As of the time that I am writing this article, the San Francisco Giants have a record of 28-16, which is good for a .636 win percentage; both marks are the best in baseball. With the Giants currently being the best team in the league and in first place of what many consider to be the most top-heavy division in baseball, you would think they are probably all over baseball media right? Well, they very much are not.
Yesterday on 5/20/2021, the Giants put up 19 runs against the Reds, and the official MLB Twitter account tweeted about this game only once (besides announcing that it was the Youtube game of the week, which they would do for any team – so that doesn’t really count). ONE TIME. A third-place team played a game that finished 3-2, the MLB Twitter account tweeted about it four times. That third-place team is the Dodgers, who the Giants are ahead of by 2 games in the division. Even on Instagram, the last Giants post (post solely about the Giants, not a power ranking, or something that included the Giants but is about multiple teams) other than the post talking about the 19-4 win over the Reds came back on May 8th, when the Giants notched their 20th win of the season.
The Giants have been first in the NL West for almost a month now, but you wouldn’t know that as a casual fan or someone who just follows MLB on social media. There is a very good chance that the Giants become the first team to 30 wins on the season, but why are they talked about so little by MLB and other media outlets that cover baseball? Why are you not hearing about all of the success they have put together so far? There are a few possible reasons as to why, so we’ll go over some of them.
They are one of the oldest teams in baseball
The youth movement in baseball is something you will hear about from just about every outlet that covers MLB, and rightfully so. Baseball is getting younger and a lot of the guys you see every day are very exciting players that are easy to market. Take Fernado Tatis Jr., or Ronald Acuña Jr. for example. They are both very exciting players for teams that market around them. MLB takes advantage of that and is able to use it to grow the game (theoretically, of course, since they don’t do a very good job).
“Let the kids play” was a very well-known tagline from baseball in 2019, and it is still used widely across the league. Well, the Giants don’t have many “kids” to let play. They are the second oldest team in baseball just behind the Nationals, according to ESPN. With their average age of 30.3 years, they are one of only 5 teams with an average age so high. Their current youngest player is Camilo Doval, who is a 23-year-old flamethrower out of the bullpen that may be up and down between the majors and AAA, but their youngest everyday guy is Mauricio Dubon at 26. Their oldest players are Johnny Cueto and Evan Longoria, both at 35 years old. Their star guy, Mike Yastrzemski, is 30 and most of their starters are also above that 30 mark.
So when they say “let the kids play”, the Giants only have a few players that MLB would consider “kids”.
They don’t play “Sexy Baseball”
It’s all about the longball right? Big offense, scoring 11 runs every day and hitting at least 5 homers a night, right? That’s what most fans of baseball want, they want to see offensive explosions on a daily basis. That’s the “sexy” way to win baseball games. Well, the Giants are actually second in the league in home runs, and they are eighth in the league in runs scored, according to baseball-reference. This seems to fit the model of what the league wants, right? Why isn’t it marketed a bit more? Well, while the offense seems just fine (and it is), the Giants actually don’t get a lot of hits. They are below league average in hits; the ones they do get though, are just at the right times.
So, their offense is good but not that exciting; what about their pitching? Do they have guys throwing 100 regularly with nasty sliders and airbender change-ups, striking everyone out? Well, the Giants are actually one of the softest throwing teams in the league. The Giants rank in the bottom 10 in the league in average fastball velocity according to Fangraphs. They also have 380 strikeouts on the year, just below league average. They don’t throw very hard, but they get results. Their 121 ERA+ ranks fifth in the league, and their runs allowed per game ranks second. They are getting by with some soft throwing starters and some above-average defense. This has proven to be a winning formula so far, as their starters have a Quality Start Percentage of 50%, good for second in the league. All of this not “sexy” pitching is winning the Giants games, but it’s hard to market soft-throwing starters that go out and do their jobs rather than guys who throw 100 plus and get similar results.
Their success isn’t expected to last
The Giants play in a division with two of the best teams in baseball, the Dodgers and the Padres. These two teams are expected to have two of the best records in baseball when all is said and done. Before the year started, you were lucky to find anyone having the Giants finishing about .500. Even I had the Giants finishing the season at 81-81, but am I glad to have been proven wrong so far this season. This success so far, however, is not viewed as sustainable by most MLB analysts. Fangraphs gives the Giants a 43.8% chance to make the playoffs as of now, with the Padres at 96.5% and the Dodgers at 97.8%.
So even though the Giants are 2 games up on the Dodgers, they are still not even over 50% chance to make the postseason. Fangraphs has them finishing at 86-76, good for the second wild-card spot. They also project that the Giants’ pitching is going to regress significantly. Fangraphs has their runs allowed per game dropping from their current mark of 3.39 to 4.22 the rest of the way, a difference of 0.83 runs allowed per game. They also expect their run differential to drop too; the Giants currently have a run differential of +57 through 44 games but are projected to have a run differential of -9 through the rest of the season. San Francisco does have one of the toughest schedules remaining according to baseball-reference, which is no surprise as they still do play the Padres and Dodgers a ton throughout the season.
All of these factors contribute to the general impression that the Giants are going to regress and regress hard, but they have already shown thus far that they are out to prove everyone wrong this year.
They lack star power
The Giants have a lot of guys on their team that many consider “past their prime” or “washed up”. Take this team back 8 years and they have a star-studded roster with Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford. Well, these names do not have the same flair that they used to. Nowadays, the Giants have Mike Yastrzemski and that really seems to be it.
Yaz is a star because he plays good ball with having a grandfather who is also a Red Sox legend. Yaz is also in his second full season at age 30, so he isn’t exactly a young gun either.
Posey still does get his recognition, as he does still garner a lot of respect from the league, but MLB loves featuring Yadier Molina instead (even though Posey is having a far better season). Posey is having a major resurgence this year after not playing in 2020 because of Covid-19. So far this year, Posey has already batted to the tune of 8 home runs, a .451 OBP, a 204 WRC+, and 1.9 WAR this season. He is looking to be back in MVP form but is doing it under the radar as MLB features guys like Yadi, Realmuto, and Will Smith.
Brandon Crawford is also having a huge year so far. He hit his team-leading 11th home run yesterday, which is tied for 8th in the league. He also has a .336 OBP, a 144 WRC+, and 1.6 WAR so far this year. With elite defense, Crawford has been a human highlight reel in 2021, but you won’t hear about him at all, especially with all of the shortstops who are hitting free agency after this season getting all of the focus. Crawford is also one of those shortstops, but you would never know it since he is always flying under the radar in San Francisco.
These guys who are “past their prime” are putting up some crazy good numbers, but their names don’t mean as much as they used to, giving the Giants no star power to market.
MLB just hates them
Okay, so this one has a lot less merit than all of the other reasons on this list. This reason is just me, a Giants fan, upset that this team is not getting the attention it deserves. If your team is winning, they should be featured right? When Oakland forgot what losing was for 2 weeks, they got plenty of recognition. When the Dodgers were losing for 2 weeks, they got more recognition than the Giants did. Ask any Giants fan you know and they will tell you, they are shocked any time MLB social media decides to talk about the Giants at all. The Padres had the same amount of wins as the Giants a few days ago, but the Padres were featured as “tied for the most wins in the league”. That tweet can be found here:
Guess who went unmentioned? The Giants, who also had a better winning percentage and were leading the division still at that time.
MLB, what’s the deal? Did the Giants do something wrong? I get that the Dodgers and Padres are super exciting and talented teams. I love watching those matchups because they are just good for baseball, but the Giants at least deserve some respect don’t they? It isn’t easy to go 28-16, that’s why no other teams have done it yet. The Giants are a good baseball team and deserve to be recognized as such. If they start to majorly regress like everyone is projecting them to, that’s fine, you don’t have to talk about them, but right now they are winning a lot and beating quality teams, they deserve to be talked about.
As I was finishing up this article MLB tweeted out an image of MLB.com favorites for the NL and AL Cy Young:
DeGrom is always the NL Cy Young favorite, he is absolutely the best pitcher in baseball and deserves all the greatness and praise he gets and more. I just want to compare Kevin Gausman to these other four guys to see how he stacks up in certain stats that are typically used to evaluate a pitcher.
ERA? Gausman only trails Woodruff
Pitcher WAR? only trails Woodruff
WHIP? trails Woodruff and Bauer
Strikeouts? Tied with Burnes behind the rest
ERA+? Trails Woodruff
FIP? trails Woodruff
WPA? trails Woodruff
cWPA? trails Woodruff
So in conclusion, Gausman has been better than Bauer, Darvish, and Burnes in almost every category. Woodruff has been dominant and absolutely deserves to be on the list. I’m not saying that these other guys don’t deserve to be in the discussion, but one of the best pitchers in the league for the team with the best record in baseball should probably get some recognition for being dominant and so good this season right? Trevor Rogers of the Miami Marlins also is absolutely snubbed from this list, but that’s a story for another day – it falls along the same lines as to why Gausman isn’t getting recognition.
All I ask is for those who are making these lists and running these accounts to please give the guys and teams the respect and recognition they deserve.
Feature Image from @SFGiants on Twitter