This wasn’t supposed to happen, but the defending champion Dodgers and star-studded Padres trail your San Francisco Giants in the standings — as does every other team in Major League Baseball.
The big stories in baseball this year were supposed to be dominance of the defending champion Dodgers, who’d added Cy Young Award winner and major league asshole Trevor Bauer to their rotation, and the Padres, who nabbed superstar pitcher Yu Darvish for their packed roster of stars. These two teams with a wealth of all-stars were supposed to battle it out for the NL West crown, a divisional battle that figured to be the most entertaining in baseball.
But as we’re now a little more than a third of the way through the season, both these teams are eating the Giants’ dust. Check the MLB standings and you will see that the Giants are not only leading the NL West, they have the best record in baseball.
Spent some time around the Giants, trying to make sense of the best team in baseball. https://t.co/WFkcb3kpti— Tim Keown (@TimKeownESPN) June 11, 2021
ESPN notes the Giants’ unexpected success in a terrific longform piece today, calling them “baseball's best and most intriguing/mystifying/idiosyncratic/just plain weird team.” Last year’s season was supposed to be a rebuild, yet the team came within a game of making the (admittedly expanded) playoffs. They were not given much chance to do so this year, as seen by the below FanGraphs playoff odds that gave them a mere 5% chance of making the playoffs at the season’s start. Those odds are now substantially better!
“I don’t think any of us were predicting we’d have the best record in baseball,” Giants president Farhan Zaidi admitted to the Chronicle. Certainly the team is pitching really well with a rotation that no one expected to pitch well, and none of these fellows appears to be guilty in the burgeoning “foreign substances” Spider Tack scandal. But this Giants team does not even have one legitimate superstar, unless you count the aging and increasingly limited Buster Posey.
And limiting Posey has helped him flourish, particularly after he opted out out of the “COVID year” last season. Per ESPN, “Posey does not catch three games in a row, and he no longer plays first base on days he isn't catching.” Buster currently has 10 home runs on the season, which is hardly outstanding, but he only had seven all season in 2019, and just five in 2018.
There will probably be some sentimental wins powered by the recent bad news about TV and radio announcer Duane Kuiper, who put out the above statement this week that he “was diagnosed with a medical condition that requires me to immediately begin chemotherapy treatment” and he “may be missing a few more Giants broadcasts than usual.” Kuiper is a former Giants second baseman, so he’s not just any broadcaster to the players. But the team was good before Kuiper’s diagnosis, so it’s not like his condition provided some emotional lift that wasn't there before. We’ll keep Kuip in our thoughts.
And it’s neat the Giants wore Pride rainbow colors, but that was just a one-game thing. And their division lead over the Dodgers is just a 1.5-game thing, so it could evaporate this weekend. The Giants are in Washington playing the Nationals all weekend, and in their absence, of course, Frameline is using the ballpark for Pride Movie Night both Friday and Saturday.
Top image: Mike Tauchman #29 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates with Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants and Brandon Crawford #35 of the San Francisco Giants after hitting a grand slam home run against the Texas Rangers in the top of the eighth inning at Globe Life Field on June 08, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)