In the month that I (unwillingly) took off from covering the Giants, everything that could have went wrong went wrong. My last entry in the Giants Mediocrity Journal™ was how the Giants were somehow still in the playoff hunt after taking two of three from the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Andrew McCutchen hit a clutch three-run homer in the final game of that series. That game on August the 15th was the last meaningful game the Giants played this season. They were swept in Cincinnati by the Reds and scored six runs in three games. The effectively ended their playoff aspirations, even though they clawed their way back to .500 a couple more times. September started off in the most 2018 Giants way possible in losing 11 (!!) games in a row, tying a record from 1951. After watching maybe the most atrocious baseball displays for 11 consecutive games, how can you, a troubled Giants fan enjoy the final 13 games of the season? Here are three things to watch:
- The Kids
- The Vets
- The Old Guard
The Giants have had a lot of exciting youth come up after the semi fire sale of Andrew McCutchen, with Aramis Garcia and Chris Shaw getting a real look at the big league level. Shaw has been a bit slow adjusting to Major League pitching, but Garcia burst onto the scene with a homerun in his first game and has continued to hit well in a small sample. These prospects go along with all the other players that 25 and younger getting most of the at bats like Austin Slater, Alen Hanson to go with Garcia and Shaw. Of course, this does not even talk about the young pitchers like Derek Rodriguez (who has a 2.30 ERA, which would be second in the National League), Andrew Suarez, and most of the bullpen. These kids have shown a lot of heart and could be big contributors in 2019. Therefore, their performance to end this season is important to use as a springboard into next year.
Even though young players are occupying most positions and understandably so, there are still some veterans that need to be appreciated before the season ends. Gregor Blanco was cut in a roster crunch earlier in the season and came back up with the injury to Steven Dugger and has filled in at replacement level in what could be his final big league season. For most Giants fans, Blanco is a very sentimental player, with key roles on the 2012 and 2014 World Series teams after being a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. Oh, and the Matt Cain perfect game. Along with Blanco, we could be seeing the final games for Giants legend Hunter Pence. He has not hit all year, even spending extended time in the minors to try and figure it out earlier this season. His defense has deteriorated and when the Giants were competitive, he was relegated to the bench. However, in the most Hunter Pence thing to do, he became the teams #1 cheerleader. I always saw him cheering his team on in the dugout and was the first guy to congratulate anyone when they got into the dugout. We must enjoy Hunter Pence and all his awkwardness before he moves on this offseason, whether that be to retirement or another organization.
It pains me to say that the Giants have basically been bad for two and a half consecutive seasons. 2016 was only a success because of their record first half of the season, in which they almost choked away a playoff spot. 2017 was… 2017. 2018 showed most fans, even the casual ones, that the Giants are bad and suck the fun out of the game we all love to watch because of the offensive ineptitude and ability to almost win games. The magic of the early 2010s is dead and this year proved it. Buster Posey, or Captain America in the Northern California area, needed season ending hip surgery. Brandon Belt had an appendectomy and his power was taken along with his appendix. Brandon Crawford rode the hottest two months I have ever seen straight into the worst slump I have ever seen. Joe Panik struggled with injuries and bad luck. Madison Bumgarner has had his moments, but still has been overall pretty meh. These were all players the Giants needed to win games and they all seem to be entering decline. Could the Giants blow it up this offseason? Yes. Will they? I don’t think so. However, I do believe if they are given the right offer they will not decline. Andrew McCutchen was basically assured to be staying until the Yankees offered two top 30 prospects for 25 games. These could be (most likely not) the last games we see with our favorite heroes who brought us three World Series in the cream and orange. We should savor every snot rocket, bat drop, and Crawnik double play, because who knows how many more we will get.
I’ll write another long-ish article reviewing my old articles from the season, which should be interesting. I thought they were going to make the playoffs for a good long while. They were tickling my nose for the whole season and I refused to sneeze. I wanted to believe that maybe just one more time the even year magic would come back. I wanted to see Alen Hanson become Marco Scutaro and stare up into the rain as the Giants advanced to the World Series against the Astros. I wanted to see Dereck Rodriguez become Ryan Vogelsong and pitch huge innings in the postseason. I wanted to see Buster Posey hit some opposite field homers. The 2018 season sucked all the good that was ever present and made them all dislocate shoulders and tear knees and hips and such. Enjoy the final 13, and if we’re lucky, we get to eliminate the Dodgers from playoff contention.