Why the 2012 Giants Are Even More Complete Than the 2010 World Series Champs
As it was in Game 1, when Barry Zito skunked reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander to the face-melting amazement of millions, the author of Thursday's tour de force was another much-maligned southpaw starter—albeit one on the opposite end of his career arc.
Madison Bumgarner, the young lefty sidewinder who has looked out of sorts since late August, fanned eight Tiger hitters over seven scoreless frames to pick up his first victory of the postseason.
With just two wins separating these Giants from championship glory everlasting, the comparisons between this team and the 2010 outfit that won the franchise's first world title since leaving New York are inevitable.
So, which version of the orange-'n-black would you take?
I'm casting my lot with this year's bunch, but it's close.
The 2012 Giants had a better regular-season record (94 wins to 92), but a worse Pythagorean winning percentage (.564 to .580). And the isolated components within those big-picture outcomes have a similar, yin-and-yang sort of feel.
This year's group is a better offensive club, scoring more runs and boasting a (slightly) higher wRC+. The 2010 gang had a better staff, as evidenced by its head-to-head advantages in runs allowed, FIP and pitching WAR.
The 2010 bullpen was better overall, thanks in large part to the insanely dominant back-end trio of Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla. But the 2012 relief corps is a good deal deeper, with five regularly used pitchers (Romo, Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and George Kontos) sporting earned run averages under three.
As I try to break the dead heat, my mind keeps racing back to a peculiar, and perhaps specious, string of logic.
Though I'll concede that the two squads are near equals in the quality of their actual performance, the 2012 team should be a lot better. And the miniature general manager pacing around the outer rim of my skull thinks that should matter.
I mean look at the way that 2010 roster was constructed.
Those Giants scored 697 runs—good for 18th in baseball—and that was with career years from Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres at ages 33 and 32, respectively; with Pat Burrell registering an OPS north of .800 for the last time in his career; with Freddy Sanchez playing over 100 games, a feat he's yet to duplicate in the seasons since; and with Juan Uribe making one final pass at everyday productivity before collapsing into chubby-cheeked rubble.
Remove any one of those logic-defying conditions from the sequence, and they probably don't make the postseason.
Consider: The 2010 Giants had seven position players aged 32 or older play in more than 60 games. This year's squad had only two, Ryan Theriot and Marco Scutaro.
That 2010 team was a marvel of mishmashed parts, like a dusted-off Rube Goldberg machine held together by calcified saliva and cobwebs. They survived—brittle bones, empty aspirin bottles and all—but the infrastructure was suspect at best.
Especially when you recall that 42 percent of the team's payroll was committed to three players—Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria—who combined to accumulate 1.8 WAR.
By comparison, the 2012 squad is a model of functionality and foresight. Today's Giants roster features better balance between offense and defense, and it's younger at so many key positions: shortstop, first base, center field, third base.
It's a damn good team, and it ought to be. As for 2010, well, some things are better left unexplained.
Now I understand that this is all purely hypothetical—if it feels a bit abstract, I'm sure you'll let me know in the comments. But if you are a Giants fan and you do disagree, take heart in the fact that we're having this conversation in the first place.
Along the spectrum of hair-splitting arguments, you've stumbled into a pretty good one.
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