At 24-36, with a losing home record (13-14) and a pathetic road mark (11-22), the San Francisco Giants would need a 12-game winning streak just to reach the break-even point by the 72nd game of the season.
So, should the team throw in the towel on the 2017 season and sell off their aging, high-priced talent?
Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean, the team’s former general manager, used to say that it took 40 games to truly assess a team.
Well, the Giants are 60 games into the 2017 season, find themselves playing worse than they were 20 games ago, and ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner remains weeks away from rejoining the rotation.
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For the sake of argument, however, assume the Giants get white-hot and find themselves 36-36 after 72 games. If they played at a .600 clip over the final 90 games, they’d go 54-36 and finish 90-72.
Would that be enough to sneak into the postseason?
Currently, the Rockies are on pace to win 100 games while the Diamondbacks and Dodgers are headed for 95-win campaigns. If the season ended today, Colorado would win the division and Arizona and LA would grab the wild cards – with the hypothetically resurgent Giants falling a bit short.
Meanwhile, the Cubs and Brewers are tied for the lead in the NL Central – the only two teams in the division above .500 – and on pace for 85 victories. Either still could factor into the wild-card scene.
Getting back to that 12-game winning streak … let’s get real.
If San Francisco ever is to reach .500, it’s a safe bet it won’t happen until around the 90th game of the season at the earliest, with 72 games remaining.
At 45-45, San Francisco would need to play .625 ball just to reach 90 wins (which we figure won’t be enough).
To get to the more secure 95-win mark, from a 45-45 starting point, the Giants would need a .687 winning percentage over the final 2½ months.
Know what kind of teams play at a .687 clip?
The 1906 Chicago Cubs (116-36), the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46), the 1998 New York Yankees (114-48) and the 1954 Cleveland Indians (111-43).
Four teams in MLB history. That’s it.
Of course, San Francisco wouldn’t have to play that well for a full season, but you get the idea. The Giants have to start playing like an all-time great just to have a chance at a wild card. And they have yet to show signs of being mediocre.
No, San Francisco should have no qualms about being a seller at the July 31 trade deadline. Sure, you might have to say adios to the likes of Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Cain, Mark Melancon, Hunter Pence, Denard Span or Eduardo Nunez. But look what restocking the minor league system has done for the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees recently.
Shedding aging stars, along with their onerous salaries, could set the Giants up for another run like they made earlier this decade.
The fire sale can’t start soon enough.