It’s no secret that this season, the San Francisco Giants have been lousy. They sport the third-worst record in baseball, behind the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox. They’re 36 games out of the NL West, and 19 games out of the second Wild Card spot.
Once August starts, I like to start checking the number of games each team has left to play and the number of games it will take for a team to be eliminated. It might be schadenfreude but I enjoy it and it keeps me busy for five minutes.
Anyway, as I was saying, the Giants are historically bad, not only according to Grant Brisbee but also according to their record and their elimination number.
If you just bear with me for a second, these are the elimination numbers for the Giants, White Sox, and Phillies - in addition to each division’s leader.
Division standings - as of 08/09/2017
As you can see, the Giants are only 13 games away from elimination. Worst case scenario, they’re eliminated within a week (without counting off-days.) Then again, they might still go into a hot streak and draw out their final days.
Yet, they are still in line to be the first team eliminated - mostly because the Los Angeles Dodgers are so good. Given that the White Sox and Phillies have a worse record and can hold on for much longer speaks more about the Dodgers than the Washington Nationals or Cleveland Indians - but it does say a lot about how tough both teams have had it.
But this is not the interesting point. Let’s look at the bottom teams and second wild card for each league:
Wild Card Standings - as of 08/09/2017
Nothing out of the ordinary. Philadelphia and Chicago (AL) are racing for the 2018 Draft number one pick. San Francisco might get the third pick. But look at the elimination number. The White Sox will be eliminated through a combination of 35 games won or lost by them or Seattle. It will take Philadelphia 29 games between them and Arizona to call it a season. And San Francisco might call it a season after 28 games.
How can this be if they have a better record than Philadelphia? Well it’s simple. For starters, elimination numbers are calculated by taking 162 games, adding one more game and subtracting the number of games won by the team in the lead (Arizona) and the number of games lost by the chasing team (San Francisco).
Since the Giants have more losses than the Phillies, this means it will take fewer games to be eliminated - though this might change given off-days and hot/cold streaks.
The other reason why the Giants might be eliminated before the Phillies is because the former have played more games than the latter. San Francisco has played 116 games so far, whilst Philadelphia has played 111. This means that over the remaining month and a half left to play, the Giants will rest at least five games, games that Philadelphia will play to reach the 162-game mark.
When these games are taken into account, the Phillies could win a game or two, improving their record over the Giants.
Normally, you would expect teams start getting eliminated from worst-to-first. But this might be a unique instance in which the third-worst team manages to get eliminated before the bottom two teams this season.
*Stats and standings as 09/08/2017
Martin Alonso writes for Beyond the Box Score and BP Bronx and is constantly geeking out over baseball and Star Wars. You can find him on Twitter at @martnar.