The 2021 MLB playoffs starts today, and guess what? The San Francisco Giants are involved!
But just because your favorite team is in the playoffs doesn’t mean we have to shy away from a big October tradition: the playoff rooting guide.
This time, I’m taking a different approach and asking four questions to help you decide who to talk to.
Spoiler: it’s the Giants. Root for the giants.
Beat LA now or beat LA later?
One of two very exciting things will happen: either the Dodgers will lose, which is always worth celebrating, or the Dodgers will win, which means the Giants will have the opportunity to take the honors.
Either way, Beat LA is the vibe.
If we were to write a dream script for the season – which, to be fair, it certainly looks like after 162 games – that would include the Dodgers win, so the Giants can beat them.
But it’s a chance I’m not happy to take, so go ahead and do the honors, Cards.
Where are all the old Giants?
The Giants haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, which means we’ve all had plenty of time to think about who we’d like to win without San Francisco being an option. A great way to determine who to shoot for is to find where the ancient giants are.
Using this very specific methodology, we can determine that you should be putting down roots for the Giants this playoffs. They have 26 Giants on their roster which is significantly more than the other nine teams. combined. If you are a fan of the Giants, I am here to tell you that science says you should root for the Giants.
We don’t know what the playoff rosters will look like, but five of the other nine teams had at least one former Giant on their active roster at the end of the season. Four of those five had only one Giant, and the fifth? Well, the fifth had four ex-Giants.
This team is, of course, the Atlanta Braves, who amass ancient Giants as I am accumulating vices.
Neither Stephen Vogt nor Pablo Sandoval are any longer on the roster (although Vogt is on the 40-man, 10-day injured list), but Will Smith, Drew Smyly, Ehire Adrianza and Adam Duvall are all. It’s a whole bunch of giants!
Four teams do not have former Giants, although the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros have players who were recently at camp with the Giants (Billy Hamilton and Jose Siri, respectively), while the Dodgers have Phil Bickford, a former top pick for the Giants organization.
Only the Cardinals seem utterly devoid of representation of the giants, although that’s probably just because I’m missing something.
What is the path of least resistance?
The Giants will spend the NLDS playing the winner of the Cardinals-Dodgers series. The Dodgers have won 106 games, with a points differential of +269; the Cards won 90 with a differential of +34. It is an easy choice for the path of least resistance through the divisional series.
The NLCS becomes a bit more difficult to analyze. The Giants will play either the Braves or the Brewers; Milwaukee won more games (95 to 88), but Atlanta had the best differential (+134 to +115). The Giants have gone 3-3 against the Braves this year and 3-4 against the Brewers.
Milwaukee is feeling a little better than Atlanta and should benefit more from the ability to shorten his spin, even though he lost one of his best pitchers to a wall.
As for the American League, I will say something that would have seemed incredible before the start of the season: The Yankees seem to be the weak point. Their 92 wins are tied with the Red Sox to say the least among AL playoff teams, and their running differential of +42 is easily the lowest.
So if you’re looking for the easiest path, look for a Cardinals, Braves, and Yankees lineup. Then smile and put up with it when the Giants inevitably come face to face with the Dodgers, Brewers and Rays.
Who are we morally obliged to take root for?
It’s always a fun exercise, even though I’m not used to the Giants. There is a clear moral obligation for your rooting interests, and while I will surely be wrong, I would do my job wrong not to try. So here’s who to root for, starting with who not to root for, and focusing only on how much you would like these teams to win everything, rather than considering the Giants might have to play them.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
I’m not going to dwell on this one. Beat LA.
9. Houston Astros
The Astros have two very interesting things going for them: They recently beat the Dodgers in the World events, and Dusty Baker is their manager.
Other than that, it’s a team of cheaters who don’t deserve nice things.
8. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are a nice team full of nice players and many former Giants. And every time you watch one of their home games, you are subjected to a wildly racist chant that echoes through the stadium.
If they were the Atlanta Ducks, they would be at the top of this list.
7. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are a year away from trading one of baseball’s top 10 players to save money, and then they fell back into the playoffs. They should not be rewarded for this nonsense.
6. Cardinals of Saint-Louis
I still haven’t heard a single good explanation as to why Giants fans should hate the Cardinals, but Giants fans should definitely hate the Cardinals, and doing so feels absolutely right to me.
5. New York Yankees
I’m not an anti-Yankee person, who hates the organization for spending the money it should be spending on trying to build a good team. They should be applauded for this.
But they’re still not particularly interesting, and this organization has won far too many titles to get one more in a lean year. Plus, they don’t allow facial hair, and I could never be the cause.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are a pretty meh team. They are not offensive, despite Josh Hader’s past. They aren’t interesting either, although their pitchers are fun to watch (when playing against teams that aren’t the Giants).
Their jerseys are forgettable, their players are unforgettable, and they kind of exist, playing baseball well, albeit uninspiring.
3. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are a super cool team with a super uncool manager. Do what you want with it.
2. Rays of Tampa Bay
Just as I’m not here to bash the Yankees for spending the money they should, I’m not here to applaud the Rays for not spending the money they should. But even though the organization is extremely cheap, and although not worthy of applause, it is remarkable that they can get away with a division that includes the huge Yankees market, the huge market Red Sox and a Toronto Blue Jays team that could end up with two of the top three for AL MVP.
The lack of spending isn’t admirable, but the way Tampa Bay has developed players, found inequalities and made progress in baseball is. They have long been considered the gold standard of modern, analytical baseball. If you’re a fan of baseball that evolves into a better sport, you should be a fan of what the Rays are doing, even if you think they should spend an extra $ 100 million doing it.
Also, a former member of the McCovey Chronicles community works in their front office, so I am legally obligated to encourage them.
1. The Giants of San Francisco