This season was mathemagical and lucky. The Dodgers were the better team, that a few times only lost because of an error by one guy (Bellinger, Jansen, Turner). To their credit, our Giants seized the mistakes.
The Giants played unbelievably well. They were managed brilliantly and straight beat the Bums in some games. I was at that 5 – 0 shutout in late July. Then the clutch win to take the season series proved we were the better team when it mattered more than them, all season long.
We earned the division.
But it ended like it did not because of a bullshit check-swing call, but because this is how monied ball works: they spent $60m more than us for the guys on the field. As I pointed out back in April, they are the new Sith Lord – they outspent every other team in the majors by at least 20%
Their expensive guys were better, and frankly Dave Roberts stole one of our moves, by using an opener, to help their expensive guys out – an interesting moment mix-and-matching the moneyball game and the monied one.
Also, losing a big bat was far more costly for us, the moneyball team, than for the monied one: the Giants without Belt couldn’t outhit or outscore the Nemesis without Muncy.
Ultimately we contributed to the demise of the nemesis, exhausting the Bums, which allowed the Braves to deny them the pennant and the real trophy, the regular, 162-game season trophy:
Moneyball almost always runs out in the DS, as I restated immediately after the last game:
“all along I said we’d probably lose the DS, because that’s what happens to moneyball teams – since the Oakland Athletics invented it. The greatest moneyball team ever is the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, a team that achieved that level of success again in The Irregular Season (2020). And in the end, even they fell short.”
Which for me begs the question, then, is it worth it? We won more games than ever, had an incredible season, beat the Nemesis in the season series and for the division, and still weren’t favored to win the DS. Ask yourself why? I pose this because one of my jobs here at GBC is to ask stuff others won’t in the hopes of opening discourse toward a better team.
This season marks the true beginning of the Giants version of the moneyball philosophy. And it overperformed spectacularly. But a LOT of that was some crazy luck. So will we spend on several guys who sabermetrically fit the team, so we can try to make a run like that happen again? or spend bigger to add a premiere starter or premiere OF/utility power hitter? Will we ever have a starting rotation, like the old days? Are ‘bullpen games’ now just a part of our strategy? These are some of the questions emerging from this philosophical and financial change of process.
A good place to follow these discussions is at Around the Foghorn, which has been in the blogroll here since they started. I often link to their stuff in the corner.
Jeff Young and Mark DeLucchi and others there provide good sports journalism about all levels of the organization. Young’s stuff this week about where the Giants are headed prompted me to think about it, and off-the-cuff, I even replied in the comments over there:
“I say lock up Belt (QO) and Posey (contract). Pay Wilmer Flores and Jose Alvarez. Negotiate hard for Kris Bryant, Kevin Gausman, Donavon Solano, Alex Wood. But be flexible with Dominic Leone and Tony Watson and even DeSclafani, Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir and John Brebbia. The combination of luck and old guys’ last drops of magic were awesome, but we need to turn to a new round of misfit toys. All these guys are more valuable than they’ll ever be again. I want a legit, mid-career, big bat for the outfield, Kyle Schwarber or Starling Marte – Nick Castellanos could be affordable – and to go after a starting pitcher like Ray or Syndegaard.”
You should go over to Around the Foghorn and join the discussion.
Important Moments in 2021 w Links to GBC coverage
- Brandon Crawford Became the Longest Tenured Giants Shortstop EVER
- Yaz Hit his First Grand Slam in the Majors, and It Got Wet
- Dick Tidrow, Architect of Our Three-WS Winning Pitching Staff, Passed Away
- Giants Were First to 40-, 50-, 60-, 70-, 80-, 90-, and 100-wins
Many season records fell as well: most wins, home runs, guys with ten home runs, pinch-hit home runs, and pitchers used are the ones I can remember right now. Safe to say our Sabermetrics Year, our Moneyball Year was without a doubt the best statistically in our history by a long shot.
I was going to link to some pieces I liked after the season, but you all probably read the same ones I did in the vacuum of the gut-punch that ended our magical ride. What a shitty way for the season to end – so anti-climactic, so vacuous.
It hurt to lose like that. In some ways it is comparable to the 1993 season. I remember it well. Those of you who do can share your unique stories comparing then and now in the comments if you like. For me, 1993 was WAY worse, because we lost so big and we had the better record by far and the team was in danger of leaving, and perhaps most importantly, we hadn’t won the world series yet.
Winning it all changed everything – losing hurts less. This one hurt badly. But there were silver linings all over it. We felt ahead of schedule … except we don’t really have a team and have to rebuild it again – ay! Moneyball!
Here’s the 2021 season GBC Glossary with some fun notes on superstitions and rally capping and finally, I did some new things here at GBC as well:
- I finally paid for ‘giantsbaseballcorner dot com’ and removed the ads
- created an Insta for GBC (hardly used it – looking for someone Insta-savvy to take it over)
- posted to reddit a few times … mostly during …
- live-blogging The Gauntlet – the longest uninterrupted stretch of games (16)
Thank you for joining Giants Baseball Corner this season. It felt good to have readers. Best wishes for good health to you all in my Giants family.
Let’s Go Giants!