As all baseball fans know, the San Francisco Giants won the 2014 World Series, clinching their third title in the past five seasons and earning the “dynasty” title. However, the Giants do not fit the typical dynasty team. Dynasty teams evoke dominance with the same if not extremely similar players. The Miami Heat were a dynasty because of their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. The early 2000s Patriots teams were built around Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, and Deon Branch just to name a few. The Yankees’ dynasty was built around the Core Four as well as guys like Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill. The consistent idea with all of these teams is that for the most part during their runs of dominance they had the same starting lineup. The Giants do not fit that mold.
In 2010, their first title, the Giants two best players according to WAR were Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff. Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell, and Edgar Renteria were everyday players. A young pitcher named Tim Lincecum was at the height of his dominance and Brian Wilson was downright un-hittable. Both Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez made 33 regular season starts.
Come 2012 and the Giants looked like a completely different team. Among the nine highest offensive WAR players from 2010 only Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval remained. Torres and Huff were replaced by Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. Hunter Pence was a midseason trade acquisition. This time around the pitching staff was led by Matt Cain having a career season. Lincecum struggled all year, pitching to an ERA over five. Ryan Vogelsong replaced Sanchez in the rotation although Zito still remained. Wilson only threw two innings all season due to injury, so Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla took over as the team’s closers and were extremely productive in the role.
In 2014, the offensive leaders looked extremely similar although there were a few key additions like Joe Panik and Michael Morse, both of whom came up clutch in the postseason. Madison Bumgarner led the rotation all season with Lincecum struggling again and Cain getting injured. Bumgarner took his fame to a whole new level and had a historic playoff run. Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson also helped to stabilize starting rotation as veteran presences. Once again Romo and Casilla shared closer duties with 23 and 19 saves a piece.
So how have they been able to maintain this dynasty with such turnover and turmoil with their roster? There are two major reasons for their success: GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy is one of the better managers in the league and his postseason success speaks for itself. However, the front office led by Sabean needs to be credited for a lot of the team’s success in the past five seasons. After losing most of his starting lineup in 2010, Sabean was able to completely revamp the lineup by signing Cabrera and trading for Pagan in the offseason. He then went on to add Marco Scutaro and Pence via midseason trades. For the 2014 season the rotation needed the most help. With Lincecum struggling and a hole in their rotation, Sabean went out and signed Tim Hudson prior to the 2014 season. When Cain went down with injury and in need of yet another key arm, Sabean made another midseason trade to aquire Jake Peavy from the Red sox. Both Hudson and Peavy were extremely important in the postseason and helped to lead the team to the victory.
Sabean is one of the best GMs in all of baseball, consistently putting a winning product on the field even when he loses key members of his team. Although the team may have not resigned Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse and many fans are worried about the team in 2015, there is no need to worry as Sabean and Bochy have been at the helm of a dynasty and as long as those two are around the team will put a highly competitive team on the field.
Nice rundown! I vastly and mostly agree.
Still, there are a few things I would add. First, Cabrera was acquired via a trade (of SP Sanchez, with the Royals). Second, I would note the addition of Belt and Crawford in 2011 led to their being significant contributors to the 2012 Championship team. Lastly, I would note that the Core Four, as the Giants have been calling Romo, Casilla, Affeldt, and Lopez lately, was completed by the additions of Casilla and Lopez in 2010, and been a common thread through all three championships, as well as Posey, Sandoval, and Bumgarner.
Further, that’s seven significant contributors in common over the three championships and five seasons, out of 16 (8 starting positions, 4 starting pitchers, 1 closer, and 3 setup men), which is a pretty high percentage for any team over five seasons, let alone three championship teams. Some might argue against including the setup men, but the four of them had strings of 20-something appearances with ZERO runs given up during the three championship teams, so I think it’s pretty clear that the Core Four were significant contributors to this historic run.
Plus, basketball is a different sport, driven by having top players together on one team, leading to the dynasty. That’s why teams like the 1975 Warriors Championship was considered so rare, as they had just the one superstar in Rick Barry.
Lastly, I would note that between the 1996 and 2000 championship teams, the Yankees had 8 players who played similar roles in each championship: Tino, Jeter, Bernie, Paul O’Neil, Pettitte, Cone, Rivera, Nelson (and Rivera wasn’t the closer on that first team). That is not much different from the Giants situation, the Yankees might have had more position players in the lineup similar, but each team had similar number of significant contributors.