Thursday, April 26, 2007

Plying the Percentages

Giants ballclub logo

In the spirit of Opening Day the Giants stumbled along for the next week and a half with that same awkward brand of ball that caused them to cough up the season's first game and earn the public derision of all who follow them, as discussed below. 2 and 7 after the first nine games. 2 and 7!

2 and 7, a ratio of wins per game played (.222) to which even the poorest team in the long annals of the game couldn't descend consistently over the course of an entire season. Even with all the storied ineptitude they brought out onto the field, the most laughable of the early New York Mets squads was never that bad, they were never .222 bad over an entire season.

Knowing that, even if this year's Giants club were to match the established record of Met ineptitude, stretches of better play should be expected to break out here and there after a 2-7 start just to bring the average up to the previously established sub-standard of a season's worth of poor play registered by the Mets.

Particularly I care to attend to Visquel's play whatever the outcome. He's the best Giants shortstop I've had a chance to watch, going back to their Seals Stadium days. I remember the dire times with André Rodgers in the lineup, who Prescott Sullivan in the San Francisco Examiner suggested might benefit from an apron sort of thing to keep the ball from going so consistently between his legs. Visquel is a great shortstop. He has the tremendous talent out there on the field for all the running and catching and throwing required by his position. Often he proves by demonstration that yes, the human form can in fact execute some adroitly made move or other that no one had bothered to think posssible before. So, there is Visquel to keep an eye on.

Although, now, after nineteen games, the Giants are 11-8. There are many, many ways to combine wins and losses that will lead to a record of 11-8 (.579) in any strech of nineteen games of the schedule, and snappy ways to figure out all the possible combinations of wins and losses that will get your team there, and among those combinations the small set with its few ways to distribute 9 wins among the next ten games, when the team's started off 2-7, to get to the desired result.

No ballclub wins nine of ten games consistently, but the Giants did just that, won nine of ten and the last seven in a row. Already this season the Giants have ranged from unpardonable to unbeatable, from the subperformances following Opening Day to the brisk dispatch of the despised Dodgers over the course of the past two nights, extending the ballclub's win streak to seven games and featuring, last night, yet another home run from the presumptively drug-depleted Barry Bonds.

Over the course of 162 games, .579 would be roughly 94 wins, and 94 wins is a good competitive count in this year's hunt for a place in Major League Baseball's playoffs. Any team in the NL West that can keep up an 11-8 pace over the course of the season is almost assured of winning the division.

Still, the bullpen's pitchers are going to cough up a lot of games late. Can't be helped with the staff they've got, I suppose, though just hearing the name of any of them pronounced after the seventh inning, even this early on in the season, forces an expression of real alarm from my throat. The rotation looks strong, though, there is that.

[UPDATE: Last night the Giants completed a sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, coming back after being down 3-0 early to win their eight game in a row, 5-4, boosting the club's record to 12-8 and tying the Giants for a share of the division lead. Very satisfying, very satisfying indeed.]


Anonymous said...

Not to appear overly snarky, but there are only 142 games to go and a great deal of variables can affect teams for months to come. Of course, a tiny part of me will still bleed Dodger blue regardless of the nearly 30 years i lived in NorCal, after 30 in LALA land.

The Constructivist said...

I heartily approve the NoCal-SoCal dialectic (especially when its internal)!

peter ramus said...

That didn't seem snarky at all, spyder. Although I'm glad to see some evidence that the Giants aren't as bad as the worst of the Mets, 20 games sure isn't enough to prove they're good enough to win 12 of 20 games from here on (@97 total). For that, they'll actually have to play the games.

(And if, in doing so, they beat the Dodgers every time, ah, bliss!)