Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Holding Strong 2018 Draft Pick Position

As I wrote about last month, the Giants are headed for a high draft pick position overall in 2018, and they have continued to keep the pace.  And not only held serve, but gained some, falling beneath the White Sox to hold the #2 position now by 1.5 games over the ChiSox, losing a road series to their depleted (after trading off a bunch of their top players) team.  The Phillies hold the first pick, a game ahead of the Giants.  (this was mostly written before today's game)

ogc thoughts

Since my last post on this, the Giants have "gained" two games by losing more than the Phillies or White Sox since then.  They accomplished this by playing at a major's near worse of 6-14 in their last 20 games.  Only the Dodgers have played worse in that stretch, at 4-16.  All the other teams that were close that I covered in the last post won at least 8 games (only Tigers kept "pace" by going 7-13).  And the Phillies, Reds and Mets went 9-11, and the A's and Padres went .500, 10-10.

They are 5.5 games ahead of the 4th place Tigers, 6.5 games ahead of the Reds, 8 games ahead of the A's and Mets.  With 17 games left to play, at 56-89, they would need to play "hot" while these other teams play colder, for any of them to overtake the Giants position.
  1. The Phillies has 19 games left, and tied with the Giants with 89 losses, and is ahead by one game.  Their strength of schedule (SoS) per Baseball-Reference.com is -0.1 runs below average (Giants are at 0.0), so the Giants could conceivably catch up, since the Phillies are playing weaker than average opponents and perhaps do better.  And they went 9-11 in their last 20 games.
  2. The Giants are second with 17 games left.  Looking ahead and behind, it looks like a three team race to be first in the draft, with the Phillies possibly falling back to the Giants, and the White Sox catching up.  Though, frankly, not sure how SoS came up with 0.0 for the Giants.  They face the Dodgers 6 games and the D-backs 6 games, plus 2 games against the Rockies, and 3 last games against the Padres, which are at home.  Perhaps because they have 11 games at home and only 6 on the road, that evened things out.  But the Giants are 32-38 at home for the season, and only the Phillies are worse at home.
  3. The White Sox has 20 games left, and tied with the Giants at 56 wins.  They will have to lose their 3 extra games and match the Giants otherwise to catch up.  They have a 0.2 runs above average SoS, as they are facing the Astros and Indians.  If they are still close at the last series, they catch up most likely because they face the Indians.  If the Giants go 8-9, the White Sox has to go 8-12, which is roughly the .393 winning percentage that they are at right now.  So this looks doable for White Sox to catch up with the Giants, but they really need to play poorer to ensure that.
  4. The Tigers has 20 games left, and are 5.5 games behind, with a 0.2 SoS.  If the Giants go 8-9, the Tigers would have to go 4-16 to tie.  If the Giants play worse, they basically would have to lose every game (heck, at 4-16, that is basically losing every game to most people).
And obviously, it is even worse for the teams behind the Tigers (Reds would need to go 2-16 to catch 8-9 Giants), so I won't cover them.  Basically, barring a historical stretch of losing (hello, Dodgers), none of these other teams are going to catch the Giants.  

Top 3 Pick Looks Assured

It pretty much looks like the Giants got a Top 3 pick locked down, barring any sudden hot streak.

What if they get hot?  Their best streak was 9-3, if they do that plus play normal .400 ball, that's 11-6 over their last games, putting them at 67-95.  The Tigers would still need to lose big to tie, going 7-13 in their last games, which is not impossible, but a .350 winning percentage vs. .422 seasonal winning percentage; still, they were 7-13 in their last 20 games, a .350 winning percentage, so it is not like they haven't lost badly over such a stretch of games, making it look possible.

But the Giants have not been able to put together any long streak of winning.  Their best run this season over 20 games was 11-9.  And the Giants face the Dodgers and D-backs six more games each (Giants are 6-7 and 5-8 against them, respectively).  And 5-12 against the Rockies, 5-11 against the Padres, they somehow played LA strong, but rolled over against the rest of the NL West.  If the Giants played to those records against these teams, they end up either 6-11 or 7-10, which would ensure that the Tigers don't catch them.

So barring the Giants getting hot AND the Tigers getting cold, they should stay in the Top 3 picks.  And the Giants have not gotten above .500 very often over such a stretch of games, once most probably.  The Tigers do play a stronger set of teams, per SoS, but they will have to play down a lot in order to catch the Giants, and the odds are low that the Giants can even maintain a .500 winning percentage (though, this is probably as good the chance as it'll be, with Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Moore, and Stratton in the starting rotation, and mostly doing well over the last month or so, except in latest starts).  A top 3 draft spot should be a lock.

Which Pick?

As I noted above, the teams are pretty much in a dead heat, particularly looking at SoS.   Too hard to say which pick the Giants will end up with, it really depends greatly on who gets hot, relatively, and who gets cold, relatively, and that could swing the rank around willy-nilly, day to day, really, as it was during this last series that the Giants had with the White Sox, falling behind when they won the first games of the series, then losing the next two.


  1. The way the Giants are going, I'm not sure anyone is going to 'catch' us, as it were. I mean, things could get better or some other team could really fall apart and lose-out. But the Giants are playing so badly now it's embarrassing.


    1. As I tried to show with the math above, it would take a huge hot streak on the Giants part and huge loss streak on the part of someone behind for the Giants to get pushed out of the Top 3 picks for next season.

      Yes, it is very embarrassing. Yet, it seems like if we could sign a great defensive CF who could be OK offensively, it would make a huge difference to our pitching, which has had to deal with a lot of dink hits and misplayed catches.

      Of course, it means that our guys mostly need to revert to past hitting performances, which is not a guarantee, and yet, after a poor two month start, the team has hit .258/.319/.394/.712 since the start of June, averaging 4.29 RS per game, which is still below average, but if, say, an average starting 3B, Belt playing the full season, and Posey slugging his normal ISO instead of below 100, our offense would be average. We can win with average offense, if we can be good with pitching.

      And, assuming it really is blisters hurting Cueto's performance, then with Bumgarner and Cueto being co-aces again in 2018, I think we can handle the ups and downs of the other three starters, like we did for most of 2016.

      And with hopefully Smith and Melancon coming back, and Dyson, Strickland, and Crick being solid enough set-up guys, our bullpen is looking pretty good as well.

      So as much as the Merc and Chronicle sees the sky falling, I think that there is a scenario where we can come out of this playoff competitive in 2018, while also getting a top 3 prospect overall. I see a little bit of a 1985 bad year with a rebound in the next season, and soon after that, hopefully a boost from whomever we get in the 2018 draft, in 2020-21.

      Lots of unknowns, but that's sports (except for the Warriors, maybe), and I like the Giants chances in 2018, assuming some rebound by our core players. But it could be a tipping point downward, so we will see.

      In any case, I'm heartened by the fact that we get a Top 3 pick, and if we have another bad season, another top pick in 2019. That could set us up for a great final run with the core guys in 2020-2025

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. With 4 games left, Bumgarner shut down because there's no reason to start him again, we're a half-game 'ahead' of the Phillies for #1. The Phillies have 5 games left.

    This race is going down to the wire.

    1. Wow, thanks for pointing this out! I did see that Bumgarner was being skipped, but I didn't catch that this would be a move to reduce our chances to win and aim for a better draft pick, until my comment made the connection for me.

      With Cain retiring as a Giants, the longest Giants tenure without playing for another team ever in franchise history (I think Baggarly noted that), the Giants wanted to honor him one last time by giving him the start on Saturday and conveniently took out our best pitcher while throwing out Cain, who has been mediocre at best, as a starter since leaving the starting rotation.

      At this moment, we are actually a game "ahead" of the Phillies, but half-game ahead of Detroit, who has tanked big time - 1-9 over last 10 games, making up four games on the Giants during that period. They have five games left, and would have to lose to tie for worse record. White Sox are 2.5 games back, with 5 games left (4 for us), and basically would need to lose all 5 and Giants win 2 of 4.

      From what I understand, both the Tigers and Phillies would end up with the higher pick if they tie the Giants, per a beat writer's article (I think Baggarly) on the Giants pick.

      So the Giants are still on track to end with a Top 3 pick, and most likely will end up with a Top 2 pick, but unlikely to end up with the top pick because of the tie situation costing them the pick, since they had a better record in 2016 than the others.

    2. Ugh, your comment, not my. My mind and hands have not been connecting well lately...

    3. We got Samardzija, Stratton, Cain, Cueto going in the last four games.

      As well as the Shark has been pitching, peripheral-wise, his seasonal numbers are average at best, though good lately, 3.76 ERA the last 7 starts. However, like many pitching in AZ, career 4.89 ERA in Chase and 5.46 ERA as a starter there. Still, he has pitched well there in 2016 for the Giants, though poorly this season. Looks like probably a bad start for him, improving our chances for a loss.

      Still, only facing Shipley, who has 4.66 ERA in last seven starts. And a rookie, so we don't know his performance level, though he hasn't faced SF as a starter before, and these newbies seem to always have the Giants number. Looks like a loss, but if Shipley implodes, who knows.

      Stratton has a 5.14 ERA as a starter in September. But he did really well in August, when teams didn't have much of a book on what he does in the majors (I read on a beat writer article that he changed up something to help him when he made the majors). But he has been mostly doing well at home, while not doing as well on the road.

      Still, going against Jordan Lyles, who has a 7.23 ERA, and 7.62 ERA in his last five starts against the Giants, plus Stratton's success at home seems to make this a win, most likely, though with two young starters, not a sure win for the Giants.

      Cainer's last start ever will be an emotional affair for all. 5.27 ERA as a starter, but 3.08 ERA at home overall. We can flip a coin as to whether he has a bad start or an OK start.

      He will be facing Jhoulys Chacin, 3.98 ERA, but 2.83 ERA in his last 5 starts against the Giants, so it looks much more likely that the Giants will lose this start. Had Bumgarner been pitching in this game, it would have been a good battle, gone either way. Instead, it is more likely to be a loss.

      Last start, Cueto faces Perdomo, who has made a career of handling the Giants, 2.73 ERA in his last 5 starts against the Giants. Cueto has 2.65 ERA in his last 5 starts against the Padres. Could go either way.

      I wonder if the Giants will pull Cueto and start Blach if they are in the mix for the #1 pick in this last game. However, if they need a win to avoid 100 losses, I can see them leaving Cueto in there. However, the Giants will need to lose the three games before in order to be in danger of losing 100. So if they go 1-2 as one might expect (maybe even 2-1), based on the above, then the Giants might contemplate going with Blach, giving Cueto a rest as well (he's probably not 100% in some way), "saving" both Bumgarner and Cueto's arms for 2018 while also saving our chances for a Top 2 pick.

    4. Tigers are facing Royals and Twins, one mediocre .500-ish team (but amazingly just eliminated from WC spot) but the Twins are likely to win the second WC game. If the Twins can clinch today, all they need is a win or Angels loss, they could decide to rejigger their rotation to get their best starter in the WC game, and second best starter in first of ALCS (if win the WC), plus rest the better starters 3-4, and end up throwing out 5th starter and AAAA types against the Tigers. That could tip the balance towards the Giants in terms of getting the first pick overall.

      But first or second, we would be getting a really good prospect either way.

      Phillies plays Nats then Mets. Nats should win that one, Rourke has been pitching well against Phillies.

      But the Mets have been as much of a mess as the Phillies this season. They have the 6th pick overall right now, and could sneak into 5th if the Reds win and they lose. Both teams are motivated to lose in order to improve their draft position. I wonder how overtly either team will be at tanking.

      And the Reds and White Sox are still in the mix for catching up with the Giants. Would take a Giants win streak and their loss streak, but it's still possible.

      Still a lot of ifs to beat out the Giants of a Top 3 pick, and almost as many to push them out of the Top 2 picks. I feel like that we are ensured at least a Top 3 pick, and very good about a Top 2 pick.

      If they can pick well, it could start up another great player to make a run for the title 2020-2022, while Posey and Bumgarner are winding down their careers.

  4. Giants hold their #1 position by losing as they only can in 2017, by our closer giving up 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to lose 4-3. The Shark pitched well in AZ, more like last season than for his career or this year, and unlike what I thought he would do.

    Good for him, nice way to end the season for him. Three games to go.

  5. Wow, it was just too much for me to openly hope for, especially since he has been so up and down the past few seasons, but Cainer had almost the most perfect start for the end of his career start.

    Line: 5 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 4 K's, no homers, 0 R/ER.

    Other common details: Left with the lead, lost the win almost immediately, the Giants took back the lead, then lost the game in the 9th as the bullpen failed again, and the offense just was not good enough to win.

    The only way that could have been more perfect is if he had thrown 6 IP.

    1. With this loss, the Giants clinched at least a Top 2 pick for the 2018 draft, as the Phillies have been winning recently (12-8 in their last 20 games, though they lost today, so 12-9 in last 21; Giants were 9-12, Tigers 5-16).

      And with the Tigers winning today, it moved the Giants back out of a tie with the Tigers for the #1 pick, and into the #1 position by themselves. Which is important because the Tigers hold the tie breaker (worse record in 2017; by one win!).

      So either a Giants loss or a Tigers win on Sunday would seal the deal for the Giants to hold the #1 pick for the first time ever in the history of the draft.

      I'm rooting for Bochy to let Cueto sit and letting Blach or Suarez start. :)

  6. Final Standing: Tigers lose and Giants win on a walk off by Sandoval, leading to the Tigers getting the #1 pick, and the Giants #2. In spite of Cueto pitching, he had a poor start (pretty much sealing his fate, he's staying with the Giants), but the bullpen held strong in this game, and the offense just did enough.

    With the #2 pick, this is the best draft position ever for the Giants, whose prior best was #3 when they selected Will Clark. Not that we will necessarily get someone as good as Will the Thrill. :)

    As much as I wanted #1 pick, it will still all come down to how well your scouts figure out who are the best talent. And the Giants have been pretty good at identifying skills, hitting since Barr joined, pitching since Tidrow been running things, so I feel pretty good that the Giants have a great chance to find a good prospect. Of course, there are no guarantees for any prospect, their talents could be canceled by their body breaking down or by their mind/habits somehow blocking their potential.

    So I feel very good about this position, as there is no pre-season consensus #1, like Bryce Harper, so the top player will depend greatly on how each team values prospects, and the Giants have always been thinking differently when it comes to prospects. Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Arroyo, Panik, Belt, Crawford are examples of prospects selected before what others thought of their talents and/or potential. BA ranks had them lower in their ranks, for example Cain selected 25th, ranked in the 40's, Lincecum while ranked high, most teams had him as a reliever only because of his size, Bumgarner's cross-over throwing motion is a huge worry point for many teams, etc.

    Every draft always have a number of good prospects and while it is hard to deliver (less than half of Top 5 picks turn out to be a good to great player), it is the highest percentage of discovery (over 40% do end up being a good player or better). With the good finds of this season's draft, plus hopefully whomever we pick in 2018 (and remember, we also get earlier picks for every round as well), and the nice prospects we already have in the upper minors, like Arroyo, Shaw, Beede, Reynolds, Slater, Duggar, Garcia, Fabian, Quinn, Andrew Suarez, Gregoria, Hinojosa, wow, we have a really deep farm system, not high in obvious quality, but a lot of interesting prospects who could develop for us.

    I expect the scouting intelligence that brought us all these prospects when we had the odds strongly against us in the draft, which happens when you are winning a lot, to make a great pick with that #2 pick. Jumping up an extra 10-20 selections will give us a lot more higher quality prospects to chose from, and hopefully hit on more of our selections.



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