One. Hundred. Wins. 100 WINS!!!
I hopped around Twitter last night, saving various versions of a “100 Wins” graphic. I saw at least 4-5 different ones. One of them had Kris Bryant as the center photo, and I mean–we all love KB so far, but–c’mon, the one I put up top is the one it had to be. Buster and the Brandons.
Not long after the Giants finished off their 100th win in Colorado, the Eugene Emeralds won the High-A West Championship, and about 15 minutes behind them were the San Jose Giants, winning the Low-A West Championship.
To say that September 24, 2021 was an epic day for the Giants organization is an understatement.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The Giants won Game 100 as they won so many of the previous 99–with the long ball. Here’s a fun clip of all four homers they hit last night (all by lefty hitters, as it happened).
Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 25, 2021
It’s worth taking a minute to look at the four guys who hit homers last night.
- The Captain (Brandon Belt)–#27: Belt has by far surpassed his previous career high of 18 homers (2015 & 2017), but there’s more to it than that. He’s hit 27 homers in just 372 plate appearances. Since returning from the injured list in early August, in 171 PAs, he’s hit .279/.380/.646/1.071 with 16 long balls. If he hits just one more this season, he’ll have the highest season total in the Post-Bonds Era (PBE). More on the PBE in a minute.
- Captain Carl’s Grandson (Mike Yastrzemski)–#25: This was the biggest homer of the game, as there were two runners on, and it gave the Giants a comfortable-ish lead (for Coors Field, that is). It’s been a down year for Yaz. He’s been batting eighth, which is hard to believe, considering that he was a top-10 MVP vote-getter last season. Even so, he’s second on the team in homers and RBIs, has an OPS of .770 despite a still-low batting average of .223, and a 2.4 bWAR. In the PBE, the only Giants to have 25+ homers are Pablo Sandoval (2009, 25), Aubrey Huff (2010, 26), and Hunter Pence (2013, 27). Add Belt and Yaz to that list. It’s a short list.
- The 2021 MVP (Brandon Crawford)–#22: Last night’s homer also represented a career high for Crawford, who hit 21 in 2015. He’s also hitting .303 (!!!) for the season, which is seventh in the NL, and he leads the team in RBIs. He’s having a ridiculously great season and will be a top-10 MVP vote-getter, if not top 5. He should win the Gold Glove (but not the Silver Slugger, thanks to young Mr. Tatis Jr.).
- The New Guy (Tommy La Stella)–#7: OK, La Stella’s not really a home run hitter. But he’s hit three leadoff homers in the last 11 days. A couple of weeks ago, when the Giants were in Chicago, I said in the comments “I want La Stella to make me love him.” He went 3 for 3 with a homer and 5 RBIs in that game, and I’m taking FULL CREDIT. Since then, he’s gone .310/.408./667/1.085 with four homers. Yaz and La Stella are coming on late, but better late than never, and they’ll both be around next year.
With last night’s four homers, the 2021 Giants now have 234 for the season, which is just one behind the all-time franchise record of 235, set by the 2001 Giants.
These are the 2 best power hitting teams in Giants history. pic.twitter.com/GNiFSvuLvO
— Cody Pasby (@CodyPasby) September 25, 2021
Castro & Doval: Where the Present Meets the Future
It’s fitting that the winning pitcher in the 2021 Giants’ 100th victory was a 22-year-old rookie getting his first major league win. Kervin Castro has been in the pipeline since he was signed as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2015. Due to injuries and COVID, he actually hasn’t amassed that many professional innings until this year, and before 2021, he hadn’t even pitched for a full season team (short season Salem-Keizer A ball in 2019 was his highest level). Baggs and Brisbee talked about him in their latest podcast, and they noted that unlike some Venezuelan players, who were stuck in a Courtyard by Marriott in Scottsdale when the pandemic hit, Castro had family in Orlando, Florida, and he was able to travel there. There was a critical mass of Venezuelan minor leaguers in the Orlando area during that period, and they played in pickup games to stay in shape. When Castro arrived at the Arizona instructional league last fall, observers noted that it seemed like he hadn’t missed any development. He was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason to keep him out of the Rule 5 Draft, began the season with AAA Sacramento, and now here he is, pitching multi-inning stints to spare a gassed bullpen. In 6 games (9.1 innings), he’s given up 9 hits, 0 runs, struck out 8, and ZERO walks. If the Giants are compiling a Division Series roster, is he on it? Ask me in a week. Is he a big part of their plans for 2022 and beyond? Oh, yes.
Camilo Doval is a tiny bit more polished than Castro. He was also signed as an international free agent in 2015, but he’s two years older than Castro is (a venerable 24 years old). Like Castro and Gregory Santos (obtained from the Red Sox in the 2017 trade for Eduardo Nunez), Doval was added to the 40-man roster last winter despite never having pitched above high-A ball (though he did pitch at the 2020 Alternate Site). Doval had a rough introduction to the major leagues in May when the Giants were scrambling for answers to what used to be a really bad bullpen. But since his most recent return from AAA on Sept. 5, he’s appeared in 10 games (9.1 IP), given up 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 10. Most notably, he pitched out of game-on-the-line bases-loaded situations against the Dodgers and the Padres. He’s rapidly moved up the depth chart for a bullpen that is suddenly leaking oil, and who would you rather have right now–Doval or Zack Littell? Will he be on a postseason roster? Seems like a no-brainer unless he has a major meltdown(s) over the next week. But he doesn’t really seem like a “major meltdown” kind of guy, does he? Health permitting, Doval may be the Giants’ closer as soon as 2022. Maybe 2021(!).
Assistant pitching coach J.P. Martinez had to check and make sure Camilo Doval has a pulse 😂 pic.twitter.com/k4nBL5V5AF
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 23, 2021
A-Ball Champions: We Own the West!
It was already ridiculously awesome that the Giants won their 100th game last night. The high-A and low-A championships of the Eugene Emeralds and San Jose Giants just added to the sense that Sept. 24, 2021 may be looked back upon as the turning point day for the Giants of the ’20s. The Little Giants’ triumph–a three-game sweep over the Fresno Grizzlies–was arguably even more impressive in that their best players were promoted to Eugene midseason. Indeed, the Emeralds’ championship clincher was won by starter Ryan Murphy, and the big hit was a homer by Marco Luciano, both of whom began the year with San Jose (and presumably will get TWO rings, right?). Other notable Emeralds were Ismael Munguia (HaakAway’s ExclusiveGuy™), who won the batting title in the High-A West league and went 12 for 19 (!!!) with two homers in the four-game playoff series, and Brett Auerbach, who also started the season with San Jose, homered last night, and finished the year with a .907 OPS across two levels. Auerbach was an undrafted free agent in 2020 out of Alabama. This year he played every position except SS and 1B. Remember that name. Oh, and Ryan Murphy? Between two levels, he had 164 strikeouts in 107.1 innings (!!!) and he had a WHIP of under 1.
As for San Jose, the last time they won a league title was 2010. Their starting pitcher was another 2020 draftee, Nick Swiney, throwing to his North Carolina State batterymate Patrick Bailey (2020 first-round pick). We know about Swiney, Bailey, and Luis Matos (who drove in two runs last night and hit a homer), but here’s a name you may not know as well: San Jose closer Cole Waites. Waites, an 18th round draft pick in 2019 out of West Alabama, had 31 strikeouts in 13.1 innings across two levels (rookie and low A) against just four (4) walks, ERA of 0.68, WHIP of 0.53. Remember THAT name, too. In the Baggs/Brisbee podcast (which was recorded yesterday morning), Baggs was musing “What if the Giants surprised everyone by bringing up someone from the minors for the postseason?” I was listening and thinking, “Say Cole Waites. Say Cole Waites.” Baggs: “For example, Cole Waites.”
Now, I don’t really think the Giants are going to bring up Cole Waites from low A to pitch in the playoffs. It’s a stretch to even think that Doval or Castro could be on a postseason roster. But Waites seems like a talent who could move fast, and he’s older than Castro already (23).
See what I mean? The future is so bright you need sunglasses to even contemplate it.
Here’s Waites, getting the last out for the championship.
Tonight’s final out. A fitting end for this pitching staff to clinch a championship with a strikeout. https://t.co/9oD3njrWsE
— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) September 25, 2021
Today I’m taking a break from worrying about if the Giants win the NL West. I hope they do. I think they can, but if they don’t, there’s no shame in winning 100+ games when you were picked to finish fourth and making one of the best collections of talent ever assembled on a baseball team sweat it out until the very end. I’m a happy and proud Giants fan today, and I’m looking forward to a bright and entertaining future. Well done, all! Lefty out.
Oh. Today’s game begins at 5:10 p.m. and features Anthony DeSclafani vs. Jon Gray. We need this one. We need ALL of them.