Are Giants Really Good ... Or Really Lucky?

FACT: The San Francisco Giants are in first place, and nine games better than .500 (38-29).

FACT: The San Francisco Giants have been outscored this season.

FACT: Those first two FACTs very rarely are able to coexist for long.

I can already hear the screams of anguish from the good folks who love their Giants ...

But the Giants just know how to win! And ... great pitching wins close games! Especially great relief pitching! Weren't you paying attention last year? Fear the Beard, you jerk!

Yeah, I was paying atttention. Maybe not quite close enough attention. And as I'll never be allowed to forget, I had the Giants losing to the Braves in the Division Series, to the Phillies in the Championship Series, and to the Rangers in the World Series.

So that's on me.

Here's the thing, though. For all the Giants' "knowing how to win" and their sterling pitching staff, they did outscore their regular-season opponents last season by 114 runs. In fact, their run differential was typical of a 94-win team (they actually won 92 games). The year before that, with the same manager and many of the same players (or pitchers, anyway), they won 88 games with the run differential of an 86-win team.

So we've got two full seasons, over the course of which the Giants won exactly as many games as you would expect, considering their runs scored and allowed. What tells us more about the fundamental nature of the San Francisco Giants: 324 games in 2009 and '10 -- not to mention all of baseball's history -- or 67 games in 2011?

I'll go with the former, because that's the sort of person that I am. You can go with the latter, if that's the sort of person that you are. Either way, the world will keep spinning. I'm just not convinced that the San Francisco Giants will keep winning unless they actually start outscoring their opponents with some regularity.

Statistical Postscript: Nine other teams this season have scored as many runs as they've allowed, give or take 10 runs. Those nine teams have averaged 33 wins and 34 losses. If you check last year and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that ad infinitum, you will find the same thing.

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