If Giants fans could gather around a courthouse this offseason, there's a good chance they all would have voted "yes" for expanded MLB playoffs. Well, that didn't happen.
The MLB playoffs grew from 10 teams to 16 last year during the 60-game regular season. But baseball is back to its old ways with 162 regular-season games and 10 playoff teams. Giants manager Gabe Kapler couldn't care less.
"We have to win as many baseball games as we can," Kapler said to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser on the "Giants Splash" podcast when asked about this year's playoffs. "It doesn't really matter what the playoff format is. We still have the same jobs to do, which is coming out of the regular season having won as many games as possible.
"I just don't see how it impacts us at all."
The Giants went 29-31 last season, finishing in third place in the NL West. They lost their final three games of the regular season to watch their playoff hopes slip out of their fingers. Things didn't get any easier this offseason in the division, either.
While the Giants made smart signings with players like Tommy La Stella, Alex Woods, Anthony DeSclafani and several bullpen pieces, their toughest competition went all-in. The San Diego Padres made several big-time moves to bolster their starting rotation, plus the Los Angeles Dodgers signed NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and brought back star third baseman Justin Turner.
Most projections don't like the Giants' chances to make the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus projects the Giants to finish fourth in the NL West, while FanGraphs gives them just a 7.9 percent chance at the postseason. For Kapler, however, he's sending his team a simple message: Be your best and good things will happen.
"Look, would we prefer to have more opportunities to make it into the postseason? I don't think that there's a team that wouldn't say there's some attractiveness to that," Kapler said. "But our goal, and I've shared this philosophy with our players, is to be as good as we possibly can be within the current construct -- within what the rules suggest and what the playoff format is. I just don't see that changing very much.
"If our players are going to stay focused on the things they can control, then we as leaders, as coaches, need to be focused on the things that we can control as well. And that's how we approach every baseball game."
This wouldn't be the first time the Giants defied expectations. It won't be easy but Kapler knows his squad can't focus on the noise outside of San Francisco.