For months, folks have been expecting the San Francisco Giants to collapse and fall in the National League West standings.
To be fair, it’s hard to blame these people: the Giants were expected to be around .500 by most analysts; and even the majority of the renowned and respected sportswriters expected them to finish no better than third.
As they were constructed in the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres’ rosters appeared better than what San Francisco had.
However, the Giants have not only the top seed in the NL West (besting the Dodgers and the Padres), but they also have the best record in baseball at 102-54.
Not even in president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi’s wildest dreams were the Giants 24 games better than the Padres, but this sport usually rewards talented people who do things right.
Each team has six games left: the Giants will enter a six-game homestand, in which they will face the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks and the already eliminated Padres.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, will also host every game they have left in the regular season calendar: three against the Padres, and three against the Milwaukee Brewers to close out the campaign.
With their two-game advantage against the Dodgers, and an easy set of games (on paper), the Giants should be the favorites to win the NL West crown.
Magic Numbers (win division/eliminated) after games on September 26th
— MLB Magic Numbers ⚾️ (@MLBMagNum) September 27, 2021
Again, only a handful of people saw it coming before the year.
Player Development Has Gotten The Best Out Of Giants’ Hitters
Player development has been a major driving factor behind the Giants’ success.
It appears that the Giants have cracked the code on player development.
— WJM🇺🇸 (@wjm37) September 25, 2021
As a team, San Francisco is a very balanced organization with solid performance on offense.
They are fifth in runs per game, with 5.0, sixth in average with .249, and fourth in OPS with .772.
The Giants have hit the second-most home runs in MLB this season, with 237, which was a pipe dream before the start of the season.
With coaching, training, and the tutelage of a very complete team full of resources, the Giants have gotten the best out of several veterans and unexpected contributors.
The Pitching Is Elite
San Francisco has also helped unheralded pitchers turn into aces.
Kevin Gausman was, for years, a failed Baltimore Orioles prospect, yet he has a 2.87 ERA in 185 innings with San Francisco.
Logan Webb was encouraged to use his changeup more (which he improved during the offseason), and it has paid off handsomely, with a 3.04 ERA in 136.1 frames.
Anthony DeSclafani was plagued by inconsistency in his career with the Cincinnati Reds, yet he boasts a 3.26 ERA with the Giants.
Alex Wood was a similarly “rescued” pitcher.
All in all, San Francisco has shown all year long why they belong in the conversation about MLB’s elite teams.
They are now in prime position to shock the Dodgers and take the division away from them, forcing them to play a one-game Wild Card showdown against the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals.