The 2012 Giants were a good team. Any team that wins 94 games can be considered a good team without much debate — maybe not a perfect team, but nonetheless much better than average.
Any team that wins the World Series gets lucky. In a short series fluky hot and cold stretches happen, calls go your way, balls do funny things. All of the little things that even out over the course of 162 games come into play. Just because a team needs luck to win a World Series doesn’t make the occurrence any less special. The inverse is also correct; winning a World Series doesn’t magically make their flaws disappear either.
It seems that when the Giants went about building their team for the 2013 season they forgot all of these things. They got caught up in the euphoria of the success and decided that if the team was good enough to win in 2012 it would be good enough to do the same last year.
The only problem with this way of thinking is that it overlooked all the fortunate things that had to happen for everything to come together just right.
Here is a quick rundown of the open questions that needed to happen for the 2012 team to be a success.
- Buster Posey needed to come back from a horrific injury and play as good or better than he did before the injury.
- Ryan Vogelsong needed to continue his improbable return from washed up prospect who was mediocre in Japan to All-Star caliber pitcher.
- The Giants needed to have their best pitchers all make 30+ starts as to not expose their lack of high quality starting pitching depth.
- Melky Cabrera needed to show that he 2011 wasn’t a fluke and those 2,600 plate appearances of below average hitting were the sample that was really wrong.
- Angel Pagan needed to bounce back from his disappointing 2011 to be the true leadoff hitter the team needed.
- Brandon Crawford needed to resemble a bad hitter in the Major Leagues and not hit like a second pitcher in the lineup.
All of these things happened and the Giants went on to have a successful season. The only issue is that the probability of all of these things breaking in the Giants’ direction was highly unlikely. When the Giants built for 2013, they brought the band back together without any major additions. Brian Sabean and Co. essentially doubled down on all the same things breaking the same way for the second year in a row. Unfortunately that did not happen.
Going into 2014 the Giants have a nice core of players to build a successful team around. Not unlike the Red Sox that just won the World Series after a disappointing season, this team has a bunch of talent and is much better than the record would have indicated.
Last year the Giants had the opposite luck with many their bets going against them, which has had the effect (or at least I hope) of forcing the Giants front office to take a hard look at the roster and look for ways to add depth and to improve certain positions, most glaringly left field and starting pitching.
With the Dodgers willing to spend whatever it takes to get into the playoffs, if the Giants want to keep up in 2014 the team can’t bet on every question breaking their way and need to look at getting more outside help.