The San Francisco Giants are in third place. That may not seem impressive, but just 12 games ago, they were 4-10 and in last place. Giants fans were already convinced that the “Odd Year Curse” was real and that they would have to spend the summer and fall waiting for the 2016 championship run. Oh how things have changed. Suddenly, the Giants have won 9 of their last 12 and are already back to .500 at 13-13. While they are still looking up in the standings to the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, they are just a half game back of the Padres and only 3.5 games out of first place in the National League West. For a team that was doomed, that sounds pretty great.
When the Giants were sitting at 4-10, Buster Posey was hitting .229 with two extra base hits, Casey McGehee was hitting .194 with two extra base hits, and Brandon Belt, who was suppose to be having his breakout season, was hitting .152 with zero extra base hits. Madison Bumgarner had a 5.29 earned run average and had given up ten earned runs over 17 innings. In other words, four more runs than he gave up in the entire 2014 post season over 52.2 innings.
In the 12 games since then, Posey’s batting average has risen to .274 and has a .421 slugging percentage. McGehee has actually been worse as his .194 average has dropped to .181 with only two doubles to add to his extra base hit total. Belt’s average has bumped up to .234, which still looks terrible, but is a far cry from the .152 he was hitting just two weeks ago. The biggest difference has been Bumgarner, who has been dominant, including a retribution game last night versus the Padres that saw him take a no hitter into the 7th inning.
Bumgarner’s last two starts against Dodgers and Padres: 15 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) May 5, 2015
Hunter Pence, the lifeblood of the team, is still on the disabled list and has yet to play an inning in 2015. Matt Cain and Jake Peavy are both still on the DL as well, with no set timetable for their returns.
That’s what makes this 9-3 run even more impressive is that not that much has changed. While Posey and Belt have been better, they haven’t been great yet. And McGehee is been worse. The one big turnaround has been the pitching, led by Bumgarner, with some tremendous contributions from rookie Chris Heston and the Timmys, Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum.
#SFGiants‘ 7-game home win streak:
Rotation: 1.55 ERA
Bullpen: 1.13 ERA
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiantsFans) May 5, 2015
There is such a long season ahead as we are barely into the month of May. Teams who are going to be contenders may very well be under .500 right now and teams who may sell at the trade deadline might not make those decisions for at least two months. Many things can happen in the next few weeks as we head into to the summer that will give us a better idea if the 2015 Giants will be more 4-10 or 9-3. With the injuries they have, there can be optimism that health could lean them into the 9-3 direction.
However, we still live in a day and age where people voice their opinions 140 characters at a time and prefer to shorten their attention span only to what is trending. So for all the fans who said the Giants were awful at 4-10, there are just as many voices out there now who are saying the Giants are great at 9-3. Such is fandom and baseball. No team wins 140 games and no team loses 140. Outside of extreme seasons like the 43-win Detroit Tigers of 2003 and the 1962 Mets who went 40-120, nearly every team finds a way to win at least 50-70 games no matter how awful they are. That’s the beauty of baseball. Take the Milwaukee Brewers game last night versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw pitching for the Dodgers. He’s facing the Brewers, who have the worst record in baseball and just fired their manager. They’ve replaced him with Craig Counsell, who has never coached at any level. So, of course, the Brewers win the game.
The Giants are still going to be in a lot of trouble if Matt Cain and Jake Peavy end up sidelined for an extended length of time this season. It was magnified by the fact that every team in the National League West was off to a better start and that is primarily because of the head-to-head games against the Giants. The hole the Giants have dug for themselves is not due to a tougher schedule. It is due to losing to the teams they will be competing with for a division title. Now that the NL West has come back to earth, the Giants have crawled back up. It is clear that the Dodgers are not going away, and no matter how much the Padres, Diamondbacks or Rockies struggle to pitch, they will still pose dangerous lineups for the Giants’ staff. That has always been the key for the Giants success. If they can outpitch their opponent, the potent lineups will be minimized and the Giants can take control of their own playoff destiny.