The Giants have what it takes to repeat as World Champs.
The D word in baseball—dynasty—is usually thrown around in circles when referring to past New York Yankees teams, but the current San Francisco Giants are getting closer to being called just that and have what it takes to win their third World Series in four years.
No team has repeated since the Yankees went back-to-back-to-back from 1998-2000. Three teams since then—the Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants—have won two World Series championships, and the Giants have more than what it takes to do it again in 2013.
Usually the Giants go about their business quietly in the regular season, making it into the playoffs relatively unnoticed. However, once they're in, they are assassins.
Less than two months into the offseason, the Giants should be considered the favorites to take home another championship and cement themselves as baseball's model franchise for these reasons:
Scutaro was the NLCS MVP in 2012, batting .500 in that series against the Cards.
The tendency for many championship teams in the offseason is to let some of their players go in free agency and add some more affordable pieces who they perceive can do a similar job. Not this ballclub.
San Francisco wasted no time by re-signing left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year deal in mid-November worth $18 million.
Most recently, the Giants inked leadoff man and center fielder Angel Pagan to a four-year deal. Also, according to a tweet by CBSSPORTS.com's senior baseball writer Dave Knobler, the Giants just reached an agreement with NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro:
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 5, 2012
The Giants non-tendered Brian Wilson, making him a free agent as he recovers from an injury that ended his 2012 season in mid-April. While he could return at a discounted rate, it appears the 30-year-old may be on his way out of San Francisco for a team in need of a closer.
Wilson appears to be the exception to GM Brian Sabean's loyalty. Sabean seems to be sending the message that if you produce for the Giants, you will be rewarded.
He has certainly done so this offseason with bringing back key free agents who were very important in the World Series run. In this day and age of professional baseball, team turnover is always high, but that doesn't appear to be the case with this Giants franchise.
Cain will be the anchor at the top of the rotation again in 2013.
This starting rotation is simply better than any other one in the NL.
Matt Cain is a bona fide ace, a No. 1 who will again go about his business in 2013 and will only get better pitching in big games. Cain was not entirely dominant in the postseason (3.60 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 30 postseason innings), but don't look for that rend to continue going forward.
Madison Bumgarner won 16 games in the regular season and while he struggled with a 6.00 ERA in the playoffs, he is only a ripe 23 years old and will grow from the experience.
Projected No. 3 starter Tim Lincecum was about as dreadful as you could be in 2012, going 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA. The two-time Cy Young Award winner regained his confidence in the playoffs as a set-up man, compiling a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings.
According to USA Today's Joe Perrotto, manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum will be in the rotation next year and look to regain his form.
And then there's No. 4 starter Ryan Vogelsong, a quality right-hander who won 14 games in 2012 and was simply clutch in postseason play. In 24.2 innings, Vogelsong went 3-0 with a minuscule 1.09 ERA.
Finally, the Giants round out the rotation with Barry Zito, a man most well-know for being absurdly overpaid when he signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Giants before the 2007 season.
As bad as the deal has been for the Giants, Zito finally made it worth it in 2012, winning 15 games and possibly the two biggest games of his career—an elimination Game 5 of the NLDS and Game 1 of the World Series.
The Nationals boast an excellent rotation with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, newly-acquired Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler, but they've yet to prove it in postseason play.
The Cardinals have age and health questions to address with their rotation, while the Phillies have struggled to overcome the Giants in recent years.
From top to bottom, this Giants rotation is as good as any rotation in baseball and more than capable of putting together more great performances next October.
Posey, the NL MVP in 2012, provides the offense in the middle of the lineup.
Even after the Giants have won two of the past three World Series titles, critics will still say the Giants do not have enough bats to win it all. It is a ridiculous argument that the team must laugh at considering the success they've had.
Sure, they wouldn't mind a 40-homer guy on the team, but they care more about chemistry and playing the game the way it should be, which produces winning.
Plus, there's nothing wrong with having the reigning NL MVP, catcher Buster Posey, on your team. Posey hit .336 with 24 HR and 103 RBI in the regular season.
Additionally, the Giants have World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval and will have Hunter Pence for a full season, who produced 104 RBI between the Phillies and the Giants in 2012.
Also, the Giants made big leaps in runs scored and batting average in 2012. In 2011, the Giants ranked 29th (out of 30 teams) in baseball in runs with 570 and 28th in batting average at .242. In 2012, the Giants jumped all the way up to 12th in runs scored with 718, while ranking fifth in the league in batting average at .269 despite playing their home games at spacious AT&T Park.
With another full season of at-bats, young guys such as Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford will continue to develop into better hitters.
For all the worry about this team's hitting, they finally have a formidable offense to balance a great pitching staff.
Sergio Romo was lights-out in the playoffs in 2012.
The Giants and Cardinals both seem to be rewriting the book on the importance of bullpens in the majors. Both teams subscribe to the philosophy that a good bullpen is a necessity to win, not just a luxury.
Just look at the Detroit Tigers, who had nowhere near the depth as the Giants in the pen, in large part due to Jose Valverde's struggles. In the past, teams could get by with a sub-par bullpen with one stud closer, but now the two NL powerhouses have proven that stockpiling a relief corps with quality arms is the difference between a good team and a great team.
Even with the possible departure of Brian Wilson, the Giants will still be loaded in the bullpen. Sergio Romo has proved more than capable of handling save duties, while Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Clay Hensley, George Kontos and Jose Mijares make up the rest of it.
The Giants still have room for improvement in the bullpen and could add a veteran arm in the offseason.
Their 3.56 bullpen ERA in the regular season wasn't spectacular, but they got it done when it mattered most in key situations in the postseason.