It's been nearly 12 hours since the Giants brought the first World Series trophy to San Francisco, but the question that's on everyone's mind is who's next?
Who will be next season's Giants?
Who will be the team that defies the odds, utilizes one of the most talented, biggest upside starting rotations, makes the most of a rag-tag roster and seizes their opportunity to turn Major League Baseball on its head?
I've got one team in mind. The 2011 Baltimore Orioles.
Believe it or not, this team isn't as bad as the 2010 66-96 record indicated. They have a new manager who has instilled a new set of beliefs, and for the first time in a very, VERY long time this team is one that believes it can win. And in a division like the A.L. East, that counts for a whole heck of a lot. Just ask the Rays.
And I know it seems like a super long-shot, but keep in mind a few of these things
-this Giants squad spent the first two-and-a-half months of the season alternating between third and fourth place.
-their offensive effort was led by a 33-year old journeyman, Aubrey Huff, who hit .290 with 26 homers and 86 RBI.
-their two-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher had arguably the worst season of his career
-the ranking veteran, Barry Zito, went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA and worse than a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio
-offensively, the Giants were a middle of the pack team, ranking seventh in the N.L. in average, and ninth in runs scored.
-no team in the N.L. was worse on the basepaths as the Giants stole a league-low 55 bases, and had the worst steal success rate at 63 percent.
-their pitching staff ranked as the third-worst in terms of walks issued, trailing only the Cubs (75-87) and the Brewers (77-85).
So, taking all of that into account, and fully realizing how unpredictable this season has been, let's examine why, I think, the Orioles have the capability and potential to emerge as the Giants of next season.