How many wins will it take for Giants to sneak into MLB playoffs?

How many wins will it take for Giants to sneak into MLB playoffs?

DENVER -- For all the fun the Giants are having right now, you can sense that they understand the reality of the situation. There's a reason projection systems like FanGraphs' playoff odds give the Giants a little more than a two percent chance of making the playoffs. 

When you've spent much of the first half sitting 10 games under .500, even having a winning season seems a difficult task. Compiling enough wins to clinch a Wild Card spot can seem impossible at times, but hey, the Giants are streaking, and that allows you to view things a different way. 

So what exactly would it take to actually get into the play-in game? The Giants have been there twice before and won twice before. In 2014 they won 88 games and in 2016 they won 87, both times tying the team that hosted the game (the Pirates and then the Mets). 

That's pretty much your baseline, and as you do the math, that's where you want to be looking. Since MLB went to a two-team system in 2012, the NL Wild Card game never has featured a team that won fewer than 87 games. 

In five of the seven years, the first Wild Card team has won at least 93 games, and the Nationals seem a good bet to be that team this year. Led by a deep rotation, they're 50-43 and have a 25-10 record since June 1. 

The second spot is much more wide open. The Rockies took it with 91 wins last year and in 2015 -- when the NL Central was absurd -- the Cubs won 97 games and still finished behind the Cardinals and Pirates in their own division. But it has taken just 87 wins to get that second spot twice, 88 wins twice, and 90 wins once. 

The Giants are 46-49 after Tuesday's 8-4 thriller and have won 11 of their last 13 games. They're five back of the Nationals and three back of the second spot, but the climb to 87 still is steep. They have to go 41-26 the rest of the way, a .611 winning percentage. The only team in the NL this season to play .611 ball is Los Angeles, a juggernaut that will easily win the division yet again. 

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It's a tough task. Then again, the Giants are in this position in large part because the National League is pretty mediocre this season, and the teams ahead of them -- the Nationals, Phillies, Brewers, Cardinals and Diamondbacks -- have had their own issues. You can't look at that group and see two teams that will run away from the pack. The Astros got into the AL Wild Card game with 86 wins in 2015 and the Twins did it with just 85 two years later, and perhaps this is the year when a lesser record gets it done in the NL. 

That would help, but history tells us a more likely outcome. If you're looking for a target, make it 87 wins. That's still a lofty goal, but with the way the Giants are playing right now, anything seems possible. 

CC Sabathia wanted to play for Giants, and it almost happened twice


CC Sabathia wanted to play for Giants, and it almost happened twice

CC Sabathia is an East Bay guy, but he almost ended up on the other side of the Bay Bridge.

Growing up in Vallejo, Sabathia was an A's fan. But as he was getting closer to the draft process, he grew more and more fond of the Giants.

"I grew up an A’s fan, but for some reason in high school, I had it in my head the Giants were going to draft me,” Sabathia told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “So I always wanted to pitch for the Giants after that. I never really got any letters or any kind of looks from the A’s, so after about the 10th grade, it was always the Giants."

As it turned out, San Francisco passed on Sabathia in favor of another local prospect, Woodside's Tony Torcato.

Think the Giants regret that one?

San Francisco had a second chance to put Sabathia in a Giants uniform when he became a free agent in 2008, and they almost pulled it off, if not for the deep-pocketed Yankees.

"We were close to negotiating terms,” Sabathia said of the contract talks with the Giants. “It would’ve been cool, yeah, but this is the best thing for me, to be able to come to New York, have a chance to win every year. Being in the pinstripes is a lot of fun. It’s my dad’s dream, so I’m glad I got a chance to live it out."

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Sabathia would go on to win a World Series with the Bronx Bombers in 2009. A year later, San Francisco won the first of its three consecutive even-year world championships.

So, clearly, things worked out just fine for both sides separately. But it does make you wonder what they could have accomplished together.

Carl Yastrzemski knows it'll be 'emotional' to see Mike play at Fenway

Carl Yastrzemski knows it'll be 'emotional' to see Mike play at Fenway

It took some time -- longer than he would have liked -- but Mike Yastrzemski finally is making a name for himself at the big league level. 

Yastrzemski spent six seasons in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system before the Giants traded for him in March. Since donning the SF orange and black, he has helped transform the Giants' outfield from one of the worst in baseball into one of the team's strengths

In 74 games for the Giants, Yastrzemski is hitting .259 with 17 home runs, 47 RBI and an .890 OPS. His emergence with the Giants has made one person, in particular, very proud: His grandfather, Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski. 

“You know, the main thing is, he’s a great kid,” Carl Yastrzemski told The Athletic's Steve Buckley. “He’s worked hard. He always thought he was going to make it and I’m very, very happy for him.”

The younger Yaz helped the Giants go on a torrid run from the middle of June through the end of July, putting them in the thick of the NL wild-card race. While the Giants have fallen back to Earth in August, they still will visit the Red Sox at Fenway Park next month with something to play for. 

Watching his grandson patrol the same outfield he did for the final time 36 years ago will be a special moment for Carl Yastrzemski. 

“To see him come play at Fenway ... that’ll be something,” Yaz told Buckley. “And me ... playing here for 23 years, and then see my grandson come in and play here. It’ll be emotional, yes.

“I know how hard he worked, and to see him there, and having them announce the name Yastrzemski, I feel great because of him, how much he wanted it.”

Mike's father, Carl Yastrzemski Jr. died in 2004 after complications from hip surgery. Mike's success, in Carl's eyes, has a lot to do with how much his father worked with and helped him at a young age.

“His father saw me play,” Carl Yastrzemski said. “And his father was here for my 3,000th hit and my 400th home run. And to emulate his success — my grandson has to owe it all to his father. He spent a lot of time with him, working with him and stuff like that. When they would do things as far as baseball and working out, I kind of stood in the background. His father did the most with him.”

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There will be a lot of Yastrzemskis on hand at Fenway Park on Sept. 17-19 to watch Mike take the field on the hallowed grounds his legendary grandfather famously called home for 23 seasons. 

Mike made some tweaks to his swing in the offseason, and it's paid dividends. One part of his game, in particular, stands out to Yaz. 

“He’s got good power to all fields,” Carl said of Mike. “The more often you use the whole field, it’s better as far as people trying to defense you. You don’t want to pull and pull and pull. With that shift they use now it’s pretty hard to get a base hit. The only thing I’ve mentioned to him is that you have good power to all fields, so use all fields.”