In the golden anniversary year of their Bay Area co-existence, the Giants and A’s have produced a baseball season made of lead.
Lead as in dead. Both teams have been mostly dreadful almost from Day 1. The season is essentially over on both sides of the bay here in mid-July, and the bitter upshot is that fans of each team still have 70-some games to suffer.
Is this any way to celebrate the 50th year of our status as a two-team baseball market? This could be the worst baseball season ever in the Bay Area.
The A’s and Giants are on pace for a combined total of 192 losses — 101 by the Giants, 91 by the A’s. That would rank second only to 1979 when the teams combined for 199 losses. The A’s lost 108 that season. To underscore that team’s wretchedness, it even had a player named Mickey Klutts.
This season has been a more shared stumble of futility, compounded by the mortifying indignities of Madison Bumgarner taking a tumble off a dirt bike and Stephen Vogt getting his walking papers. Both teams are in last place.
When was the last time the Giants and A’s both finished in the cellar over a full season? At least in the Bay Area, would you believe never? It’s true. Yes, in 1995, both teams did wind up at the bottom of their respective divisions with identical records of 67-77. But it was a shortened season due to a labor dispute.
As the teams stagger out of the All Star break, the Giants are 27 games behind the Dodgers, and the A’s are 21 games behind Houston. Wild-card prospects? Nope. The only race might be against each other. The A’s are 5½ games better than the Giants, but the teams square off for four games starting July 31. Oh, boy.
Giants pitchers have given up the most hits in baseball. Their batters have hit the fewest home runs. The A’s have made the most errors of any team in baseball. Their batters have struck out 852 times, producing nothing but breeze in more than 25 percent of their plate appearances. At least everyone stays cool in the mostly empty Coliseum.
In virtually every statistical category, traditional or newfangled, the A’s and Giants rank in the bottom third of baseball. In many of them they’re in the bottom five, and in some instances, dead last. Actually, the Giants do lead the majors in one offensive stat: sacrifice flies. That should make you laugh, albeit through clenched teeth. Maybe there’s a promotion to be had there: Wizards of the Warning Track!
Yikes, it can’t get any worse, can it? Wait. Sure it can. The A’s could trade Jed Lowrie and Yonder Alonso, two of their best hitters, along with one-time ace Sonny Gray. In their place will be even more kids who don’t yet require shaving cream.
The Giants would like to get out from under the monstrous contract of their best healthy starter, Johnny Cueto. And aside from Buster Posey, Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford, there are no untouchable Giants at this point, not even Brandon Belt. Belt’s 2016 contract extension really kicks in starting next year, to the tune of $17.2 million in each of the next four years.