San Francisco Unified School District teachers union has released a statement that they will no longer teach 16 as an even number. “BeliEVEN” was not to be, as the San Francisco Giants bullpen was once again unable to save a game. In what can only be described as a microcosm of their season, the Giants blew a 5-2 lead heading into the ninth inning to the visiting Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series. The Giants’ front office will now resign themselves to scouring the universe for capable relievers.
The Giants entered 2016 looking and feeling strong. The Giants were 57-33, good for the best record in the sport. Midway through the season, critics were nonexistent and a championship appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, the arms disappeared in the first week and a losing streak ensued. Then, the defense played lights out, but the bats went silent. 42 losses and thirty wins spelled disaster for the group, but the team was able to clinch a Wild Card playoff berth the last day of the regular season.
However, Giants fans remained confident, citing evidence from the magical 2014 postseason run from a Wild Card position, and the 2010 championship from a playoff berth secured in the last game of the regular season.
Even while Las Vegas and prediction models were skeptical, Giants fans remained steadfast.
Pitching carried the Giants; despite finishing nineteenth in runs scored, San Francisco possessed the seventh largest run differential. However, pitching prowess never extended to the bullpen. Sabermetric analysis agrees; Giants starters had the sixth best wins above replacement (WAR), a statistic which measures the advantage a team receives from a player as compared to a AAA counterpart, from their starting rotation, yet their bullpen struggled to the tune of the 22nd best WAR in the sport.
Following a regular season marred by a record 28 blown saves, Will Smith blew the Giants’ second save of the postseason, eliminating them from contention. Smith leaves fans and analysts alike wondering where the 87-win team might have been with a better bullpen. In the upcoming offseason, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Jake Peavy, and Gordon Beckham are due to become free agents.
Even though they combine for fourteen championships, it is a possibility that none return to the black and orange. Quality relievers tend to be priced above market value. Additionally, the farm system is one of the worst in baseball, only worsened by the deadline deals which shipped away top prospects gambling on 2016 success.San Francisco has issues to work out leading up to 2017 Spring Training.
Their 2016 disappointment behind them, the future holds promise behind proven manager Bruce Bochy, and a strong core of All-Stars in Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, and Madison Bumgarner. Winning may not be everything, but it has been the Giants’ thing for the past six years. Although one dynasty may have come to an end, that does not spell doom for the franchise.
A revamped roster may provide the spark needed to earn more hardware, but the front office has a lot of work ahead of them.