Every (other, mostly) week during the 2017 season, we checked in with California’s five MLB teams. Who was up? (the Dodgers, mostly) Who was down? (the A’s, mostly) Who had the cheapest ticket on any given week (the Giants) and who will play in the best series (the Dodgers)? The Golden State is home to the best position player in baseball, the sport’s best pitcher, and the (coming?) 2018 San Diego Padres.
Written by Kyle Magin
Best record this year: Los Angeles Dodgers, 104-58.
Worst record this year: San Francisco Giants, 64-98.
Best attendance (cumulative): Los Angeles Dodgers, 3,765,856.
Worst attendance (cumulative): Oakland Athletics, 1,475,721.
Huell Howser Memorial ‘Is This Guy Serious!?’ Outstanding Performance Video:
You can't teach this kind of accuracy.
Unreal. 💯 pic.twitter.com/cfupgJvcnl
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 13, 2017
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is exactly the kind of guy who could be scapegoated during a losing streak. The grande Cubano has a history of losing focus and irritating teammates and coaches alike. It’s a testament, then, to the abilities of LA Manager Dave Roberts that he kept inserting Puig into the lineup during the Dodger’s 11 game skid in early September. Puig’s presence paid off in a big way in San Francisco on Sept. 12, when he turned in this gem of a throw plus a two double, two RBI game in a 5-3 win over the Giants. The W keyed a run of four straight and righted the ship for the quickly-plunging boys in blue. Roberts’ trust and steady hand saved the season right here.
Gob Bluth’s Huge Mistake of the Year: Nothing determined the fate of a single California club in 2017 like the April dirtbiking injury suffered by Madison Bumgarner. It was stupid and juvenile—exactly the kind of mistake you expect a 27-year old yoked-up millionaire to make. Thing is, Bumgarner is supposed to be better than that. He lives baseball enough to hit respectably for a pitcher and pitch respectably for a perennial All-Star. That he didn’t take the impact of his off-the-diamond antics into account before riding is still mind-boggling. There’s just certain things you don’t get to do when a franchise rides on your shoulder.
Cheapest ticket this year: While the secondary market for A’s tickets was consistently softer than a sock this season—you could find a $6 ticket to almost every series after early April—the biggest surprise was the proliferation of $6 tickets in San Francisco after midseason. We started tracking the phenomena on June 26, and every subsequent week featured a bargain-basement seat in San Francisco. If the Giants don’t make a splash this offseason, and start off slow next season, we could see the return of Lincoln + Washington seats by May, if not earlier, by the Bay.
California Series to Watch: The Dodgers are, of course, the only game left in the state. They’ll play the winner of the Rockies-Diamondbacks in Chavez starting Friday. I expect them to dispatch either squad, but have a much tougher time if the Snakes make it through the wildcard game. I’d have no interest in playing keep-up with J.D. Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt when Robbie Ray is on the bump.
Dodgers: 10/6-7 TBD @ Dodgers.
Home series in bold.