Statistical analysis in sports is the best it has ever been, so when a team like the 2021 San Francisco Giants outperforms its projections by 30-plus victories, you know something is amiss. This is why we have kept an eye on The House That Steroids Built for most of the MLB season this year.
Now, it’s time for the postseason, and here is what fivethirtyeight.com projects for the MLB playoffs:
- The Los Angeles Dodgers are 2-to-1 favorites to beat the Giants in the National League Division Series;
- L.A. has a 54-percent chance to beat S.F. in Game 1;
- The Dodgers have a 54-percent chance to beat the Giants again in Game 2;
- And Los Angeles has a 66-percent chance to beat San Francisco in Game 3.
Now, we know it’s baseball, and anything can happen—and it often does. But the Dodgers have the pitching and the hitting to bury the Giants quickly in this 5-game series. Sweeps don’t occur much in baseball postseason, or at least they should not, because even the worst teams beat the best teams two times out of three during the regular season. That’s just baseball.
However, let’s look back at the postseason series the Giants won in 2010, 2012, and 2014, many of which they had no business winning based on advanced sabermetrics at the time:
- 2010: San Francisco (rated sixth in MLB) beat Atlanta (No. 7), Philadelphia (No. 3), and Texas (No. 8) to win its first World Series since 1954. The Braves, the Giants, and the Rangers all had the same SRS rating, in truth, so they were separated by mathematical slivers;
- 2012: The Giants (rated 13th [!] in MLB) beat Cincinnati (No. 12), St. Louis (No. 9), and Detroit (No. 8) on the way to a very improbable World Series title against three better teams. The odds of San Francisco beating those three superior teams in a row were miniscule, indeed.
- 2014: S.F. (rated 11th in MLB) beat Pittsburgh (No. 10), Washington (No. 4), St. Louis (No. 16), and Kansas City (No. 9) as they won the World Series again against all odds, with a roster deplete of actual talent—which we will explore on Monday in our next THTSB miniseries entry, in truth.
As you can see, the organization has a history of bucking the odds recently to somehow win the elusive MLB championships that eluded it for 56 seasons with players like Willie Mays, among others, on the roster. And we all know the Giants cheated in 1951, too, long before the Game of Shadows era.
We predicted this NLDS matchup back in July to all who would listen, and now here we are. What MLB wants out of this financially is anyone’s guess, but with the Dodgers losing World Series to the cheating Houston Astros in 2017 and the cheating Boston Red Sox in 2018, it would be a darn shame to see the L.A. organization lose to another cheating team in this year’s postseason, that’s for sure.