Are the San Francisco Giants a Team of Destiny?

San Francisco Giants: 2010 World Series Champions

San Francisco Giants: 2012 World Series Champions

San Francisco Giants: 2014 World Series Champions

This is the pattern that the San Francisco Giants have followed. Since 2010, the Giants have won the World Series every other year. Could they add 2016 to their collection?

Looking back at each year that the Giants won the World Series, compared to the previous year, there was always one major acquisition at some point. In 2010, the Giants got a major boost from young catcher Buster Posey. The team recalled him from Triple A-Fresno on May 29, 2010. At that moment, the Giants sat in 3rd place in the NL West, at 26-22. Following that promotion, the Giants went 66-48, finishing the season as champions of the NL West at 92-70. This was their first division championship since 2003, and it was heavily spearheaded by the young Posey, who would go on to be named National League Rookie of the Year. In his rookie year, Posey hit .305/.357/.505 with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs. In the postseason, Posey lit it up in the NLDS, hitting .375 en route to the Giants win over Atlanta. He went cold in the NLCS against Philadelphia, hitting .217 with three RBIs. He came through in a big way during the World Series against the Texas Rangers, hitting .300 with a home run and two RBIs.

In 2012, the Giants received a double-boost. Posey suffered a devastating injury during the 2011 season, which sidelined him for the majority of that year. He returned with a vengeance in 2012, hitting .336/.408/.549 with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs, en route to being named National League Most Valuable Player. While Posey was the biggest acquisition to the 2012 Giants, the biggest acquisition from outside of the organization came by the name of Melky Cabrera. Cabrera was coming off of a monster 2011 season in Kansas City (.305, 18 home runs, 87 RBIs, 20 stolen bases), and he kept it going in a big way out in San Francisco. Cabrera hit .346/.390/.516 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in 113 games, before he was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball, due to PED use. Yet again, the Giants went on to win the National League West (after finishing in 3rd the year before). The 2012 postseason saw a monumental performance by the “Kung-Fu Panda,” Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval hit .342 with six home runs and 13 RBIs during the 2012 postseason, including a World Series Game 1 performance that saw him blast three home runs. Sandoval was named World Series MVP.

In 2014, we witnessed the true birth of “MadBum,” Madison Bumgarner. That year, Bumgarner recorded (arguably) the best season of his career, prior to this season that is. Bumgarner went 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 217.1 innings pitched. He finished fourth in the race for the Cy Young Award, and the Giants finished with a record of 88-74, good for 2nd place in the NL West. The Giants made their way into the postseason as a wild card team, in a single-elimination matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was at that moment, that we witnessed the true breakout of Madison Bumgarner. When the lights were on bright, he pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout. In that game, Bumgarner mowed down ten. Bumgarner took a tough-luck loss in his lone start in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, throwing seven innings of two-run baseball. The NLCS once again saw the dominance of Bumgarner. In 15.2 innings, Bumgarner went 1-0, allowing only three runs. Bumgarner was named the MVP of the NLCS. His true dominance, though, didn’t shine through until the Giants reached the World Series. Bumgarner went 2-0 in the series, allowing only one run in 21 innings pitched. This left him with a total of only six runs allowed in 52.2 innings pitched during the postseason, good for an ERA of 1.03. Bumgarner tallied a pair of complete-game shutouts during his historical performance, as well. This made him one of only nine pitchers in baseball history to throw two shutouts in a single postseason. As if that’s not enough, Bumgarner also recorded a five-inning save in Game 7 of the World Series, to secure the Giants’ third World Championship in five seasons. A historical World Series performance earned “MadBum” the World Series MVP award.

As you can see, the Giants have had major success, when they see breakout performances from at least one of their stars. That brings me to the 2016 season. In 2015, the Giants finished with an 84-78 record, in second place of the NL West. Once again, the team missed the postseason, the season after they win the World Series. 2015 was a down year for the Giants, but as per the pattern, they’ve bounced back well in 2016. This past offseason saw San Francisco sign a pair of free agent starting pitchers, in Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. Both were expected to provide solid numbers for the Giants, and they’ve done just that. However, I don’t think anyone was prepared for what Johnny Cueto has produced. The 30-year-old signed a six-year, $130 million contract with the Giants back in mid-December, and he hasn’t looked back since. Cueto has put up incredible numbers, compiling a 13-2 record in 19 starts this season. Cueto owns a 2.64 ERA in 136.1 innings pitched. He leads the majors with an incredible four complete games, two of which were shutouts. Cueto also possesses a 119:27 K:BB ratio. The Giants currently sit with the second-best record in baseball at 57-38, only a mere 0.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs, and a comfortable 4.5 games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. Is their success this year a coincidence?

So, let’s recap. In 2010, the Giants had the early-season acquisition of Buster Posey. Posey played a major part in their World Series run, including winning NL Rookie of the Year. 2011 was a down-year, that saw San Fran miss the postseason. In 2012, Posey returned from injury with a mind-blowing MVP campaign, yet again helping lead the Giants to a World Series. 2013 was very similar to 2011, as the Giants missed the playoffs again, after winning another World Series. 2014 was the year of Bumgarner, as he practically led the Giants to “the promised land” single-handedly. 2015 followed right along with the pattern, as the Giants missed the playoffs, again. We’ve just surpassed the half-way point of the 2016 season, but things are already looking up for the Giants. They’ve gotten their normal top-notch production from Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. But, much like with Posey and Bumgarner in the past, Johnny Cueto has stolen the headlines this year with a breakout performance.

The San Francisco Giants are seemingly following an every other year type of pattern. Some view their string of success to be sheer coincidence. I, on the other hand, believe that the Giants are a team of destiny.  If they truly are a team of destiny, San Francisco fans will soon see this headline in their future.

San Francisco Giants: 2016 World Series Champions

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