In my opinion, come October, every team will have its star players. However, what separates the good teams from the great ones is the production from "role players." What are role players? I just like to call role players the guys who do not make a ton of money and do not receive the same publicity as say an MVP candidate or triple crown winner. For the Giants, they simply had better role players than the Tigers. Marco Scutaro, the NLCS MVP, came up with key hits throughout the postseason and drove game winning run in Game 4. Gregor Blanco, someone who did not even play in 2011, came up with spectacular defense and produced a key RBI triple in Game 3. Even on an intangible basis, Hunter Pence's leadership has been quoted frequently for uniting the Giants to play their best. Another key factor was the role of the San Francisco bullpen. Heading into the playoffs, I praised the Cincinnati Reds bullpen as the best in baseball, with talented arms such as Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall leading the charge. The Giants, no doubt, also had a very solid bullpen (4.01 R/G) but was far from being among the elite pens in Major League Baseball (9th). However, one aspect that was not accounted for was the development of Tim Lincecum as a relief ace. Lincecum, a two time Cy Young award winner, threw the third most innings this postseason for a Giants pitching and struck out 8 in 4 and 2/3 innings pitched in the World Series alone. Using Lincecum to pitch in high leverage situations greatly aided the Giants ability to get out of potential jams with little to no damage. The maximization of every piece on the Giants roster allowed them to roll over a team considered the favorites heading into the series. Depth and overall team production was simply better than a frontloaded Tigers team in terms of talent.
The Giants became just the second team ever to win six elimination games en route to a World Series Championship. A season that culminated in the greatest team honor was no doubt without adversity. Melky Cabrera, arguably the team's best hitter (.346 AVG, 158 OPS+), was suspended on August 15th for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the blockbuster of the Century in the infamous Nick Punto Trade (that also happened to send former all-stars Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to Tinseltown). Fanatical and borderline insane closer Brian Wilson pitched in two games before being shut down for the season for Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, players such as Sergio Romo and the aforementioned Blanco, Pence, and Scutaro all greatly contributed toward the Giants clinching their second World Series Title in the past three seasons. Is it too early to proclaim this Giants team as the next great baseball franchise. Probably, considering we were saying the same thing about the Red Sox a couple of years ago and look how that has turned out. But one thing is for sure, and that is the San Francisco Giants are the champions of baseball.