By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO — Now that the Giants have achieved some level of competency by surpassing the .500 mark in 2019, know that these two statistical numbers weigh heavily on the mind of GM Farhan Zaidi as the July 31 trade deadline fast approaches.
The Giants have hit 108 home runs this season, 30 fewer than the Major League average, 65 fewer than the Dodgers, and 83 fewer than the Twins, who are threatening to smash the major league record for home runs in a season and become the first team to hit 300.
Entering play Wednesday afternoon, the Giants had won 17 of 20, becoming only the second team to win so frequently over a 20-game stretch in 2019 (Dodgers). And what has that hot stretch earned the scrappy, upwardly-mobile Giants?
According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Giants have just a 13 percent chance to qualify for the playoffs, despite passing six NL clubs during their hot streak.
Disbelieving of what you just read? Believe this: the Giants winning ways were interrupted Wednesday in a 4-1 loss to the Cubs, as Chicago sluggers went deep three times off San Francisco starter Tyler Beede in the first four innings.
And the Giants’ offense? You had to ask.
Leadoff batter Brandon Belt, who’s not really a leadoff batter, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Tuesday night’s hero, Pablo Sandoval was 0 for 3 with a walk, and the Giants managed just five hits, no home runs and one run against fill-in starter Tyler Chatwood and a pair of Cubs relievers. Alex Dickerson, the Giants’ preferred cleanup hitter was out of the starting lineup for the second time in three games, dealing with back issues.
“They’ve got to be running on fumes,” said manager Bruce Bochy, referencing his Giants’ grueling schedule that saw them conclude a stretch of 14 games in 13 days on Wednesday. “They were doing all they could to get this one. We just came up short but the fight was there.”
Throw all that information into your baseball diamond-calibrated computer, and what spits out?
Buy or sell?
Sell is the smart move.
Of course, it’s buy.
In reality, it’s complicated like a personal profile on Facebook. The Giants are red-hot, but it might not much matter if they don’t tear it up in San Diego over the weekend, then fill up on the Phillies next week in Philadelphia.
Simply, it’s an four-game schedule, and the 2019 Giants will be defined by what they do in the first half of the upcoming road swing. Lose, three of four, fall below .500 and it would be prudent for the club to sell. Win three of four, and the front office and the team put all their focus on catching the Cardinals, Brewers and Phillies.
“Everyone wants to win, whether it’s players, coaches or the front office,” said Stephen Vogt. “I think everybody in this building wants to win, and we’re going to do everything it takes.”
One last statistical snap shot of the completed home stand: the Giants won 5 of 7, but were outscored 27-22.
On Friday, Jeff Samardzija takes the hill for the Giants at Petco Park. At presstime, the Padres had not named a starter for any of the three games in the series.