The 2017 San Jose Giants season featured several standout individual performances from top prospects and many memorable games at Municipal Stadium. While San Jose failed to qualify for the playoffs, it was a Giants team that showed improvement during the second half and battled for a postseason spot all the way until the final weekend of the year.
A powerful starting lineup was expected to carry San Jose early in the season and the Giants burst out of the gates winning seven out of their first 11 games to climb to the top of the North Division standings. San Jose shook off a difficult 16-inning loss on opening night at Inland Empire to post a winning record on their initial road trip. An 8-2 victory over Stockton in the home opener at Muni highlighted a series victory against the Ports. San Jose then took two out of three games in Stockton the following weekend and had the look of a club that was poised to contend throughout the first half.
Unfortunately, three straight losses in Rancho Cucamonga during the final week of April dropped the Giants below .500 and San Jose would never own a winning record for the remainder of the season. Dillon Dobson's historic three-homer night versus the Ports on April 28 delighted a Friday night crowd, but it would mark one of only two victories for San Jose during a six-game homestand. In fact, the Giants would go over a month in-between series wins as a stretch of 10 losses in 12 games through early-to-mid May knocked San Jose down the standings and out of first half contention.
Despite significant team struggles, several players began to emerge as leaders of the club. Catcher Aramis Garcia returned from an early-season concussion to anchor the cleanup spot in the lineup and post some of the top power numbers in the league. Shortstop Ryan Howard provided a consistent bat out of the #2 hole and maintained a high average throughout the season. Top prospect outfielder Bryan Reynolds broke out with a five-hit game in a May 21 victory at Modesto and never looked back in recording some of the top offensive numbers in the California League. The Giants ranked near the bottom of the league in most pitching categories throughout the first half, but Mike Connolly and Conner Menez excelled in the starting rotation while Ryan Halstead was arguably the most dominant closer in the league during April and May. The six players - Garcia, Howard, Reynolds, Connolly, Menez and Halstead - were all eventually honored as midseason California League All-Stars.
Bright spots for San Jose late in the first half included their first series win in Lancaster since the 2011 season when the Giants took two of three from the eventual first half South Division champs. San Jose earned their first walk-off win of the year when they edged Modesto 1-0 in 10 innings over Memorial Day weekend on May 28. The Giants won another series against Lancaster at home during the first week of June before sweeping a three-game set at North Division leading Modesto the last week of the first half. A final first half record of 30-40 put San Jose in last place in the division, but improved play in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break gave hope for a more competitive club in the second half.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Giants traveled to Visalia and promptly lost three straight games before avoiding the sweep with an extra-inning victory in the finale. San Jose returned home and took three of four from Stockton in an impressive series win and then split four games at first half champion Modesto. At 6-6 early in the second half, the Giants looked to an important homestand beginning on the Fourth of July as an opportunity to move up the standings. However, a loss to Rancho Cucamonga on Independence Day followed by a blowout Quakes victory the next night set the tone for a challenging three weeks against one of the top teams in the league. From July 4-23, San Jose played 11 out of 18 games against the talented Dodgers affiliate and Rancho Cucamonga dominated the Giants taking all three series played between the teams during the stretch. By the time the Quakes rolled out of town in late-July, a reeling San Jose club had lost 12 of 18, found themselves in third place in the North Division and six games out of first. A surge during the final quarter of the season was needed if the Giants were going to compete for a playoff spot.
In desperate need of victories, San Jose concluded a homestand by winning two out of three games against Modesto. The series rubber match saw the Giants rally to tie the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before winning the game in the bottom of the 13th - their longest home contest of the season. A four-game split in Lancaster followed to maintain the positive momentum before San Jose returned to Municipal Stadium and enjoyed their best homestand of the year. With the calendar having flipped to August, the Giants swept three games from fellow playoff challenger Visalia, earning back-to-back shutouts in the final two contests of the series. San Jose then took three out of four against Inland Empire scoring 28 runs in the three victories. At the conclusion of the 6-1 homestand, the Giants had won 10 out of their last 13 and climbed to within one game of first place in the second half. With only four weeks remaining in the regular season, San Jose found themselves in the thick of the playoff race.
The All-Star duo of Reynolds and Howard continued to thrive from the top part of the lineup as the Giants went through their best stretch of the season offensively. With Garcia promoted to Double-A Richmond, third baseman Jonah Arenado moved into the fourth spot in the order and saw his season take off with several clutch performances. Dobson and Gio Brusa also provided power from the middle of the order and Ronnie Jebavy anchored the club defensively with his outstanding play in center field. On the mound, the Giants endured late-season injuries to workhorses Connolly and Jake McCasland, but Garrett Williams earned a promotion from Class-A Augusta at the beginning of August and dominated California League hitters throughout the final month. Top prospect Shaun Anderson was acquired in a trade from the Boston Red Sox just prior to the July 31 deadline and excelled in the San Jose rotation down the stretch. Meanwhile, Dylan Rheault stepped in as the closer after Halstead was promoted in June and turned in an excellent second half as the top late-inning arm out of the bullpen.
With all four teams in the North Division hovering around the .500 mark, a late push from the Giants was needed to carry the team to the second half title. Following their August 11 win in Modesto, San Jose had moved into sole possession of first place in the division with an even 24-24 record. It marked the first time in the second half that the Giants held the top spot in the division. It would, however, be the only day in which San Jose was in sole possession of the division lead in the half. The Giants dropped the next two to the Nuts to lose the series before splitting a four-game set at home against Lancaster to remain just one game out of first. Up next was a pivotal week of six consecutive games against division rival Visalia as a couple of series wins versus the Rawhide could have vaulted San Jose back into the top spot. Visalia though continued to be the Giants' nemesis taking two of three games at Municipal Stadium from August 18-20 before returning home early the following week and again winning two out of three. With a loss in the series finale to the Rawhide, it marked the fourth consecutive season that San Jose did not win a series at Visalia's Recreation Park.
The Giants needed a late spark with the season winding down and it was briefly provided with a remarkable ninth-inning comeback on August 26 against Stockton. San Jose scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to overcome a 7-2 deficit before winning the game 8-7 with a run in the tenth inning. The thrilling victory moved the Giants into a three-way tie for first place, but San Jose was unable to build momentum off the win. The next afternoon in the final home game of the season, the Ports tagged rehabbing SF Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto for eight runs in an 8-6 win to drop San Jose a game out of first in the division. The Giants then opened their final week of the season with a demoralizing late-inning loss at Inland Empire as the 66ers rallied from a four-run deficit to stun San Jose. The Giants ultimately dropped two out of three games in the series, which required San Jose to have to sweep their season-ending four-game set in Stockton to keep their playoff hopes alive. And those dreams of a miraculous final series would quickly be dashed as the Ports crushed the Giants 12-1 in the opening game to officially eliminate San Jose from playoff contention.
The Giants fell short in their goal of reaching the playoffs and competing for a league championship in 2017, but did provide fans with an exciting late-season push. Thrilling late-inning comebacks, a bevy of top young prospects and several memorable moments highlighted the season of San Jose Giants baseball this year. Now, here's a look at some of the top games from the 2017 season:
Top 10 2017 San Jose Giants Games
(listed in chronological order)
April 13 vs. Stockton (8-2 win)
A raucous crowd at Municipal Stadium for the home opener watched the Giants knock off Stockton by an 8-2 score. San Jose blew the game open late with a five-run bottom of the eighth. Dillon Dobson had three hits while Ryan Howard, Jonah Arenado and Jose Vizcaino Jr. each drove home a pair of runs.
April 28 vs. Stockton (11-4 win)
Dillon Dobson stole the show on this night at Muni as the Giants slugger tied a single-game team record with three home runs. Dobson smacked a solo shot in the bottom of the first, hit another solo home run in the sixth and then put the game out of reach with a three-run homer in the seventh. Dobson became the third player in the 30-year history of the club to hit three home runs in a game and the first to accomplish the feat at Municipal Stadium.
May 21 at Modesto (12-8 win)
The Giants opened a road trip on a Sunday afternoon in Modesto with an impressive offensive display. Bryan Reynolds tied a team record with five hits to lead the way. The top prospect collected three singles, a double and a triple to go with four RBI's in one of the finest individual performances of the season. Fellow 2016 draftees Gio Brusa and Heath Quinn also homered as San Jose overcame an early 6-1 deficit to knock off the Nuts.
May 24 at Lancaster (11-7 win)
San Jose pounded out a season-high 20 hits on their way to a victory in Lancaster. Eight of the nine players in the Giants lineup produced multi-hit games at the plate led by Ryan Howard (4-for-5). Bryan Reynolds, Dillon Dobson and Gio Brusa each homered as the triumph helped San Jose to their first series win at The Hangar in Lancaster since 2011.
May 28 vs. Modesto (1-0 win in 10 innings)
The Giants were held without a hit through the first nine innings by Modesto pitching during this Memorial Day weekend home tilt, but still managed a victory. Conner Menez, Will LaMarche and Dylan Rheault combined to hold the Nuts scoreless for 10 innings before San Jose rallied in the bottom of the 10th. Bryan Reynolds broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff single before Gio Brusa stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and singled home the game-winning run. It was the Giants' first walk-off victory of the season.
July 10 vs. Modesto (4-2 loss)
San Jose may have lost this game to the Nuts, but the atmosphere inside Municipal Stadium was electric due to the rehab appearance of San Francisco Giants legend Madison Bumgarner. In front of a sellout crowd, Bumgarner twirled a gem in his final rehab outing with six dominant innings on the mound. The former SJ Giant allowed just two hits and one unearned run to go along with eight strikeouts.
July 26 vs. Modesto (4-3 win in 13 innings)
In a key late-July matchup against division rival Modesto and down to their last strike in the bottom of the ninth inning, Bryan Reynolds tied the game with a dramatic two-out RBI single. The contest then went into the 13th inning when Jalen Miller delivered a two-out RBI single sending San Jose to a thrilling walk-off victory. The triumph gave the Giants a critical series win and propelled the club into the second half playoff race.
August 19 vs. Visalia (8-7 win in 10 innings)
The Giants trailed 7-2 after six innings before Ronnie Jebavy brought the team back. Jebavy blasted a home run in the bottom of the seventh to begin the late comeback effort before his two-out RBI single in the eighth capped a four-run inning to tie the game. Jebavy then did it again in the bottom of the 10th as his line drive single into right center scored the winning run to give San Jose an 8-7 victory over the Rawhide at Municipal Stadium.
August 22 at Visalia (5-1 win in 11 innings)
The comeback kids staged another late rally against Visalia - this time on the road at Recreation Park. Trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the ninth, team MVP Bryan Reynolds stepped to the plate and launched a dramatic game-tying solo home run off of the Rawhide's dominant closer Yoan Lopez. The Giants bullpen then kept Visalia off the board late before San Jose erupted for four two-out runs in the top of the 11th to ultimately win 5-1. Gio Brusa's RBI single put the Giants ahead for good.
August 26 vs. Stockton (8-7 win in 10 innings)
In a second half filled with remarkable comeback wins, there was no more impressive victory than the second-to-last home game of the season. In a critical game against Stockton, the Giants scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to overcome a 7-2 deficit and force extra innings. Jonah Arenado delivered one of the biggest hits of the season with a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth before Dillon Dobson won the contest in the bottom of the 10th with an RBI single. San Jose's final home win of the season was a comeback for the ages.
* Shaun Anderson, RHP (6 G, 5 GS, 3-3, 3.51 ERA) - Was acquired via trade from the Red Sox in the Eduardo Nunez deal in late-July and impressed in the San Jose starting rotation down the stretch. Struck out 22 batters in 25 2/3 innings while limiting the opposition to a .198 batting average.
* Jonah Arenado, 3B (.268 AVG, 13 HR, 73 RBI) - Returned for a second full year in San Jose and led the team in doubles (36) and RBI's (73). His 13 home runs ranked fourth on the club. Hit .349 in his last 37 games.
* Gio Brusa, OF (.237 AVG, 17 HR, 55 RBI) - Slugging switch-hitter tied for the team lead with 17 home runs. Finished the year with a flourish blasting five homers over his final seven games.
* Mike Connolly, RHP (18 G, 15 GS, 4-8, 4.85 ERA) - Was one of the top starting pitchers in the league during the first half (3.86 ERA in 11 starts) and was named to the midseason All-Star team. Suffered a season-ending elbow injury in July.
* Carlos Diaz, LHP (34 G, 2.47 ERA, 1 SV) - San Jose's top lefty in the bullpen throughout the year struck out 67 batters in 58 1/3 innings while owning a .214 opponents batting average.
* Dillon Dobson, 1B (.234 AVG, 15 HR, 68 RBI) - Was second on the Giants in RBI's and tied for third in home runs. Had a memorable three-homer game on April 28.
* Aramis Garcia, C (.272 AVG, 17 HR, 65 RBI) - One of two Giants (Howard) named to both the midseason and postseason California League All-Star teams. Tied for the team lead in home runs, despite spending the final month of the year in Double-A. Ranked among the top five in the league in RBI's at the time of his promotion.
* Ryan Halstead, RHP (22 G, 1.11 ERA, 8 SV) - Was the top closer in the league during April and May before receiving a promotion to Double-A. Allowed only three earned runs in 24 1/3 innings and was a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities.
* Ryan Howard, SS (.306 AVG, 9 HR, 50 RBI) - Enjoyed an All-Star season out of the #2 spot in the Giants lineup. Ranked sixth in the league in batting average and third in hits (161). Had 49 multi-hit games and batted over .300 in each of the first four months (April .323, May .315, June .348, July .316).
* Ronnie Jebavy, OF (.251 AVG, 4 HR, 20 RBI) - The center fielder saw only a slight improvement in his batting average from 2016 (.247), but was a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen base attempts to lead the team and also earned the club's Defensive Player of the Year award for the second straight season.
* Matt Krook, LHP (25 G, 17 GS, 4-9, 5.12 ERA) - Led the Giants staff with 105 strikeouts (in 91 1/3 innings) while boasting a .217 opponents batting average. San Mateo native moved to the bullpen in late-July and had a sparkling 1.02 ERA as a reliever (17 2/3 innings).
* Will LaMarche, RHP (30 G, 3.46 ERA, 2 SV) - Bay Area native signed with the SF Giants in May and thrived in a late-inning role out of the San Jose bullpen. Struck out 49 batters and walked only eight over 41 2/3 innings.
* Conner Menez, LHP (23 G, 22 GS, 7-7, 4.41 ERA) - San Jose's Pitcher of the Year led the team in wins, starts and innings pitched (114 1/3). Allowed two earned runs or fewer in 12 out of his 22 starts and was a midseason California League All-Star.
* Bryan Reynolds, OF (.312 AVG, 10 HR, 63 RBI) - A midseason All-Star and San Jose's team MVP. The top prospect outfielder finished the year fifth in the league in batting average and sixth in hits (153). Had 45 extra-base hits (26 doubles, 9 triples, 10 home runs) and also excelled defensively at all three outfield positions. Hit .328 in the second half.
* Dylan Rheault, RHP (55 G, 2.70 ERA, 21 SV) - Converted 21 out of his 24 save opportunities this season. Led the league in saves and appearances (55). Emerged as the club's closer late in the first half with 20 of his saves coming after June 1. Named to the postseason California League All-Star team.
* Grant Watson, LHP (14 G, 11 GS, 4-3, 3.96 ERA) - Was a consistent performer in the Giants starting rotation throughout the second half. Had a 3.19 ERA after the All-Star break. Allowed one or no runs in six out of his 14 appearances.
* Garrett Williams, LHP (6 G, 5 GS, 2-2, 2.45 ERA) - Top prospect starting pitcher joined San Jose in early-August from Class-A Augusta. Struck out 10 batters in his Cal League debut. Had a 2.45 ERA for the Giants with 38 strikeouts in 33 innings.
The Giants finished the season with a 62-78 overall record. It was San Jose's worst record since going 58-82 in 2003. It's also the first time since the '03 season that the Giants end the year with the worst overall record in the California League. 2017 marked the sixth time in the 30-year history of the club that San Jose ended the season below .500.
Inside The Record
San Jose went 30-40 in the first half before a 32-38 record in the second half. The Giants did post a 20-19 record after falling a season-high 17 games below .500 on July 24 (42-59). San Jose notched winning records against two out of seven California League opponents (Stockton 14-13, Lancaster 9-8). The Giants went 38-45 (.458) against the North Division compared to 24-33 (.421) versus the South. San Jose finished 29-41 at Municipal Stadium - the worst home record in the league. The Giants did fashion a 13-6 record in their last 19 home games of the season. San Jose went 33-37 on the road (20-15 first half, 13-22 second half).
This year marked only the second time in the last 14 seasons that San Jose did not participate in the playoffs. The Giants reached the playoffs in a league-record 10 consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2013, winning four championships during that span (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010). The playoff streak ended in 2014, before San Jose qualified for the postseason in 2015 (lost in Championship Series) and 2016 (lost in Mini Series). The Giants finished nine games out first place in the first half this year and three games out of the top spot in the second half. San Jose was in sole possession of first place for only two days this season: April 18 (7-4 first half record) and August 11 (24-24 second half record).
At The Plate
The Giants finished the season ranked sixth in the eight-team California League in batting average (.256) and sixth in runs scored (4.5 per game). San Jose's 124 home runs ranked third in the league. It was the fifth-most home runs in San Jose Giants history. San Jose's 266 doubles this season ranked sixth in club history. The Giants set a team record for strikeouts this year (1,275 - previous record was 1,176 in 2012). San Jose also established team records for fewest walks in a single season (335) and lowest on-base percentage (.310).
On The Mound
San Jose's 4.52 team ERA this season ranked sixth in the California League and was the fourth-worst mark in the 30-year history of the club (5.03 in 2000, 4.68 in 2003, 4.60 in 2016). The Giants were seventh in the league in strikeouts (1,134) and also issued the most walks in the league (533). San Jose's 100 home runs allowed ranked as the third-fewest in the California League. Giants starting pitchers had a 5.13 ERA this season compared to a 3.71 ERA for the bullpen. San Jose's nine blown saves were the fewest in the league.
San Jose led the league in victories when trailing after six innings (11). The Giants' five victories when trailing after eight innings also tied for the league lead. All five wins came in the second half. Conversely, San Jose had the fewest losses in the league when leading after seven innings (51-3). The Giants were the only team in the league to not lose a game this year when leading after eight innings (55-0).
62 players suited up for the San Jose Giants during the 2017 season (33 position players and 29 pitchers). Among the 62 total players, ten were San Francisco Giants on major league rehab assignments: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill, Mark Melancon, Eduardo Nunez, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence, Denard Span and Mac Williamson.
San Jose's longest win streak of the season was four games (June 11-14, July 30-August 2). The Giants' longest losing streak was a seven-game slide from June 15-24 (last four games of first half + first three games of second half).
The Giants lost 21 one-run games this season - tied for second-most in the California League. San Jose was 15-21 (.417) in one-run games.
San Jose went 6-2 in extra-inning games. The .750 winning percentage in extra-inning contests led the league. The Giants' longest game of the season was their first game of the year (4-3 loss in 16 innings on April 6 at Inland Empire). San Jose was a perfect 4-0 in home extra-inning games.
San Jose's best month of the season was August (14-14) while their worst months were May (12-17) and July (12-17). The Giants also posted records of 11-13 in April, 12-14 in June and 1-3 in September. San Jose has not had a winning month since May 2016 (21-9).
Getaway Day = Win Day
The Giants were a stellar 15-6 in the final game of a road series this year, including a stretch of 14 consecutive road series finale victories from late-April through late-July.
San Jose finished with a final home attendance total of 163,373 (2,368 fans per game average). The Giants had seven sellouts among their 69 home dates. San Jose's largest crowd of the season was on Saturday, April 29 (4,503).
A Look To 2018
The 31st season of San Jose Giants baseball begins on Thursday, April 5. San Jose's home opener at Municipal Stadium is scheduled for Thursday, April 12. A full 2018 schedule with ticket information will be released on sjgiants.com soon.
The Lancaster JetHawks will host the 2018 California League All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 19.
Be sure to visit sjgiants.com and the Inside the San Jose Giants Blog throughout the offseason for all the latest team news, podcasts and 2018 roster projections.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.