Stat shows Giants' playoff hopes get boost in 60-game 2020 MLB season

Stat shows Giants' playoff hopes get boost in 60-game 2020 MLB season

The traditional 162-game MLB season is a grueling marathon, playing out over a seven-month stretch that requires travel all over the country.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced MLB to adopt an abbreviated 60-game season for 2020, reportedly beginning on July 23 with a showdown between the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, and limit travel to three geographic regions.

According to FanGraphs' win probability formula, this shortened season certainly will benefit the Giants' chances at making the 2020 MLB playoffs.

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It makes sense on the surface. Playing over a hundred fewer games allows for exponentially more variance for how the final standings will look at the end of September, helping teams that feature a below-average collection of talent.

However, if you took the 60 Giants games last season from today's date (July 5) to Sept. 12, San Francisco went 31-29 over that span. Over the same stretch, the Colorado Rockies went 18-42, the San Diego Padres went 25-35, the Los Angeles Dodgers went 36-24 and the Arizona Diamondbacks went 32-28. The Rockies finished just ahead of the Padres in the overall standings and Arizona had a much wider margin over the Giants for second place, but those were the only differences over the full 162-game sample size.

Also, FanGraphs has the Giants at just a 4.3 percent chance of earning a postseason berth as of July 5, so the odds remain pretty unfavorable. Just four teams (Marlins, Tigers, Mariners, Orioles) have a lower probability of making the 2020 playoffs.

Nevertheless, Giants fan can take solace in what many expect to be a wide-open season in MLB. If Gabe Kapler's group can get hot at the right time, they could sneak right in and snatch a berth in the postseason.

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Latest minor Giants trade marks milestone for new front office

Latest minor Giants trade marks milestone for new front office

The Sunday morning trade for Luis Basabe might end up getting the Giants a nice piece for a future outfield. Or it might not. 

The front office is adding another lottery ticket, but no matter how it works out, the trade did represent a bit of a landmark moment in the Farhan Zaidi regime. With the addition of Basabe and Jordan Humphreys, acquired the previous Sunday, to the MLB Pipeline Top 30, the Giants now have a list that is for the first time half-filled with players acquired since Zaidi took over in November of 2018. 

Zaidi's biggest task when he was hired was kickstarting the player development machine, mimicking what has made the Dodgers so successful in the NL West, and he went straight to work on filling holes. 

There's only so much you can do when it comes to getting high-end talent. Zaidi and new scouting director Michael Holmes have had just two drafts to work with and this year's international signing period was pushed back by the coronavirus. While many fans wanted Zaidi to trade Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith last July, neither would have brought back a Hunter Bishop or Heliot Ramos type.

But the Giants now have a top 10 system because they've greatly improved their depth. Basabe, for example, was 11th in Chicago's rankings but came in at No. 18 when moved over to the Giants' list. Humphreys was 14th with the Mets but is 26th with the Giants. 

The 15 additions have come from traditional ways, but also creative ones, which is what ownership was counting on when a new front office was brought in. Here's a breakdown:


Hunter Bishop (4th), Patrick Bailey (6), Kyle Harrison (12), Nick Swiney (15), Logan Wyatt (20), Casey Schmitt (23), Grant McCray (29), Jimmy Glowenke (30).

The accounting there: Three players from the 2019 draft and five from 2020. Bishop, taken 10th overall in 2019, is the highest-ranking player added under Zaidi. 

Trade deadline

Jaylin Davis (13), Tristan Beck (19), Kai-Wei Teng (22)

This list doesn't even include Mauricio Dubon, who came over in the Drew Pomeranz deal and has played enough since then that he's not eligible for prospect rankings anymore. 

The jury is still out on Davis, so let's focus here on the other two. It would have been enough just to get out from under the final year of Mark Melancon's deal last July, but the Braves threw in two pitchers, including Beck, a tall right-hander who had a 2.27 ERA after the trade and pitched well in the Fall League. The former Stanford star could be in the mix for a rotation spot at some point next season. 

In exchange for Sam Dyson, who pitched horribly for the Twins and then had shoulder surgery, the Giants got Davis, right-hander Prelander Berroa and Teng, who has really interesting minor league numbers. He has allowed just one homer in 122 1/3 pro innings and has 135 strikeouts and a low walk rate. The 21-year-old was in Low-A last year, but scouts think he can be a rotation option in the future. 

International signing

Aeverson Arteaga (21)

Bobby Evans and the previous regime deserve a ton of credit for getting Marco Luciano, Alexander Canario, Luis Toribio and Luis Matos into the system. If someone like Luciano has come through two or three years earlier, perhaps no jobs would have been lost. 

Zaidi's regime has had just one international signing period because this year's was moved back to next January. But last year the Giants spent $1 million on Arteaga, a Venezuelan shortstop who turns 18 next March. Pipeline says he has the quickness and instincts to stay at shortstop and "an easy right-handed swing."

[RELATED: Giants confident in Marco Luciano's glove]

Using Their Cash

Will Wilson (11)

When the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman and Zaidi from the Rays and A's, respectively, the goal was to combine small-market ingenuity with deep pockets. The Giants are trying to do the same thing. 

The Wilson trade is the most creative move yet by Zaidi and new GM Scott Harris. With the Angels looking to make a splash in free agency, the Giants took on Zach Cozart's $12.67 million with Wilson, a 2019 first-rounder, attached as the sweetener. Wilson looked good during the summer camp and manager Gabe Kapler recently noted he's been a standout in Sacramento. 

"Really strong reports on Will Wilson and his ability to play all three infield positions: second base, shortstop and third base," Kapler said. "He's driving the ball to all parts of the field."

The only downside to this deal was that the Giants cut Cozart so early that he was due his full salary even in a prorated season, weirdly making him the highest-paid Giant this year.

Minor trades

Basabe (18), Humphreys (26)

Humphreys, 24, came over for Billy Hamilton, who was added as a non-roster invitee a few days before spring training started. Hamilton never played for the Giants and was never even on the 40-man, but stashing that inventory paid off. 

Basabe cost the Giants just some cash and a roster spot, which they opened up by putting Humphreys on the restricted list because of a family issue. Trevor Gott was also acquired for cash considerations at one point and a year and a half later he's the team's closer. 

Kapler said the report he got on the 23-year-old Basabe is that he's "tooled up," has good arm strength and speed, and has a solid ceiling. 

"I think this is what makes Farhan and Scott so good at what they do," Kapler said. "To be able to bring in a guy who slots immediately into our top prospects list without giving up too much in return."

Why Giants' Gabe Kapler pulled Kevin Gausman after 80 pitches vs. Dodgers

Why Giants' Gabe Kapler pulled Kevin Gausman after 80 pitches vs. Dodgers

The Giants coaching staff spent weeks preparing for the opening series against the Dodgers, and while some of the pitching decisions looked strange at the time, there's no doubt that overall they worked. The Giants came out with a split, a great result for any team that visits Dodger Stadium these days. 

The second time through called for a bit more spontaneity, coming in the middle of a tough three-city trip. For the second straight night, a decision made when a starting pitcher was nearing the end of his leash backfired. This time it cost the Giants the game and a chance at a series win. 

On Saturday night, Johnny Cueto was allowed to extend to 93 pitches, but a three-run homer on his last one nearly proved costly. A day later, Kevin Gausman was pulled after just 80 pitches, and he watched from the dugout as Tyler Rogers gave up a three-run homer, blowing the lead in a game the Giants would go on to lose 6-2. 

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Gausman had an outstanding fastball going on an 82-degree afternoon, averaging 97 mph for the first time in four years and hitting 99 mph several times. His final pitch was his hardest of the day, a 99.3 mph heater that Cody Bellinger redirected into center field for a one-out single. Kapler came out and held up his right hand as he got to the mound. 

"I think it was just a hot day, seventh time up, third time through the toughest part of the order," Kapler said of the decision. "He had done a tremendous job. He had carried his stuff into that inning, he had carried his location into that inning, and it just felt like the right time to keep him healthy and strong and safe all the way through the season based on getting into the seventh for the first time. 

"At the same time we had a reliever ready who we felt confident could get us a groundball with a runner on first base and get us out of that inning."

Rogers gave up a single to Justin Turner and then struck out Max Muncy. He was on the verge of getting out of the inning, but he grooved a 3-2 curveball to A.J. Pollock and it sailed into the empty bleachers in left. 

Rogers had pitched two strong innings the night before, and the Giants feel he's someone who can bounce back. But the Dodgers were seeing Rogers for the fifth time in 17 days. Pollock had faced him a night earlier and flown out on a curveball. 

[RELATED: What you might've missed as Giants blow lead vs. Dodgers]

Kapler disagreed with the notion that the novelty had worn off when it came to the submariner. 

"I think it's not just novelty with Rog, it's the ability to throw strikes with two pitches that are unusual. It's an unusual look. He can attack the strike zone with those two pitches and they're actually just flat-out good pitches," Kapler said. "Pollock made a nice adjustment, got to two strikes and two outs, and he was able to elevate the ball."

The blast cost Gausman a win on a day when he became the first Giants starter to record a quality start this season. Gausman gave up just three hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out six. He made a sour face as he came off the field and threw his gum, and said later that he would have liked an opportunity to finish the seventh. 

"I definitely felt like I had more in the tank. My limit is not 80 pitches, but Kap's job is to make those decisions. That's his job description," Gausman said. "I'm not the one that's calling down to the bullpen and getting guys loose, that type of thing. Obviously I thought I pitched well enough to warrant getting a couple more guys out, but we're trying to win the series and it's a hot day. Maybe those were factors in his decision."