Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, or should I say, Madison Bumgarner, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, for beating the Kansas City Royals and winning the World Series. The Giants have now won three World Series in five years, becoming only the second NL team to do that since the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942, '44 and '46.
People are calling the Giants a dynasty, and on the surface, that makes sense. Three world championships in five years is certainly impressive, and San Francisco is enjoying a golden age of baseball right now.
But is this really a dynasty? When you see the Giants, do they really pass the dynasty smell test?
Certainly there are worse teams that have won the World Series. The 1969 Mets came out of nowhere, the 1988 Dodgers defied explanation, and the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals were wholly unimpressive. And other than Kirby Puckett, the Minnesota Twins teams that won it all in 1987 and '91 weren't ones filled with superstars either.
The 2014 San Francisco Giants finished the regular season with the 10th-best record in the Majors. Of the 10 teams (5 in the NL, 5 in the AL) to make the postseason, they were tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the worst record of all of them. All four American League teams finished with more wins than the Giants' 88.
Just one year ago, the Giants went 76-86. They also missed the playoffs in 2011. They have not won back-to-back titles.
Of course, it's much harder to win a championship now, with teams that make it via the wild card needing 12 wins to take home the title, 11 for division winners.
But if we're comparing this Giants team to other great MLB playoff teams of the past, can a team that finished in second place this year, the team with the 10th best record in the regular season, really be considered part of a "dynasty?" It's fair to wonder how many other "dynasties" we would have seen over the years if five teams from each league had been eligible to make the postseason.
While that does not take away from their tremendous accomplishment this October, this is not a great team.
They featured a rotation led by their ace, Madison Bumgarner, who was simply unhittable in the playoffs. But their #2 starter was Jake Peavy. Their #3 starter was Tim Hudson. Their #4 starter was Ryan Vogelsong. They lost Matt Cain for the season. Tim Lincecum was a non-factor.
As a result, the Giants almost single-handedly won this world championship on the back of one guy.
Bumgarner 3-0, 0.43 ERA, pitched 21 of #Giants 61 innings in World Series. You will never see a better WS pitching performance.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) October 30, 2014
Bumgarner pitched more than one-third of all the innings thrown by San Francisco pitchers in the World Series. This was not a team effort. This was a one-man show.
Crazy Stat of Day: Madison Bumgarner's ERA in 2014 World Series: 0.43 All other Giants starters: 9.92— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 30, 2014
And while that speaks to the roll he was on, it also speaks to the staggeringly weak starting rotation the Giants somehow won a world championship with.
They were terrified to let their second and third-best starting pitchers wade into any trouble whatsoever. They had their ace, Bumgarner, pitch five innings of make-or-break baseball, in Game 7, two days after pitching a complete game shutout in Game 5.
Of course, manager Bruce Bochy was smart. He was doing everything he could to win a championship, and he made the right calls. But the Giants won this World Series almost entirely because of one pitcher, two hitters (Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval) and a mildly effective bullpen.
Yes, winning is all that matters, and the Giants won the World Series for the third time in five years. It's a tremendous accomplishment and San Francisco fans should be proud of what their team did this October.
But can we really compare this Giants group to the great Yankees dynasty of the late '90s/early 2000s, the Atlanta Braves of the '90s, the Oakland A's of the late '80s and early '70s, the Cincinnati Reds of the '70s, and the great Cardinals and Yankees teams from the middle of the 20th century? It seems like a stretch.
The Giants are a model organization, and they have somehow found a way to win three World Series in five years for their long-suffering fans.
But they simply don't have the feel of a dynasty, a word that should be reserved for the very best of the best to ever play the game.