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Monday, May 17, 2021

The San Francisco Giants’ 2010s Dynasty Didn’t Follow The Rules. Neither Has Their Rebuild.

A team rising from No. 23 to No. 1 in rotation strength is pretty unprecedented. Since the dawn of the expansion era in 1961, the biggest year-over-year improvement for a team who ranked first in starting pitching WAR came from the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies, who had ranked 21st in 1979. (They and the 1971 Chicago White Sox are the only teams in the era to go from outside the top 16 in rotation WAR to No. 1 overall the following season.) Even if the Giants’ rotation fell to second place, they would join the 2009 Atlanta Braves, 1989 California Angels and 2020 Philadelphia Phillies as the only teams to rise to No. 2 in rotation WAR from No. 23 or worse the season before.

Either way, it’s been a significant turnaround. And what’s particularly notable is that the Giants basically built this rotation in the span of just a few seasons. While the always-entertaining Johnny Cueto has been with San Francisco since 2016, and Logan Webb made his debut late in the 2019 season, the rest of the Giant starters were acquired over the past two offseasons. As a result, 85 percent of the wins generated by San Francisco pitchers have come from players who were not homegrown — i.e., they made their MLB debuts with teams other than the Giants. Among teams this season, only the Texas Rangers (90 percent) have a higher rate of production from pitchers developed outside the organization — but they haven’t been nearly as successful with the strategy, ranking 24th in WAR from starters and 22nd in pitching WAR overall.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 17, 2021 at 11:00 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants

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   1. Baldrick Posted: May 17, 2021 at 11:55 PM (#6019336)
Last year’s Giants weren’t supposed to be much of a playoff threat at all — particularly with longtime manager Bruce Bochy retiring, iconic pitcher Madison Bumgarner departing for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cooperstown-bound catcher Buster Posey opting out of the season over COVID-19 concerns. But they hung around for an impressively long time in the expanded postseason race, with over a 60 percent chance to make the playoffs as late as the second week of September. Only a late-season swoon — losses in 10 of their final 16 games — prevented the Giants from grabbing the No. 8 seed in the NL playoff bracket, as they lost out on a tiebreaker to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Translation: they finished under .500.
Then again, it’s also rare to see a team cobble together the best rotation in baseball out of mostly unheralded pitchers who hadn’t been with the club just a few seasons earlier. There are plenty of questions about how viable all of this will end up being — our forecast model doesn’t really consider San Francisco a serious title contender yet, despite its impressive record — but for now, the Giants are the dark horse in a division that was supposed to belong to their rivals to the south. And just like how they ran their dynasty a decade earlier, they’ve done it in an unorthodox way while catching everybody by surprise.

Translation: we're only a quarter of the way into the season, but my editor told me I had to write a piece about the surprising Giants so here it is.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 18, 2021 at 12:35 AM (#6019340)
Translation: we're only a quarter of the way into the season, but my editor told me I had to write a piece about the surprising Giants so here it is.
The copy editor changed the writer’s suggested headline: Giants’ Regression to Mean Has Not Yet Happened.
   3. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: May 18, 2021 at 09:31 AM (#6019361)
gotta love their rotation. Almost all former Reds. Eventually Gausmann will remember he is Kevin Gausmann, and Alex Wood is always one-pitch/one-step from straining something and being down for the year.
   4. TomH Posted: May 18, 2021 at 10:12 AM (#6019373)
The descriptor word DYNASTY does not belong with the 2010s Giants. Perhaps FORTUNATE MULTI-TROPHIED. If the Giants were a dynasty, then many sports have multiple dynasties simultaneously, which really waters down the meaning. Better teams for stretches in the 1970s, the Orioles, A's, Royals, Yankees, Phillies, Reds, Dodgers, Pirates, even the Red Sox. A few lucky playoffs don't negate 800 (!) games of not-bad-ness.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 18, 2021 at 10:31 AM (#6019377)
The descriptor word DYNASTY does not belong with the 2010s Giants. Perhaps FORTUNATE MULTI-TROPHIED. If the Giants were a dynasty, then many sports have multiple dynasties simultaneously, which really waters down the meaning. Better teams for stretches in the 1970s, the Orioles, A's, Royals, Yankees, Phillies, Reds, Dodgers, Pirates, even the Red Sox. A few lucky playoffs don't negate 800 (!) games of not-bad-ness.

The traditional definition of dynasty doesn't really apply in the WC era. The best regular season team always has, at most, a 15-20% of winning it all.
   6. Cowboy Popup Posted: May 18, 2021 at 11:02 AM (#6019383)
Eventually Gausmann will remember he is Kevin Gausmann

It's only been about 18 starts between 2020 and 2021 but Gausmann does not look like he's just been hot and is going to turn back into a below average starter. 2.84/3.13 FIP/xFIP. Velocity back up to 95 MPH after a dip in 18/19. His K/9 and swinging strikeout rates are way up from earlier in his career and his splitfinger fastball is pretty close to a dominant pitch.

It looks like Gausmann is a different pitcher than he was in 2013-2018. 2019 looks like a transition year when he was starting to figure things out. He's probably not going to post a sub-2.00 ERA all year but he sure looks like a frontline starter now.
   7. Tom is wrong when he calls you stupid Posted: May 18, 2021 at 11:37 AM (#6019389)
The descriptor word DYNASTY does not belong with the 2010s Giants. Perhaps FORTUNATE MULTI-TROPHIED. If the Giants were a dynasty, then many sports have multiple dynasties simultaneously, which really waters down the meaning. Better teams for stretches in the 1970s, the Orioles, A's, Royals, Yankees, Phillies, Reds, Dodgers, Pirates, even the Red Sox. A few lucky playoffs don't negate 800 (!) games of not-bad-ness.


I am surprised to learn that the World Series is an irrelevant afterthought, rather than the focus of the entire season. Maybe it requires something different than the regular season, but that is the whole point. You can't win in the postseason than it indicates a flaw in your whole approach that DOES undercut the value of the regular season wins.
   8. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: May 18, 2021 at 11:40 AM (#6019390)
The descriptor word DYNASTY does not belong with the 2010s Giants. Perhaps FORTUNATE MULTI-TROPHIED. If the Giants were a dynasty, then many sports have multiple dynasties simultaneously, which really waters down the meaning. Better teams for stretches in the 1970s, the Orioles, A's, Royals, Yankees, Phillies, Reds, Dodgers, Pirates, even the Red Sox. A few lucky playoffs don't negate 800 (!) games of not-bad-ness.


One more it's interesting to compare the Giants and the A's. The A's kept putting together pretty good-to-great teams, 2012-2013 they lost in the DS, 2014 they lost the WC, 2018-2020 similarly lost the WC twice and the DS once. Meanwhile the Giants put together a team with middling regular-season records which over the span of 7 years, won the WS 3 times and lost the DS once, and missed the playoffs completely 3 times as well.

Some (a lot) of the Giants' success was luck, but was/is there some other component? The A's bullpen and starting rotation noticeably would wilt in the playoffs, and their OBP-driven lineup, so used to wearing out starters and then feasting off middle relief, found success difficult to come by. On the other hand, the Giants' offense, more BABIP-driven, was better able to "create its own luck". There was a defensive component as well, those 2012-2014 A's teams were pretty bad defensively, though the 2018-2021 team is quite a bit better in that regard.

Now I realize that this is a simplification, and somewhat driven by the frustration of watching so many A's teams fail so early in the playoffs, and trying to come up with an explanation, but I wonder whether any of this makes sense, and I wonder if the Giants success deserves a little bit more credit than simply saying "they were exceedingly lucky".
   9. Tom is wrong when he calls you stupid Posted: May 18, 2021 at 11:55 AM (#6019394)
One more it's interesting to compare the Giants and the A's. The A's kept putting together pretty good-to-great teams, 2012-2013 they lost in the DS, 2014 they lost the WC, 2018-2020 similarly lost the WC twice and the DS once. Meanwhile the Giants put together a team with middling regular-season records which over the span of 7 years, won the WS 3 times and lost the DS once, and missed the playoffs completely 3 times as well.

Things that made them better in the postseason than the regular season:
1) Rotation that was relatively top heavy.
2) Bullpen that was quite good and deep.
3) Bochy was probably the best ever at managing the above.
4) Good defense.
5) Team Chemistry (I know this is kind of woo woo, but in a short, high stress, series, teammates who can lean on each other makes a difference).

They were better offensively than people give them credit for, especially the 2012 team, 4th in the majors in OPS+ despite being last in the majors in home runs. They were a very unsabremetric offense, which led to a distinct lack of appreciation amongst this crowd.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 18, 2021 at 11:58 AM (#6019396)
One more it's interesting to compare the Giants and the A's.


When I read this, I thought you were going to compare the Giants to the 1972-74 A's. The Giants won 92, 94 and 88 regular season games when they won their World Series; those A's won 93, 94 and 90.
   11. Hot Wheeling American Posted: May 18, 2021 at 12:14 PM (#6019400)
There are too many Toms posting in this thread. Somebody has to do something about that.
   12. TomH Posted: May 18, 2021 at 12:33 PM (#6019404)
at least my dad, named Tom, won't be posting here.....

I *was* comparing the 70s As, not the recent ones. The A's 1971-75 won 101-93-94-90-98 games, avg of over 95 per year. They also were fortunate to win some very close World Series
The 2010-14 Giants won 96-86-94-76-88 games, avg of 88. They only averaged scoring 33 more runs they allowed per yea, so they were even fortunate to win THAT many games. Then they won many playoff series that went to the max # of games, and finally each season played some realtively very weak (90 wins or fewer!) AL teams in the World Series.
The 2010-2014 Giants are only surpassed by the 1997-2003 Marlins, IMHO, as most fortunate multiple trophy franchises in a brief window.
   13. BillWallace Posted: May 18, 2021 at 12:35 PM (#6019405)
As to TFA, the truth seems somewhere in the middle. They are outperforming FIP (Whole team 3.28 ERA vs 3.72 FIP). Some is defense (they are pretty solid, and Crawford is having a great year), some is likely BABIP luck. It's a pitchers park.

But if you look at the pitchers involved, they all have solid peripherals and some talent to support it. Webb who has the highest ERA at 4.09 could be a pretty damn good pitcher. He's got a 92mph sinker with nasty movement but the command comes and goes. If he can harness that pitch he could be a long term 3.50 guy. Gausman, Desclafani, and Wood are all talented pitchers who haven't reached their potential in the past for various reasons (injuries, Orioles pitching coaches).

They should regress, but the mean could still be one of the better all around rotations in the league.
   14. John DiFool2 Posted: May 18, 2021 at 12:58 PM (#6019408)
There are too many Toms posting in this thread. Somebody has to do something about that.


Just be glad we don't have multiple Baldricks...
   15. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: May 18, 2021 at 04:04 PM (#6019435)
How can Johnny Cueto be 35 already?! I remember going to see Reds #1 pick Jay Bruce play for the Dayton Dragons early in his season with the Dragons. Some little dude was pitching. Had never heard of him. He was just mowing people down, while Bruce went something like 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. Thinking, "who is this guy, and how do you pronounce his name. Queue-to? Quit-o?". And, of course, Jay Bruce is now retired!

Man, I am getting old.

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