The 2016 Giants won 87 games. That’s hard to believe. When I think about it, it still seems like a distant memory. The kind of memory that sits on the outer reaches of your mind, fuzzy and misshapen. Did the Giants really win 87 games? I think so. The win total from 2016 only really tells half the story. It was the season that marked the beginning of the decline for the San Francisco Giants. The baseball season is split into two halves. It seems arbitrary, as splits sometimes do, but the second half of the 2016 season marked the start of the precipitous decline for the Giants. The team would only win 30 games in the second half that year (.417 winning percentage). In 2017, the Giants topped out at 64 wins (.395 W-L%); 2018, 73 total wins (.451 W-L%).
Bad-to-awful trades were made; folks lost their jobs; and an organizational shakeup occurred.
The Giants are saddled with an aging roster of declining veterans, a farm system that seems to be perpetually stuck in the bottom of rankings, and will surely play most of their home games in the coming season in front of more seagulls than fans in the seats. It’s a weird, transitional time for Giants’ baseball and — I kind of love it.
The previous regime seemed inclined to reload the roster with veterans while the core team — the one that won three titles in five years — gradually declined. While there is some room for rebound (Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey come to my immediate mind) there is no ignoring that the Giants are an older team. In 2018, they were the third oldest team in baseball. Right now, heading into 2019, the only sub-30-year-old starters are Mac Williamson (28), Steven Duggar (25), and Joe Panik (28). Again, the Giants will mostly be a baseball club composed of old dudes.
With that said, then, why do the 2019 Giants have a chance to be interesting? One reason: the removal of winning expectations gives them a chance to get weird. You want to try openers? Go for it. Platooning the lineup to maximize every bit of talent? Why not. Letting Madison Bumgarner hit cleanup on the days he’s not pitching? Absolutely. All ideas and solutions, no matter how weird, should be on the table.
The 2019 Giants will be bad, but at least they might be interesting. After two-plus years of boring, bad baseball, that’s enough to make me tune in most nights.
Brief side note: I’ve missed writing about baseball. It’s my goal to write more on this season. In particular, I think the team this year, while not “good,” has the chance to be quite interesting. And as a transitional time for the Giants, I think that’s all you can really ask for. I hope, occasionally, I’ll have something quasi-insightful to say. Thanks for reading.