There’s a phrase in sports, “defense wins championships”. Until two years ago I thought that was total garbage. If a competition is judged by how many points you get, then you better be scoring a lot of points. Even the last few championships in major sports show how important it is to have a high powered offense by setting runs, points and yards records. However, when the Giants won the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers, I knew that whomever wrote that was a genius.
On the last day of the regular season, the Giants pitched their way into the playoffs. With nobody expecting them to get by Derek Lowe and the Braves, they used their defensive prowess to upend the Braves in 4 including a clinic put on by Tim Lincecum with 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Lowe. They marched through the Phillies with stellar pitching, and the most complete rotation + relief in the past 20 years. Finally, finishing up the Rangers in 5 (with some help from Cody Ross) to hoist the commissioner’s trophy, and bring the city of San Francisco it’s first baseball championship ever.
Now, combine that pitching staff (minus a true closer) with a team batting average that is .29 points higher than 2010 (.252:.281) and you get the hottest team in baseball, winners of 10 of their last 11. Not to mention since the all-star break, these same Giants have gone 50-22.
What should we attribute this to? Buster Posey for MVP? Maybe. Lincecum and Cain getting hot at the right time? Sure. Taking a closer look at the roster though, the real reason jumps out. While teams like the Dodgers and Angles traded an arm and a leg for big names (that got nowhere), the Giants have kept it behind the scenes grabbing Scutaro (batting .361) and Pence (2nd on team in HRs and RBIs). These are the deals that win championships.
The next two weeks should be fun to watch. The race between the Giants, Reds, and Nationals will be a barn burner for first place in the National League, and with the NL winning the All Star Game this year, the ever important home field advantage is still up for grabs. Let’s see if the future MVP Buster Posey will be able to guide his team to the top!