It really was not the Giants' year in any way, shape or form.
The final day of the 2017 regular season was mostly bereft of drama or suspense, given that every playoff spot had been determined before Sunday's games began. But there was one rather important piece still up for grabs yesterday: the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. It's a race that the Giants had led nearly wire to wire on the season, and while they began September neck-and-neck with the rebuilding Phillies and White Sox, they were as good a bet as any to finish with the game's worst record and that top draft pick, thus salvaging what had been a truly and bafflingly awful year.
But September brought a new contender into the race: the Tigers, who abjectly went into the tank after dealing away Justin Verlander and Justin Upton at the waiver trade deadline. From the beginning of the month up until Sunday, Detroit went an incredible 6–23, rocketing past the Phillies, Reds and White Sox in the chase for the No. 1 pick. That stretch of horrid baseball was enough to catch Detroit up with San Francisco (which had gone 10–15 in that same stretch), leaving the Tigers just a game behind the Giants for the worst record on the last day. A San Francisco loss, though, would lock up last place.
Well, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. Tied 4–4 in the ninth against the Padres, the Giants saw their No. 1 pick dreams dashed by—of all people—Pablo Sandoval, who had hit a meager .224/.263/.359 since rejoining the team in the summer but crushed a walk-off solo home run off of San Diego reliever Phil Maton to leave San Francisco's final record at 64–98. Detroit, meanwhile, fell to the Twins to end up at 64–98 as well. And unfortunately for the Giants, MLB's tiebreaker for the No. 1 pick is which team had the worse record the season prior—and the Tigers finished a half-game (86–75) behind San Francisco (87–75) in 2016 thanks to a rained-out game in Detroit's schedule that was never replayed because it had no impact on that year's standings.
So to recap: San Francisco endured one of the worst seasons in franchise history—only the 1985 Giants lost more games—and won't even get to take home the No. 1 pick as a consolation because scrap-heap pickup Pablo Sandoval did something good at the worst possible time; because the Tigers unrepentantly punted the month of September; and because of a rainout last year that didn't matter until it did. It'd be funny if it weren't so potentially damaging. (Okay, it's still funny.)
Not all is lost for San Francisco, though. The last time the Giants had the No. 2 pick in the draft, back in '85, they ended up with an All-American first baseman and Olympian out of Mississippi State by the name of Will Clark. Maybe luck will be on their side in the same way next June.