The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs are each on a course which will most likely see them oppose one another in the playoffs this coming October. If we are to believe MLB’s power polls, then the Cubs will be winning their first World Series in more than one hundred years.
That is a pretty big “if.”
For the most part power polls reflect the current standings and little more. Yes, the Cubs (45-20) have the better record than the Giants (42-26), but how about if we go back a month or so, and see how each team has done during that span?
In the last 33 games, the Cubs are 20-13 while the Giants have posted a 25-8 record. You can take those power polls and plaster them all over the Cubs’ locker room for all the difference they make in the individual locker rooms.
There are seven reasons why I do not see the Cubs beating the Giants in a head-to-head confrontation in October, despite the overwhelming feeling in baseball that, well, you know, it’s the Cubs’ turn. Giants fans would respond, “It’s an even year.”
Take your pick.
Let’s begin with defense because-on the big stage-defense is what separates the very good from the excellent. The Cubs are nineteenth, overall, in Major League Baseball; that is very good. In 65 games the Cubs have had 2,484 total chances and 1,761 put-outs. They have accrued 683 assists and committed 40 errors, for a fielding percentage of .984
The Giants are second in all of MLB; that is excellent. In three more games (68) than the Cubs, they have had 2,599 total chances with 1,848 put-outs. San Francisco has racked up 722 assists and been charged with 29 errors, for a fielding percentage of .989.
The Giants have proven under the brightest lights, that they can produce the big play. I have seen Joe Panik try that back-handed flip of the ball to second base, while falling away with his back to the play, twice since Game Seven of the 2014 World Series. Once it worked to perfection-once the ball went askew. It’s all about timing.
The second reason the Giants have the advantage is speed. The Giants have out-stolen the Cubs, 41 bases to 28, despite being caught only twice more than Chicago, 18 to 16. Additionally, though both clubs have identical team batting averages (.285), the Giants have 22 triples to the Cubs’ nine.
Speed is deadly because it throws off the timing of the defense. Aside from the in-the-park home run, the triple is the most exciting offensive play in baseball. It electrifies the offense and causes conniption fits on the part of the defense.
Yes, the Cubs have clubbed 78 home runs to the Giants’ 56, but we have already seen San Francisco win a world series with the fewest number of home runs in all of MLB. The year was 2012 when the Giants finished dead last and it wasn’t even close. The Los Angeles Dodgers were second-to-last with 116.
San Francisco went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. How many homers did Detroit hammer out in 2012? 163, which is sixty more than the Giants. A lot of good it did them in the World Series.
Thirdly, the Giants have a pitching staff that has more savvy when it comes to preventing stolen bases. San Francisco has allowed 24 stolen bases to Chicago’s 51. That would be the influence of one Buster Posey, Esq. I might imagine.
Together, Posey (14) and Trevor Brown (4) have caught eighteen base-stealers. The Cubs’ Miguel Montego (9) and David Ross (2) have nabbed eleven. I am more interested in the number of stolen bases allowed (51) by the Cubs, compared to the 24 allowed by the Giants. That’s huge.
Fourth, whereas the Giants and Cubs may be on a par as far as front office leadership is concerned, with Theo Epstein and Brian Sabean working behind GM’s Jed Hoyer and Bobby Evans, San Francisco has the best manager in baseball.
I have heard of the wonderful rapport Joe Madden has with his players, and how comfy all the rookies are. How nice for them. How many rings has the man earned? Zero.
How many rings has Bruce Bochy won? With essentially the same crew as he has this year? Three.
Fifth, the Giants have experience as a team. They have earned at least 31 world series rings amongst them, with Javier Lopez leading the parade with four. I don’t know how many rings the Cubs have earned, but it does not approach 31.
Sixth, the Giants have that chemistry thing going for them. It doesn’t matter what is happening inside the Cubs’ locker room, or how loosey-goosey Joe Madden has his rookies, the Giants have taken the concept and brought it to a new level. After all, San francisco still has Hunter Pence, even if he is on the disabled list, the best motivator in the game.
Finally, the Giants, as I pointed out above, are the underdogs to the Cubs. It just so happens that San Francisco embraces this concept. They work it to their advantage, as they have done EVERY step of their way to their three recent titles. Madison Bumgarner has helped make this happen, as has Buster Posey.
I am not going to put it all on these two foundation pieces, but if the cap fits, flaunt it, Baby. Not to dis on Jake Arieta and his ongoing streak of quality starts, but Jake’s playoff repertoire is nothing like his regular-season record.
So I’m fine with MLB and the latest power polls. In fact it works to the Giants’ advantage. Just don’t try to convince me that they mean anything.