When you think about historic sports dynasties, the list usually includes teams that were able to win two, three, or even more consecutive championships. The Chicago Bulls of the ’90s, the Pittsburgh Steelers of the ’70s, and the Edmonton Oilers of the ’80s are all teams that dominated their respective sport and, thus, hold special places in the history of athletics. All of those teams won multiple championships during their decade of success, capturing back-to-back titles at least once.
That is not something that the potential team of the 2010s, the San Francisco Giants, can say during their run of excellence in Major League Baseball. San Francisco has captured three World Series championships since 2010, winning every other year in 2010, 2012, and 2014. In each of those seasons between titles, the Giants failed to make the postseason.
Now, here in 2016, the team could be on the verge of continuing one of the strangest dynasties in the history of sport. Just how good are the Giants’ chances of winning another “even-numbered season” championship this season? Let’s take a look at their roster and competition to see if they’ll celebrate once again in October.
A look at the roster
Throughout their run this decade, the Giants have used excellent pitching to find success. This offseason, the team proved that they hope to continue that trend by signing coveted free agent Johnny Cueto to a multi-year deal. The addition of Cueto gives the Giants a potentially devastating rotation that also includes Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain. Their bullpen looks strong as well behind the arms of closer Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo. Pitching set the team back a bit in 2015 (mostly due to injuries), but the Giants should have one of the best staffs in the game this season.
Things also look good at the plate for San Francisco. Buster Posey had another MVP-quality campaign in 2015 and there’s no indication that he won’t be even better this season. Solid outfielders like Hunter Pence also return to the team this season, but one of the most important moves of the offseason involved signing one of the better shortstops in the game, Brandon Crawford, to a multi-year deal. At the end of the day, the Giants return the core of a lineup that scored the fifth-most runs in the National League a season ago. Teams should have difficulty dealing with them both at the plate and on the mound.
Competition in the NL West
While the talent on the Giants’ roster is more than capable of achieving great things this season, the competition within their own division could easily get in the way of their quest for a fourth title this decade. The bottom of the NL West, which will (in all likelihood) include the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, leaves much to be desired. Sitting right there in contention with San Francisco, however, are two strong teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Arizona missed the playoffs during the past four campaigns. An offseason that saw them bring in ace pitcher Zack Greinke, though, has raised expectations in the desert. Time will tell how the rest of the D-backs’ pitching rotation will pan out (they weren’t very good last season), but offensively, Arizona has enough to keep up with anybody. Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock (All-Stars in 2015) led the team to a solid offensive season in 2015 — one in which they scored the second-most runs in the National League. They’re a bit of a dark horse, but the D-backs have what it takes to contend with the Giants in the NL West.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, on the other hand, are the popular favorites in the division. Despite losing Greinke to Arizona, the Dodgers still have an excellent rotation that includes ace Clayton Kershaw and a new addition in Scott Kazmir. Offensively, Yasiel Puig needs to have a bounce-back season and Adrian Gonzalez needs to keep producing runs at a high rate, but it feels like the Dodgers have enough at the plate as well (despite an average 2015 on offense). LA hasn’t missed the postseason since 2012 and there’s little reason to believe 2016 will end that streak.
Stacked field in the NL
Outside of the NL West, the competition the Giants will face throughout the rest of the National League is fierce. The World Series favorite this season is the young and hungry Chicago Cubs, who have to motivated as ever coming into this season after reaching the NLCS last year. Right behind the Cubs are the Dodgers, before you get to the defending NL champs, the New York Mets and their shutdown pitching staff.
In terms of odds to win the World Series, the Giants come in fourth in the NL behind those three, but the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, and Pittsburgh Pirates will have something to say about things this season as well. Looking at everything, the Giants have as good a shot as anyone to win it all in 2016. They have a balanced roster that can find success in all phases of the game, be it pitching, hitting, or fielding.
San Francisco will have to duke it out to even make it to the postseason, but if they get there, recent history shows that you shouldn’t bet against them. Maybe it has something to do with even numbers. Maybe it has to do with an underdog mentality. Whatever it is, a dynasty could be cemented in the Bay Area before the end of the year. Well, make it two, thanks to those guys in Oakland.