The Giants Have Come Out Of Nowhere

Pio Romo, Staff Reporter

The 2021 MLB season is well underway, and of course, as is always the case, pundits and fans alike have set their usually agreeable expectations for teams around the league. Of course, some teams will fail, meet or exceed these expectations. However, there is one team who has seemingly exceeded their expectations, by a lot. That team is the San Francisco Giants. 

According to fivethirtyeight.com’s prediction model, the Giants were prevised to have a record of 80-82 this season, putting them at a win percentage of 0.493 and at 4th place in the NL West (second to last). The model also gave them a 20% chance to make the playoffs. 

The results of the model can seem confusing at first, to baseball fans and especially Giants fans. Last year, the Giants were just a tiebreaker away from making the expanded playoffs, certainly exceeding expectations that year. So perhaps, the model concluded that the 2020 season was a fluke year. This was the belief among the majority of baseball fans, as well as Giants fans (myself included). I expressed the mutual feeling with all baseball fans that the Giants definitely played way over their heads last year. 

How about this year? As of May 3, 2021, the Giants hold a 17-11 record, the first place spot in the NL West, and the second best record in the MLB. Obviously, this is a bit of a surprise for everyone. Granted, we are still early in the season, and anything can happen. It will be interesting to continue to monitor this situation as the season progresses. The Giants are not in an easy division, sharing the NL West with the powerhouse Dodgers, as well as the rising Padres, both trailing the Giants in their division. 

This unprecedented success has many people scratching their head. What explains the sudden success of Giants baseball? Many point to the Giants pitching rotation. Familiar faces include Logan Webb and Johnny Cueto. Farhan Zaidi, the GM of the San Francisco Giants, also added veterans Aaron Sanchez and Alex Wood  during the off-season in hopes of a career revivals.

So far, so good, but the icing on the cake was re-signing pitcher Kevin Gausman. Gausman is one of many other players that revived their careers in San Francisco, originally signing a one-year deal as a free agent back in 2019. After having a great season last year, he accepted an offer from the Giants to stay in San Francisco. This season, Gausman currently holds a 2.04 ERA, good enough for 6th best in the MLB.

Pitcher Kevin Gausman (Orlando Ramirez)

And who better to hold the 5th best ERA in the league then fellow San Francisco Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani? DeScalfani was another signing by Zaidi that the organization hoped could turn it around, and he certainly has. Holding a 2.00 ERA, along with 33 strikeouts and a complete game shut-out, DeScalfani is showing the league how good this Giants rotation has been. As a matter of fact, Giants pitching has been among the best in the league, ranking 4th in the MLB in ERA.

Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (Orlando Ramirez )

The defense that backs the strong pitching core has also contributed to the success of the team. The defense is underrated by most critics, and not being talked about enough, especially considering they rank #1 among the league in fielding percentage, as well as total errors. Number 1! The San Francisco Giants currently have the best defense in the league. In terms of individual players, 1B Brandon Belt currently ranks 7th among all first baseman, 3B Evan Longoria ranks 1st among all third baseman, SS Brandon Crawford ranks 1st among all shortstops, LF Alex Dickerson ranks 12th among all left fielders, and RF Mike Yastrzemski is tied for 1st among all right fielders. Defense certainly wins championships!

SS Brandon Crawford and 2B Tommy La Stella attempt to catch a ball (Nhat V. Meyer )

Now, obviously, it’s great if your defense and pitching continue to shut out teams. However, if you want to win games, the offense is going to have to score! Currently, statistics tell us that the Giants rank just below average in hitting, ranking 19th in the league. This stat can be misleading however, as it seems every game the Giants offense is bashing balls left and right. Remember earlier in the article when I mentioned DeSclafani’s shutout? The Giants won that game 12-0. After opting out of last season, star catcher Buster Posey has been hitting .382, as well as leading the team with 7 home runs. The Giants offense also ranks 7th in the league in home runs. This power-hitting offense has definitely been performing and serving as a compliment to the high-caliber defense.

1B Brandon Belt watches his 3-run HR fly (David Zalubowski)

However, it is still relatively early in the season, so many people are rightfully questioning the longevity of this team. Regardless, many Giants fans have high hopes for this team that has come out of nowhere. The dream is that this year, the Giants won’t fall short again and will make a playoff run. Who knows what the future holds, but it definitely looks promising.