The San Francisco Giants came this close to making the 2020 postseason. Another two runs on Sunday and they’re in. Don’t give up a 3-run home run in the final inning on Friday and they’re in.
So, seen through that lens, it’s nearly a given that the Giants have their eyes on the postseason going forward.
But seen through all of the other lenses, it’s not such a given. Presuming MLB’s rules return to normal in 2021 — an admittedly large presumption — the Giants current standing would leave them two games out of the second Wild Card, as part of a 6-8 team race for one spot. With 102 more games left to play.
Their top two pitchers are free agents, and their surprisingly good offense was helped in large part by Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, who halted regression to somehow have the best offensive seasons of their careers, comfortably into their 30s.
The Giants may be retooling, but there’s reason to think they still need to take another step backwards before leaping forwards.
But maybe not. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said that one of the team’s goals is to make the postseason next year. That might not seem like a newsworthy quote — a baseball exec saying they’re going to try to play good baseball isn’t exactly shocking — but it’s not really something Zaidi has said before.
He’s shied away from using the word “rebuild,” but has also refused to put any timelines into place. Since taking over, Zaidi has repeatedly said that the Giants will emphasize making the right moves, prioritizing both the present and the future, until they’re where they want to be. This is the first we’ve heard a date set as a goal for the organization to be competitive.
Zaidi said the #SFGiants expectations will go up in 2021 and the goal is to make the playoffs.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) September 30, 2020
That's talked about internally in clubhouses every year, but this is the first time under Zaidi the Giants are publicly moving beyond the "meaningful baseball" deep into the year goal.
They’ll have to take steps forward if they want to get there, but they seem determined and optimistic to get there. And it seems that Zaidi is pretty happy with the person he put in charge of managing that.
Farhan Zaidi said he was really proud of the work Gabe Kapler did in his first year, pointed out that coaching hires were Kapler's and made a huge difference. "I know a lot of people across the organization are really grateful to have him in this role as manager."— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 30, 2020
The Giants may not make the postseason in 2021. It’s more likely that they don’t than that they do.
But for the first time a few years it’s openly the organization’s goal, and they don’t look silly or desperate touting it.
It’s 183 days until Opening Day. Not that I’m counting, or anything...