We have discussed this before, in varying terms: The San Francisco Giants are cheaters. Well, starting this week, we are going to start looking backward periodically at the seasons since the team sold its soul to the devil to find the most-likely candidates to inherit the mantle from Barry Bonds, the self-proclaimed architect behind the House That Steroids Built.
Factually, the Giants were picked to finish fourth in the NL West this year with the pathetic roster they opened the season with (even ESPN, which slobbers all over the club, ranked them 23rd among all teams), but somehow, San Francisco has the best record in baseball right now. For all the hype about their prior manager being “the best ever” … evidently, the organization either found someone worlds better, or else the team is cheating again. You decide.
Exhibit A: Brandon Crawford
A shortstop at age 34 does not suddenly find the Fountain of Youth, unless he’s playing in the House That Steroids Built, of course. Crawford’s previous, full-season OPS high (.782) came in 2015 when he was 28 years old and right in his prime. That is normal.
Yet, last year at age 33, his OPS improved to .792 after seasons of .709, .719, and .654 just prior. After that last number from the 2019 season, Crawford looked very washed up at age 32 and in serious decline. That is common, actually, as players peak between ages 27-31 and then decline at varying paces. The problem was the Giants still owed this guy $30M in salary for 2020 and 2021.
So, what happens? Crawford somehow recovers in the short season of 2020 to post a career-best OPS. Okay, it was a 54-game sample for him, and that can be considered an anomaly. The longer a season goes on, an older player gets tired and plays worse. Maybe 2020 was a fluke, right?
Nope. Crawford is now posting an .889 OPS, which would be a career best by almost 100 points at an age when he should be in steep decline based on his normal 2017-2019 slide, due to age. Remember when Baseball Prospectus referred to “Giants devil magic” for the team’s ability to turn mediocre minor leaguers into productive major leagers? That’s what this is … yet again.
Exhibit B: Kevin Gausman
This is an interesting case study, as Gausman has never been a good pitcher at all. His career ERA, even including this year’s miraculous effort, is 4.03 overall, yet at age 30, he suddenly has learned how to pitch to the tune of a 2.31 ERA. His K rate also jumped very suspiciously starting in the 2019 season, the year before he joined the Giants organization.
In the latter half of 2018 with Atlanta, he was striking out just 6.6 batters per 9 IP, but then in the first half of 2019 with the Braves, Gausman was suddenly gassing batters at a 9.6 Ks per 9 IP clip. And after Atlanta dumped him and his 6.19 ERA on the Cincinnati Reds, that K rate jumped even higher over his final 20-plus innings of the 2019 season (to 11.7 Ks per 9 IP).
Of course, this would attract the Giants, tapped financially and burdened with bad contracts after three straight losing seasons heading into 2020. In 192 IP with S.F. since the start of the 2020 season, Gausman suddenly has posted a 2.72 ERA and an 11.1 K/9 rate. Since he never really had a “peak” in his career, there is the outlier possibility that he is discovered his mojo late in the game.
But it’s not probable: His ERA in Atlanta (4.77) and Cincinnati (4.03) were still atrocious and mediocre, respectively. Evidently, the Giants pitching coaches must know something the Braves staff did not, which is odd considering Atlanta has made the postseason three straight times running now. You’d think that team had good coaches or something, right? They cleared saw nothing they wanted in Gausman, but S.F. strikes gold? Uh huh.
Conclusion: What else is there to assume?
For a team with a history of deceit and fraud, it’s hard not to assume some realities here—just another reason we cannot take MLB seriously any more. Statistics do not lie, and these two stat lines for the two best players (4.8 WAR for Gausman, and 4.1 for Crawford) on the Giants this season were not projectable or even imaginable in this era of acute statistical analysis. To wit, Fantasy Pros projected the following stat lines for these two guys:
We’re not even talking about catcher Buster Posey, either, who has a suspect career already, and is now posting a .951 OPS after not coming anywhere near that number since his age-25 season back in 2012. Fantasy Pros projected him for a .711 OPS this year, by the way, and fantasy projections are based on past performance, historical trends, and every predictive measurement you can think of to put in an algorithm.
One player posting improbable numbers is an anomaly; two is a coincidence. Three players doing it at the same time is a pattern, and with the Giants’ established practice of deceit and fraud, well … draw your own conclusions. We have: The S.F. Giants cheat just as much as the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros, and yet somehow, the team gets a major pass from everyone on it despite the fact it literally plays in The House That Steroids Built.
Interesting take. I thought the Giants were playing waaaay over their heads and would return to earth in the second half, but that hasn’t seemed to happen. I understand that baseball is anomalistic, but the numbers that you show here showing players putting up career-high OPS when an average player is typically on a decline are ridiculous and mind-boggling. I’m sure Bill James is scratching his head over this team because I know I certainly am.
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