It wasn't hard to predict that the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association would get nasty, but over the last few days, the twists have gotten a bit silly.
The owners have been pushing for an 82-game season, and on Sunday the players finally made their counter. Their return-to-play proposal included a season of 114 games. A day later, the owners leaked to ESPN's Jeff Passan that they might counter with a season of about 50 games.
Guess what happens to be the midpoint between the two latest proposals? That's right, exactly 82 games.
The simple explanation here is that the owners believe they'll lose money for every game that's played without fans, and if the players aren't going to renegotiation their per-game salaries, the owners will make sure the entire pie is much smaller. The players, naturally, are pushing for as many games as possible, knowing that every extra week is that much more money.
On and on they'll go, but sources on both sides still believe there will ultimately be a resolution. It just will take longer than first expected.
As the sides continue volleying back and forth, let's bring it back to the Giants. We know how last season ended up over 162 games -- 77-85 -- but what would the 2019 Giants have looked like over a shortened season?
MLB is not going to play a 50-game season. That's an absurd notion, one that will force players and teams to spend a month scrambling to get health protocols in place only to rush through a season in less than two months.
A season anywhere near this short would turn the playoff race upside down, eliminating teams like the 2019 Nationals, eventual champions who lost 31 of their first 50 before getting hot. The Giants weren't much better last year. They were 21-29 and somehow already 11 1/2 games out in the NL West.
In the 50th game last season, Drew Pomeranz started and saw his ERA rise to 6.45. Joe Panik was the leadoff hitter that day, Tyler Austin batted third and Mac Williamson played left field. Mike Yastrzemski had not yet been called up.
Over an actual 50-game season, you would expect some wild swings in stats -- perhaps someone batting .400 or posting a 1.30 ERA -- but there were no Giants last year who would have clearly benefited. Pablo Sandoval led the 50-game Giants with a .304 average and was tied with Brandon Belt with seven homers. Jeff Samardzija led the starting staff with a 3.27 ERA.
There were no crazy outliers. The 50-game Giants were pretty boring in 2019.
In theory, an 82-game season should put the Giants on the fringes of the playoff race. They don't have the talent to stick with the Dodgers or even the Diamondbacks for 162 games, but cut that season in half and some crazy stuff might happen. You remember that spirited run last summer, right?
Well, in an 82-game season the Giants would need to get into gear a bit earlier than they did last year. That July stretch got them briefly thinking about the Wild Card race and altered their deadline strategy, but it also started a few days after the midpoint of the season. At 82 games, the Giants were 35-47 and had the second-worst record in the National League.
At the halfway (plus one) point, Sandoval led the Giants in WAR and was tied with Belt and Kevin Pillar at 10 homers. Alex Dickerson, just called up, was batting .367. Shaun Anderson (3.86 ERA) looked like he might be locking down a future rotation spot. Again, there aren't really wild swings here, though.
Now we're talking. The Giants got going last July, briefly thrusting themselves back into the playoff race. On August 6 they were 56-58, just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot. The Giants got off to a rough start last year and ultimately finished well out of the race, but for a brief moment there -- one that included the proposed 114-game mark -- they were frisky.
From a player standpoint, not much sticks out. Yastrzemski was the main benefactor of the season going past 114 games, as he had 10 homers at this point and would double that total. We had not yet been introduced to Mauricio Dubon or Tyler Rogers.
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To give you a true idea of what a 114- game season looks like, consider that the Giants released Panik on this day last year. A season of this length is plenty long, but there's also a good stretch left to play, and that's shown in the playoff races.
If the 2019 season had ended after 114 games, the Phillies and Cubs would have snuck into the picture. Gabe Kapler likely would have kept his job. Instead, he's with the Giants, trying to figure out what his team might look like over 50 games, 82, or perhaps even 114.
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