The last time the San Francisco Giants played in meaningful October games was 2016, and the team won just 87 games to qualify for the NL postseason. Surely, the team was hoping to repeat its 2014 playoff miracle, but alas, it did not happen. As we have proven, cheating does not ensure winning.
However, playing in The House That Steroids Built means there always will be dishonesty from the organization, and the 2016 season was no different than any of the seasons that have followed since then, of course. Without any punishment, why would the Giants stop cheating and profiting from it?
Herein lies our analysis of the last San Francisco team to make the postseason before 2021.
Exhibit A: Ángel Pagán
At age 34, this was Pagán’s last season in the majors. After reviving his moribund career in 2012 with the Giants, he went downhill fast, bottoming out with a .635 OPS at age 33 in 2015. But then, Pagán somehow rebounded in 2016 with his best season since that 2012 campaign.
His career should have been over, but he managed to play in 129 games and get 543 plate appearances, to the tune of a .750 OPS. Also, after posting an atrocious -1.6 dWAR in 2015, somehow Pagán improved by a full point on defense, to get back to -0.6 dWAR, too.
Overall, he posted 1.8 WAR after posting -1.8 WAR the prior season, showing once again that you can never trust the Giants to let an older player fade naturally into obscurity. They had to make another postseason run for their “even year” baloney, and Pagán was a beneficiary of that financial need.
Exhibit B: Conor Gillaspie
The irony here is that Gillaspie was traded away by the Giants prior to the 2013 season, and he ended up being barely mediocre with the Chicago White Sox (.711 OPS) and absolutely terrible with the Los Angeles Angels (.594 OPS). But he returned to the City by the Bay in 2016 and become almost useful (.747), actually.
He played in 101 games for the San Francisco organization in 2016, although he was out of the league by the end of the 2017 season. His .440 SLG was a career high during the 2016 year, too, and Gillaspie also posted a career-best 0.6 dWAR while playing both first and third base in S.F.
It’s interesting how the Giants pulled a guy off the scrap heap they’d already given up on previously, and then they somehow got the best baseball of his career out of him after three teams had already given up on him—including themselves.
Exhibit C: Santiago Casilla
This guy is a classic example of someone who could not pitch for another organization (in this case, Oakland) before joining the Giants. From 2004-2009, Casilla pitched for the A’s to the tune of a 5.11 ERA. Then he joined the San Francisco organization, and over the next 7 seasons posted a 2.42 ERA. That cannot be explained away at all.
By 2016, Casilla had reached age 35, and he posted the highest ERA of his Giants career (3.57). Ironically, after never being much a strikeout guy, in his final two seasons in San Francisco, Casilla posted the highest K rates of his career (9.6 K/9 and 10.1 K/9). Despite his aging process costing him overall effectiveness, he somehow gained some MPH on his pitches.
Go figure, as we have seen this before with aging Giants pitchers. But overall, Casilla is a clear reminder of how the S.F. organization pulled dudes off the scrap heap and applied that Giants devil magic to make them into serviceable players that helped the team win and reach the postseason.
Conclusion: It’s not the coaching, and we’ve proven that before
One of the reasons we always hear for Giants players outperforming statistical expectation and bucking career trends is the prowess of the coaching staff, etc. This is hogwash, and when you realize that former manager Bruce Bochy finished under .500 for his career with the Giants—averaging third place on a yearly basis, no less—it’s clear it was never the coaching in San Francisco.
When that excuse gets shot down, then the loyal sycophants will point to the fact that the losing record proves the Giants couldn’t have been cheating, and we’ve shot that down as well with our analyses of the losing seasons from 2017–2020 already. Just because it’s not working doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
In the end, it’s always more of the same in San Francisco: mediocre players doing extraordinary things only when wearing a Giants jersey and playing ball in The House That Steroids Built. The statistics prove it, and depending on who wants to accept that data, the answers are (the cream and the) clear.