There are plenty of elements that go into the success—or failure—of any season.
San Francisco was not immune to any of them.
While many are not necessarily the most critical components of the Giants' failures this season, some deserve to be recognized and analyzed. After all, there are dozens of reasons behind an abysmal season and not all of them can be compiled into one list.
Here are a few that do not crack the top ten.
Major League Baseball experimented with its schedule to a great extent in 2013. There was the transfer of the Houston Astros over to the American League, which resulted in an odd number of teams in both the American and National Leagues.
The change meant that interleague play would be required between at least two teams each day of the season.
MLB also dictated a different schedule format that lessened travel between divisions and focused more on inter-divisional play.
That should mean easier travel schedules, correct? Well, not exactly.
San Francisco, like most teams, has had a weird 2013 schedule. Unlike a sizable portion of other teams, however, the Giants did not adapt well to it.
Case in point, one of the Giants' longest road trips occurred between June 1 and 16 with a brief two-game home stand mixed in between.
San Francisco spent the first three days of the road trip in St. Louis taking on the Cardinals. They returned home for two games against the Toronto Blue Jays before going on the road again to face the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves in that order.
Their record during that period: 6-8.
San Francisco had another road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds later that month. That record was an abysmal 1-8.
If a .500 record on a road trip is a reasonable goal, the Giants certainly fell short.
The World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic bears a little bit of the blame behind San Francisco's 2013 difficulties.
A number of Giants elected to play in the WBC, which took place before the regular season began. Relief pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo, starter Ryan Vogelsong and third baseman Pablo Sandoval all participated in the tournament.
Buster Posey, however, did not.
According to an article published by SF Gate, San Francisco wanted to be careful with Posey following his 2011 ankle injury and elongated 2012 season. The Giants also were likely not thrilled with Romo extending his season after being such a critical part of the World Series team the year before.
As it turned out, Affeldt, Sandoval and Vogelsong would each suffer injuries over the course of the regular season. In Sandoval's case, his nagging ankle injury hampered his 2013 campaign and unquestionably had an effect on the Giants offense.
Sandoval's struggles earn a slide of their own.
Yet the WBC as a whole cannot necessarily be blamed for San Francisco's failures. There were plenty of other teams that had stars in the tournament, and, while the added season can lead to fatigue and injury, many of those other players did not suffer from the same effects.
Thus, the WBC is not a primary reason.
Slow Maturation of Brandon Belt
It was not long ago that first baseman Brandon Belt was touted as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.
That thought may seem laughable now.
While Belt certainly cannot bear the brunt of the Giants' offensive frustrations in 2013, his lack of production at the plate is a reason behind the team's woes.
As of August 12, Belt is hitting a respectable .271 and his power numbers are up from last season. He already has 13 home runs in 2013 compared to only seven all of last year. That is obviously a good sign and points in the direction that Belt may be destined for bigger things in the years to come.
The one problem with Belt is that he is a streaky hitter—a trait not uncommon among young sluggers.
August has been his best month this year—a month that finds Belt hitting a whopping .438.
Yet Belt has also had his cold streaks, low-lighted by an abysmal July that saw San Francisco's first baseman hit only .225.
With a team wrought with inconsistency, Belt's streakiness has not been much of a benefit.
Perhaps San Francisco's coaching staff has not developed him correctly. Perhaps Belt is underachieving to a small extent. Whatever the case, the Giants were surely hoping for a breakout year from the third-year slugger.
While he has not been terrible by any means, thus not cracking the top-10 reasons, Belt's cold spells have ominously paralleled many of the Giants' low points in 2013.
General Manager Brian Sabean
It is hard to throw the long-tenured general manager under the bus, but if the Giants' failures are truly from top to bottom, Brian Sabean has to bear some of the blame.
Granted, Sabean has done tremendous work with the franchise this decade.
One has to look no further than the two World Series championships engineered, in part, by numerous transactions from Sabean's hand.
Yet one of those moves that took place in between the two championships may be one that resonates among the few infamous decisions Sabean has made.
The 2011 trade of former Giants prospect Zach Wheeler for outfielder Carlos Beltran turned out to be a rental swap. At the time, San Francisco seemed set with their pitching rotation. It had been their strength in 2010 and continued in 2011. The Giants needed a bat and Beltran would provide that.
Unfortunately, Beltran would depart for St. Louis after the season, and Wheeler became a part of the New York Mets' long-term plans.
In 2013, San Francisco would find itself short on pitching—a situation that shall be described soon. Wheeler could have been a part of the Giants' future.
In hindsight, the move was not a smart one.
While Sabean brought back two critical components before 2013 in Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, there have been relatively few other notable moves.
Fortunately, Sabean realized at the trading deadline that all is not lost with this group of Giants. This same team won a World Series a year ago. They are underachieving in 2013, but that does not mean uprooting the entire system.
For that, Sabean deserves some credit.
Even Sabean probably could not have predicted San Francisco's downfall, which is why he does not make the top ten.