Division-leading Giants still third in NL West odds
The battle for NL West supremacy was supposed to be a two-horse race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres in 2021. Apparently, the San Francisco Giants (+2800) didn’t get the memo.
Despite dropping the first two games of a three-game weekend set with the Friars, the Giants are in first place in their division by a half-game on the first weekend of May at 16-11. Both the Dodgers and Padres are 16-12.
It’s a tenuous half-game advantage, but when one considers that 53% of division winners since 1996 have been in first place on May 1, it makes one start to regard San Francisco with more respect.
So can the Giants pull off this colossal upset? Let’s dig into their credentials.
National League West 2021
Sun, October 3 2021, 5:00 PM
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Oddsmakers have taken notice
On April 15, San Francisco was +5000 to win the NL West, with L.A. at -500 and San Diego at +300. Bookmakers have done some serious adjusting since, knocking the Giants down to +2800 while moving the prices on the Dodgers and Padres to -455 and +250, respectively.
With the Padres coming down too despite a modest start, the movement seems to be significantly impacted by the Dodgers’ not running away with the NL West lead early.
Giants’ pitching staff packs a punch
The Giants are tops in the majors in run prevention this year, allowing just 3.3 per game. Three of their four frontline starters – Anthony DeSclafani, Kevin Gausman and Aaron Sanchez – have an ERA of 2.22 or lower through five efforts.
Johnny Cueto was off to an exceptional three-game start (1.80 ERA) before hitting the IL, but Alex Wood (1.50 ERA through three starts) has filled in admirably.
Closer Jake McGee has seven saves on the season, just two off the MLB-lead enjoyed by the Padres’ Mark Melancon.
Vintage Buster Posey leading the offense
Giants catcher Buster Posey is off to an incredible start, as he leads the team in hits (23), homers (six), and OPS (1.110). It’s very encouraging considering he missed the All-Star Game in 2019 for the first time in six years and opted out of the 2020 campaign.
Also off to a surprisingly-strong start is third baseman Evan Longoria, who’s hitting .284 with four homers and 12 RBI. Only Brandon Belt has drawn more walks (14, to Longoria’s 13) among the San Francisco roster.
The offense will only improve once Donovan Solano and Mike Yastrzemski return from the IL.
Though their odds are still very long, bettors should at least get a run for their money with the Giants. If the G-Men keep playing like this, all they need is a lucky break or two.