the NL, and 4th in the NL West. They finish 12 games behind the Dodgers for the division, and just 2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the Wild Card.

Games 21-102

Record: 44-38

Suddenly things are interesting! The Giants finish 6 games above .500, which is tied for 5th in the NL, and 2nd in the NL West. Despite still finishing 11 games behind the Dodgers in the division, they earn the 2nd or 3rd Wild Card, depending on the tiebreakers, and they have a 3-game advantage over the first team out.

Games 31-112

Record: 44-38

The Giants aren’t a one-time thing! They again finish 44-38, which this time is good for 4th in the NL (and still 2nd in the NL West). The Giants finish 9 games behind the Dodgers, and get unlucky and earn the 2nd Wild Card instead of the 1st Wild Card, because NL-Central winning Chicago Cubs finish with a worse record than San Francisco. The Giants are again 3 games ahead of the first team out.

Games 41-122

Record: 44-38

44-38 for the third straight 82-game season, and this one’s pretty much the same as before: 2nd in the NL West, 4th in the NL, with the 2nd Wild Card slot, again because they finished ahead of the NL Central winner, which is now the St. Louis Cardinals. The Giants finish 12 games behind the Dodgers, but 4 games ahead of the first team out.

Games 51-132

Record: 44-38

The Giants are 6 games above .500 for the fourth straight time. This time the Giants are 5th in the NL (still 2nd in the NL West). They’re 10 games behind the Dodgers, earn the 2nd Wild Card, and finish 3 games ahead of the first team out.

Games 61-142

Record: 44-38

One final run at 44-38, for the fifth straight segment. This time that’s not quite as good, as the Giants finish tied for 6th in the NL, and 3rd in the NL West. They’re 7 games behind the Dodgers, tied with the New York Mets for the 3rd and 4th Wild Card spots, and 2 games ahead of the first team out.

Games 71-152

Record: 43-39

The Giants drop to just 4 games above .500, but they’re likely still in the playoffs. They finish 2nd in the NL West, and in a 3-way tie for 6th in the NL. Depending on tiebreakers, they’re either the 3rd Wild Card, 4th Wild Card, or the first team out. They finish 8 games behind the Dodgers.

Games 81-162

Record: 43-39

The Giants finish the final segment 4 games above .500, but on the outside looking in. They’re 3rd in the NL West, and, more importantly, 8th in the NL, 2 games behind the final Wild Card slot, held by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This is, at some level, an arbitrary or dysfunctional way of looking at things, since it weighs different games differently (games 81-82, for instance, are included in all 9 samples, while games 1-10 and 153-162 are only included once). The Giants having a winning record in 7 of the 9 samples — and making the postseason in 6 of them — doesn’t seem quite right.

But it’s better than doing a randomized sample, since sequential games allow for important things that happen in the season, like injuries, streaks, and adding impact players.

So I’m not saying the Giants are absolutely going to make the postseason in the (potential) upcoming season. But I’m not not saying it, either ...

Here are the full standings for each segment, if anyone cares. We should all admire the consistency of the Philadelphia Phillies, and the patterns of the Colorado Rockies.

2019 82-game seasons

Team Games 1-82 Games 11-92 Games 21-102 Games 31-112 Games 41-122 Games 51-132 Games 61-142 Games 71-152 Games 81-162
Team Games 1-82 Games 11-92 Games 21-102 Games 31-112 Games 41-122 Games 51-132 Games 61-142 Games 71-152 Games 81-162
Arizona Diamondbacks 41-41 42-40 41-41 39-43 39-43 41-41 45-37 40-42 45-37
Atlanta Braves 48-34 49-33 50-32 51-31 52-30 53-29 55-27 52-30 50-32
Chicago Cubs 44-38 46-36 45-37 43-39 39-43 41-41 42-40 43-39 41-41
Cincinnati Reds 38-44 41-41 39-43 41-41 40-42 40-42 38-44 39-43 38-44
Colorado Rockies 43-39 43-39 39-43 39-43 36-46 36-46 29-53 29-53 29-53
Los Angeles Dodgers 55-27 52-30 55-27 53-29 56-26 54-28 51-31 51-31 52-30
Miami Marlins 32-50 32-50 34-48 33-49 35-47 31-51 28-54 28-54 26-56
Milwaukee Brewers 43-39 39-43 41-41 41-41 39-43 39-43 40-42 43-39 47-35
New York Mets 37-45 35-47 36-46 41-41 42-40 43-39 44-38 45-37 49-33
Philadelphia Phillies 43-39 40-42 42-40 42-40 40-42 40-42 41-41 39-43 39-43
Pittsburgh Pirates 39-43 38-44 34-48 33-49 30-52 31-51 33-49 34-48 30-52
San Diego Padres 42-40 39-43 37-45 35-47 35-47 35-47 35-47 35-47 30-52
San Francisco Giants 35-47 40-42 44-38 44-38 44-38 44-38 44-38 43-39 43-39
St. Louis Cardinals 41-41 42-40 44-38 38-44 43-39 48-34 49-33 49-33 51-31
Washington Nationals 41-41 44-38 45-37 46-36 50-32 55-27 52-30 52-30 53-29