It is definitely a sprint to the finish line for teams around baseball. With under 20 games remaining, 17 teams sit either in a playoff spot or within four games of the 10 total playoff spots.
Despite that competition, one team has already locked a playoff spot up as the San Francisco Giants magic number to the postseason is down to zero. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the San Francisco Giants and how they stack up in the playoffs.
At 95-50, the Giants have the best record in baseball and sit 2.5 games ahead of the Dodgers in the division.
Currently, the Giants have the sixth-easiest remaining schedule as their opponents have a combined .474 winning percentage. Of their 17 games, they have three against the Braves, eight against the Padres, three against the Diamondbacks and three against the Rockies.
While the Dodgers will fight until the very end, the Giants are currently the favorites to win the NL West at -165.
Defying The Odds This Year
Even though the Giants hold the best record in MLB, this isn’t what most expected. San Francisco was originally given just a 1.2% chance of making the playoffs before the season started.
In fact, the Giants were projected to have less wins than the Diamondbacks (73.5 versus 75.5). For reference, Arizona is currently last in the NL West, 48 games behind the Giants.
So, how did they do it? Here is a breakdown of the Giants’ team.
The Giants have posted impressive numbers all season long. They currently rank seventh in scoring (4.95 runs per game), seventh in batting average (.248), third in slugging percentage (.441), and fifth in on-base percentage (.328).
San Francisco has been getting production up and down the order, but there are a couple players that stand out. Brandon Crawford has been outstanding at shortstop this year. He is currently hitting .297/.372/.513 with 20 home runs, 80 runs batted in, 67 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.
His strong season earned him a two-year extension earlier in the season from the Giants. He is also in the NL MVP race. While he is a longshot, he is currently +15000 to win the award.
Kris Bryant is also in the conversation for NL MVP, although he sits at +25000. Having been acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago Cubs, Bryant is hitting .273/.342/.477 with six home runs, 15 runs batted in, and 22 runs in 35 games for the Giants.
Other strong performers for the Giants include Brandon Belt (.260 avg, 24 HR), Mike Yastrzemski (23 HR, 71 runs), Buster Posey (.301 avg, 18 HR), and Wilmer Flores (.254 avg, 18 HR).
For as good as the offense has been, the defense for the Giants has been even better. They currently rank second in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 3.66 runs per game. The pitching staff also ranks second in earned run average at 3.24.
San Francisco’s best pitcher has been Kevin Gausman. The 30-year-old righty is 14-5 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and he has 201 strikeouts in 170 innings pitched.
Gausman has the sixth-best odds of winning the NL Cy Young award at +5000.
Anthony DeSclafani (12-6, 3.24 ERA), Logan Webb (10-3, 2.80 ERA), Alex Wood (10-4, 4.08 ERA), and Johnny Cueto (7-7, 4.09 ERA) have also been solid in the rotation.
The Giants’ bullpen has been led by Jake McGee (3-2, 2.72 ERA, 31 saves) and Tyler Rogers (6-1, 1.65 ERA, 12 saves).
Likely First Matchup
This is where the MLB postseason bracket almost seems unfair. If they win the division and finish with the best record in the NL, they would face the winner of the Wild Card matchup.
Usually, this is something to embrace as you get a team that is coming off of a one-game playoff and probably burns their ace.
The problem, though, is this would likely mean a first round matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers currently have the second-best record in all of baseball and have three aces on their pitching staff in Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer.
Area of Concern
As previously mentioned, the biggest area of concern is simply their first-round matchup. Despite trailing in the division, the Dodgers are the favorites to win the World Series at +270, while the Giants are +700 to win it all.
On the season, the two have faced off 19 times with the Giants holding a 10-9 edge. Regardless, if the Dodgers make it to them, their first round matchup with Los Angeles would probably be their toughest in the postseason.
Can They Win The World Series?
Without a doubt, the answer to this question is yes. With a division that features the Dodgers and Padres, to not only be leading the division, but to also have the best record in all of baseball is a testament to how good this team is.
Granted, it won’t be an easy road to get to the World Series, but with a rock solid offense and defense, the Giants certainly have the capability of making a run towards their first World Series championship since 2014.