Sometimes, things happen in this game that one just can’t wrap their head around.
Case in point: the 2013 San Francisco Giants. Raise your hand if you would’ve guessed the team that has two of the last three World Series Championships would be in last place in August and 14 games under .500.
That’s what I thought.
This Giants team very well could become the first reigning World Series champions since the 1998 Florida Marlins to finish in last place. It looks like San Francisco will at least finish in better shape than the Marlins did. The Giants are 52-66, while Florida went 54-108 that season.
At least, however, the Fish had an excuse for being bad. They had their massive fire sale and got rid of all of their players from their championship team in 1997. As for the Giants, they still have 19 players on their World Series roster from last year, including reigning NL MVP Buster Posey, reigning World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval and four of their five pitchers in their starting rotation.
In fairness to Posey, you can’t exactly blame him. This season, he’s doing his thing like usual, batting .300 with a 149 OPS+. In addition to that, he also has a 4.2 offensive WAR, which is good enough for 6th in the National League.
Meanwhile, Sandoval is not getting on base. He isn’t driving in runs and is struggling to score. His WAR is a whopping 0.3. Perhaps the one game he’ll best be remembered for is his three home run performance in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, in which he became just the fourth player (joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, mind you) in the history of the Fall Classic to achieve such a feat. This year, he has a total of 9 home runs in 100 games played.
Let’s took at that starting rotation that has four starters in tact from that 2012 team that won it all.
Matt Cain finished 6th in Cy Young voting, and 8th the year before. This year, he has a 75 ERA+ and 1.130 WHIP. After being one of the finest pitchers in the game for years, he seems to have lost his touch.
Tim Lincecum is struggling for the second year in a row. What’s sad about him is not that he has lost it. He’s just not doing things on a consistent basis. He was terrific out of the bullpen last year in the postseason, but this year his ERA+ of 80 and 1.268 WHIP are ugly. What’s sad is this Lincecum is perfectly capable of still being Big Time Timmy Jim when he wants to be. If you don’t believe me, look at his July 13 no-hitter against the San Diego Padres, or his one-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers Aug. 8. He has pitched better since his no-hitter, but based on how he was earlier, his overall numbers still leave a lot to be desired.
Let’s not forget Barry Zito. The 35-year-old left hander is making $20 million (you read that right) in 2013, and he is putting up arguably his worst season ever in a Giants uniform, and that is really saying something.
His ERA+ this season is 62 and his WHIP is 1.712. To call that excruciating would be an understatement. It doesn’t seem like that long ago he was brilliant against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5, or in Sandoval’s home run parade against the Detroit Tigers in Game 1. It seems that October magic disappeared into thin air and it’s back to the old Barry Zito.
Oh, and for the record, Zito cleared waivers Wednesday morning. He can now be traded to any team. Good luck finding a willing suitor, Brian Sabean.
The only starter in their rotation who has brought it on a consistent basis is 24-year-old southpaw Madison Bumgarner, who actually has a 122 ERA+ and 0.994 WHIP. Not bad.
It doesn’t seem to make any sense. This team won it all in 2012. They were down 2-0, losing both games at home in the NLDS to the Cincinnati Reds before completing their historic comeback. They were down against the Cardinals 3-1, before wiping them out with a 9-0 exclamation mark victory in Game 7 of the NLCS. Then they went on to become the first NL team since the Reds in 1990 to sweep the World Series, when they shut down a Tigers team that destroyed the New York Yankees in four games over in the ALCS.
Perhaps they’re this year’s Boston Red Sox. Bostonians want to forget last year’s 69-93 last place disaster and the Sox are more than making up for their dreaded 2012 as they currently sit at 72-49 atop the AL East.
This doesn’t appear to be the usual Giants and one has to wonder how this could happen, how this could be possible.
Yet it is happening, right before our very eyes. Maybe it’s just an off year and one to forget. Perhaps they’ll be back in 2014.
Until then, they have 43 games to try to clean up this mess as much as possible.