It’s September. Time for the MLB regular season to get under way.
After months of magnificent, boring and annoying games, the “regular” season begins with the Giants one of six or seven teams currently vying for five playoff spots.
The Giants fail in June and July was epic. In August, they returned to mediocrity, posting a 16-12 record. To be fair, they played far better than the previous two months. To be fair, that was no great achievement.
Offense led the way, as it had in April and May. The Giants led the MLB in hitting, posting a .288 team average. The return of the Giants offense coincided with the return of Angel Pagan. And it is not coincidental.
Nor was it coincidental that the Giant resurgence was led by Buster Posey, hitting .336 in August, with 36 hits, 6 home runs and a .372 on base percentage. Those are the kind of numbers he put up in 2012 when he carried the Giants to the championship.
A welcome surprise was Joe Panik, rookie second baseman who had a sensational August at the plate. Whether Panik can fill in what has been a gaping hole over the past two seasons remains to be seen. But he represents hope, which has been in short supply around the right side of the infield.
Finally a tale of two pitching staffs. The starters, with the exception of Tim Lincecum, were excellent. For the most part, the bullpen was shaky. They blew a couple games in spectacular fashion and were anything but dependable.
A good run in September will depend heavily on the bullpen. The starters are not that great and hitting, as we’ve seen, is inconsistent. Besides, the bullpen is the heart of the Giants’ game. Without it, they’re lost.
The other teams in the chase for the playoffs (the “real” season) are similarly flawed, injured and overpaid.
Which means you can expect inconsistent baseball and a thrilling race to the finish. In 2010, despite winning over 2/3 of their September games, the Giants didn’t make it to the playoffs until the last day.
The Giants did it in 2010 and 2012, when they won better than 2/3 of their September games. They probably won’t need to do quite as well to make it into the “real season” this year.