It took a quarter of the 2017 MLB season for the San Francisco Giants to find that elusive sweet stride that losing teams search for and players often feel is just out of reach.
Over the last twelve games the Giants have gone 9-3 after starting the season with a disastrous 11-23 record.
The streak started with a 6-5 May 10th win against the Mets in New York. Over the twelve game stretch the Giants played five games against losing teams (one with the Mets, four with the Cincinnati Reds), and seven games against winning teams (three with the Dodgers, three with St. Louis, and one against the Cubs).
San Francisco hitters have scored an average of 4.25 runs per game in the current stretch, holding their opponents to 3.58 R/G. Giants starters stepped up by averaging 6.6 innings per start, giving the team’s shaky bullpen some much needed breathing room.
But one thing we know about the National League West is that it is rough country in 2017.
The Colorado Rockies are in first place and their 29-17 record is the best in the NL. The Arizona Diamondbacks are two games behind in second place and the surging Los Angeles Dodgers are only 2.5 games out.
So the Giants just had their best stretch of the season and went from ten games out of 1st place on May 10th to nine games out on May 22nd.
And the team’s -61 run differential is still the second worst in the Majors (the Padres still hold serve with a -85 DIFF). Maybe most concerning is that San Francisco is still 30th out of 30 teams with only 38 home runs.
With little chance of making impact upgrades at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Giants are paying for three critical franchise-damaging decisions that continue to haunt this team.
First, neglecting impact player development at the minor league level for the past ten years. For every Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner there are hundreds of wasted draft picks and less than league-average players populating their lackluster farm system.
Second, ownership pretended for years to be a “small market” team unable to compete with big spending teams. The San Francisco Giants are actually among the top four richest and most valuable franchises in MLB history.
The worst example this season of the team’s tightfisted approach to their roster is the disturbing sight of Eduardo Nunez trying to play left field. Other eye-covering moments come while watching Denard Span in center field and at the plate.
And the third franchise-damaging decision is ownership and management’s disdain of the game’s various progressive movements over the past fifteen years, which has left the Giants lost in the dust of innovation. Their celebration of ignoring and using less information shows a remarkable level of ignorance.
But for now, this team is on its best run of the long 2017 season. Striving to climb the steep and slippery mountain known as the NL West, and showing some recent success, is something truly worth celebrating.