The Giants used the draft and savvy spending to reach the World Series.
By: Braden Gall | 10/29/10, 5:01 PM EDT
There is more than one way to skin a cat.
Mark Teixeira cost $180 million. C.C. Sabathia cost $152 million. A.J. Burnett cost $82.5 million. And yes, the Yankees got their 27th World Championship for all that money.
But that was last year.
Glory is an extremely fleeting concept in major league baseball these days. Where are the Bronx Bombers and their league-leading $206 million payroll now?
Like the rest of us, they are sitting on their couches watching the San Francisco Giants, and the league’s 10th-largest payroll, dominate the game from 60-feet, 6-inches away.
A few years ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were showered with adoration, not just for reaching the World Series but for how they did it. It was long and tedious process. It was the right way to do things. It was the future of baseball.
One out of three isn’t too bad, because building through the draft and grooming the foundation for success from within has taken center stage once again. Just ask the Phillies. Or the Braves. Or even the Padres, for that matter.
So why haven’t the Giants, and general manager Brain Sabean, been given the same sort of praise the Rays got in 2008?
The blueprint for the Giants’ championship run is equally impressive, if not more so. Like the Rays, San Fran won the NL West and two subsequent playoff series based largely on excellent homegrown pitching. In fact, the four-man homegrown rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner is only the second fully homegrown rotation in postseason history (since the inception of the draft in 1965), the other being the 1986 Boston Red Sox rotation comprised of Roger Clemens, Oil Can Boyd, Al Nipper and Bruce Hurst.
Not only is the Giants foursome farm-raised, but three of the four were also first-round picks. Lincecum was the 10th pick in the 2006 first round. Cain was the 25th pick of the 2002 draft. And Bumgarner was the 10th pick of the 2007 draft. Sanchez, a 27th-round selection, is the only one who was not considered an elite talent entering the draft.
Even the casual baseball fan, with a quick glance at most first rounds, will realize just how difficult it is to “hit” on every first-round pick as well as the Giants have over the span of a decade.
The combined ERA of those four starters in the regular season was a paltry 3.19. It carried over into the postseason as the Giants allowed only 2.9 runs per game en route to the World Series. It was the year of the pitcher, after all.
Add to it the Giants closer, Brian Wilson, who was drafted by the Giants in the 24th round of the 2003 draft, and the five most important arms on the team were all hand-picked by Giants brass. Give credit to the front office, which has stood by its draftees when times were tough — try four straight sub-76-win seasons from 2005 to 2008.
The other half of the equation has been the patchwork offense full of also-rans, has-beens and no-names. Buster Posey is a star and a former first-round pick. But he is only the second rookie catcher in World Series history to hit in the three hole (the other is named Yogi). He is special.
What about the rest of the Giants hitters, though?
Again, Sabean gets the credit. The Giants added a Gold Glove-caliber defender, and former champion, to play third. They plucked a former batting champ to play second base. Their shortstop had a World Series walk-off hit nearly 14 years ago. The first baseman had one contract offer in the off-season. The centerfielder played over 1,000 minor league games before getting his break in the bigs. Toss in a few outfielders claimed off waivers, and you have yourself a NL pennant.
And none of that includes the NL’s No. 2 hitter from a year ago, Pablo Sandoval, who has been noticeably absent from the lineup.
The Yankees won a World Series title last fall by outspending the competition. If the Giants win the 106th fall classic, it will be because they out-scouted the rest of the league.
And that is a good thing for baseball.
Most Popular Articles
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Get the latest news and find out what our Athlon Sports experts have to say each week.
Contests & Promotions
Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing!
Enter the Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing game. Just head over to athlon.myfantasyracing.com and register for your chance to win a chance to watch a 2014 race from the grandstands. You'll also have a chance to win other amazing prizes such as an autographed Kyle Busch helmet.