First things first, congratulations are in order for the San Francisco Giants. They are again the World Series champions after they put on a dominating pitching display against the Detroit Tigers. They swept a Tigers team that was heavily favored by most pundits to win the World Series, even at the beginning of the season. However, what is more interesting is how the San Francisco Giants and their GM Brian Sabean were able to turn over their roster between the 2010 championship and their 2012 championship.
Many people have pointed out that Buster Posey was the only player that was on the field for the final out of the 2010 World Series AND the 2012 World Series. That’s not to say that the roster contained only one holdover from 2010, but it shows that Sabean was able to create another World Series champion with different field players and with the strength of his team being their pitching.
A quick overview of the 2010 roster and trades as compared to 2012 will shed some light on this. In 2010, the Giants starting rotation for the World Series consisted of a 4 man rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner. No one can forget the eccentric closer of the team that year, Brian Wilson. The 2010 team put Pat Burrell, Andres Torres and Cody Ross in the outfield for most of the games, with Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe starting in the infield. There were subtle tweaks from game to game when playing with the AL’s DH slot, but these were the general starters for the 2010 team. The players of note that were on the roster but not in the World Series included Pablo Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, and Barry Zito, who spun a gem in game 1 of the 2012 series against Justin Verlander. There was only one trade of note by the Giants in 2010, and that was trading away catcher Bengie Molina to make way for Buster Posey to be the everyday catcher.
2012 was a very different looking team come the World Series. They were led again by their pitchers, with a few similar names, but as far as starting pitching goes, excluding one very big name, Tim Lincecum. The former multiple Cy Young winner had a terrible year in 2012 and was relegated to a bullpen role, albeit a very important bullpen role. The 4-man “rotation”, if you can call it that in a sweep, consisted of Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. Zito and Vogelsong were both veterans that many thought had seen their best days pass them by but both ended up being pivotal pitchers for the Giants playoff run. Brian Wilson, then the most recognizable closer this side of Mariano Rivera, was lost earlier in the season and Sergio Romo eventually claimed that mantle and had a terrific post-season. In the field, there was much less that was recognizable from 2010. The sole starting holdovers that were on the roster at all in 2010 were Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. In the outfield, Bruce Bochy started Hunter Pence, one of the higher profile acquisitions during the season, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco, who took over in the outfield after Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for failing a drug test. The infield included the previously mentioned Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, along with Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Marco Scutaro, a much less heralded acquisition but one that turned out to be even more important.
Other than Buster Posey, none of these names were big name field players, but this team was led by pitching, defense and timely hitting. Brian Sabean has proven himself to be a fantastic GM by creating two teams that became World Series champions with minimal hold overs between the two. Most multiple championship winning teams need a core of field players to come back year to year, but all Brian Sabean needed was his fantastic young pitchers, and the great play of two veteran pitchers. Sabean has had his fair share of bad signings, including Barry Zito, even though that is a bit easier to swallow now. But, building two different championship teams is nothing to scoff at when you have teams that can’t buy a championship in today’s MLB.
Once again, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, manager Bruce Bochy and General Manager Brian Sabean. You all deserve a few weeks off before you start your second title defense.