The San Francisco Giants have proven over the last half decade that they have a consistent, winning formula. So why aren’t more teams copying it?
Currently, the San Francisco Giants are enjoying more success than they ever have in franchise history, or at the very least since they moved to the Bay Area from New York. The franchise has won three World Series titles in the past five seasons, and because of that, the business side of the operation has seen exponential growth in recent seasons.
But despite the run of success over the past five seasons, some pundits never think much of the Giants coming into the season and very few predicted them to win any of those world titles that they collected. But why? When you attempt to answer that question, therein may lie the answer to a much larger question. Why isn’t San Francisco’s recipe for success copied by other teams?
- How the Giants Play
The Giants’ blueprint for success over the past several seasons has been quite simple; the bedrock of the roster is strong pitching. Bruce Bochy and his staff has put an emphasis on strong “basics,” such as defense and manufacturing runs. The team doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on power, it’s simply an added bonus that can get them through periods of time when the team is having trouble manufacturing offense.
This year’s edition of the Giants is built the same way many of the other recent ones have been assembled. Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum have been the foundation of the starting rotation this season, while young starter Chris Heston has done a solid job of standing in until Matt Cain comes back from injury. Bullpen staples Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez have done well in their late-inning roles while Nori Aoki has flourished in the leadoff role and Brandon Crawford has already delivered 31 RBI, nine doubles and 14 walks in 44 games.
Despite losing sluggers Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse in the offseason, holding a 25-20 record through Sunday’s action and sitting just two games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the lead in the National League West, the Giants don’t have one single player with 10 home runs this season (Buster Posey, their main source of power, leads the team with seven through Saturday).
- Why Isn’t the Blueprint Copied?
To borrow an example from another sport, when the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup twice in a three season span, many general managers around the National Hockey League rushed to reevaluate their teams, and if the team didn’t fit the Kings’ mold of playing a defensive, physical type of hockey, changes were made. This Spring, when the Winnipeg Jets made the postseason, many credited it to their style of play that fit the mold of the Kings.
And yet, many teams in baseball still shun the Giants’ blueprint for other plans. Division rival Arizona, who is in the middle of a retooling process, has an offense that features All-Star Paul Goldschmidt (hitting .327 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI through Saturday) and and Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas (hitting .333 with one home run and 14 RBI through Saturday), but the Diamondbacks’ 4.27 team ERA is the third worst in the NL.
Despite his number being a little low at this point in the seaon, the Colorado Rockies have offensive firepower in the likes of Troy Tulowitzki (hitting .275 with two home runs and 16 RBI through Saturday), but three of their starting pitchers have an ERA north of 5.00, and the team’s 29 errors through Sunday’s action are the fifth most in the National League.
- One Theory Why
But all of these numbers still don’t explain why teams are insistent on building a team that is a stark contrast from the Giants. And while there’s certainly more than one way to construct a roster, some of it might simply come down to the entertainment value.
There’s much lamenting around baseball these days about the low scores, while a few teams in recent years have moved the fences in at their home parks in an effort to increase the scoring. It’s very possible that some team owners (who don’t always have winning and losing paramount in their minds) and general managers have simply shunned the “Giants plan” because it’s seen as a “boring” brand of baseball that won’t sell tickets. Almost a philosophy of “it’s better to live and die with offense, than win a bunch of 1-0 games.”
That may be true in some regards, but the Giants have certainly proved over the last half decade that winning 1-0 games can lead to winning the World Series, and there is nothing more entertaining than that.