If history repeats itself, then 2016 should end with the San Francisco Giants claiming another World Series Title. The Giants have won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014 with all signs pointing towards more October baseball in San Francisco. The Giants currently find themselves with a record 38-26 which is good enough for first place in the National League West as they have a five-game lead over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers for the top spot in the division. But whereas the Giants came out nowhere in 2010 to win it all, or when they got hot in the postseason in both 2012 and 2014 to win the World Series, this year’s team already has the look of a team that could do some damage.
Since taking over as the general manager of the Giants in 1996, Brian Sabean has done things his way. Sabean made trades that weren’t popular when he sent veteran Giants players such as third baseman Matt Williams out of town. But Sabean’s moves paid off as the Giants had a 22-game improvement in 1997 to win the National League West for the first time since 1989. From 1997-2004, the Giants never had a losing record, and over that stretch they won the NL Pennant in 2002, along with winning 100 games in 2003. However from 2005-2008, the Giants never had a winning season, and Sabean took some flack for the team’s rebuilding plan.
During that time the Giants were developing a core of young pitchers that included starting pitchers Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum as the pair would be vital in San Francisco’s World Series Titles in 2010 and 2012. But while Lincecum’s and Cain’s stars began to fade, it opened the door for other players on the Giants to emerge as stars: those players being catcher Buster Posey and starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner who have kept the Giants winning ways going. Along with Posey and Bumgarner, the Giants also have core players in shortstop Brandon Crawford, first baseman Brandon Belt, and second baseman Joe Panik that have come together to make San Francisco one of the better teams in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately for the Giants these guys alone weren’t enough to get San Francisco to the postseason in 2015.
Sabean who is now the Giants president of baseball operations went to work during the winter to add spare parts that would once again get the San Francisco to the postseason. After helping the Kansas City Royals win the World Series last year, starting pitcher Johnny Cueto hit free agency where he and the Giants agreed on a six-year contract that is worth $130 million. The Giants would also sign starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija to a five-year deal that is worth $90 million, and he along with Cueto have not only provided depth in the Giants rotation behind Bumgarner as both pitchers have combined to win 16 games, but they also have the kind of veteran experience that can come in handy if San Francisco can make it to the playoffs. The Giants also signed veteran outfielder Denard Span who has provided them with a quality bat at the top of their lineup as he has an on-base percentage of .344, while also possessing tremendous range in center field which is crucial in a cavernous park such as AT&T Park in San Francisco.
As a pitching staff, the Giants team earned run average of 3.51 is currently fifth in the National League, and for manager Bruce Bochy, he has typically relied on a bullpen by committee during his time with the club which is once again the case in 2016. Relief pitchers Hunter Strickland, Santiago Casilla, Josh Osich, and Javier Lopez are all interchangeable players that each has the ability to save games, be middle relief, or setup men. Casilla has been the Giants primary closer as he has 13 saves this year, but you can never have enough arms in the chase for a pennant.
Offensively the Giants are primarily a middle of the pack team as far as most of the major statistical categories go in the National League, but that is all thrown out of the window when the Giants reach the postseason as they have a lineup of mentally tough players who always seem to find a way to get the big hit being that they hate to lose more than enjoy winning.
The Giants are more than capable of winning the National League West as they are clearly the best team in the division. The Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Diego Padres all currently have losing records, while the Dodgers are a team that is limbo as they have one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball, but they are also attempting to develop some of their younger players. The Giants are the only team in the division that has their act together which should see them end up the postseason.
Sabean has his pulse on the Giants and it definitely isn’t a far fetched idea to see him make a move between now and trade deadline on July 31 to add more pitching depth, or another bat that could make the Giants that much more formidable. The Giants also have the luxury of knowing that they’ll get one of their leaders back in outfielder Hunter Pence back at some point as he is currently on the disabled list with an Achilles injury which only makes San Francisco that much more difficult to deal with when he does return. And whatever the case may be for the Giants each team that could potentially face them in the playoffs will have it in the back of their heads of how tough it is to eliminate this team.