Solidly built Giants again on the right track
GM Sabean adds players that fit in manager Bochy's clubhouse
The San Francisco Giants don't add up.
They have a glitzy rotation, an All-Star catcher and a lot of good players who play better as a team than if they are broken down individually.
They also have the 10th worst ERA in the National League entering Wednesday, and that glitzy rotation has the 13th worst. They have the 13th worst fielding percentage. But they do rank second in the NL in OPS and third in runs scored.
And, oh yeah, they are sitting atop the NL West, looking for a way to claim a third World Series title in four years.
So what's going on?
"Every night we sit around and sing 'Kum Ba Yah,'" said manager Bruce Bochy.
No sense giving away secrets.
"We're a talented club, and we've got a lot of guys who are home grown," said Bochy. "A lot of it is the attitude and atmosphere created within the organization, and when you look at the guys [general manager] Brian Sabean brings in, they fit here."
The Giants are a team that pretty much lives under the radar. Neither Sabean nor Bochy seek public adulation, and the folks who work for them are also low-key publicly. So when it comes to hyping Draft picks or evaluating prospects, more often than not the Giants get overlooked because they haven't curried the favor of those who draw up the rankings.
But the Giants do present a nucleus in which three of their four infielders -- third baseman Pablo Sandoval, shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt -- catcher Buster Posey, starting pitchers Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner, and closer Sergio Romo are all products of their system.
And Sabean and his scouts fill in the holes with deals for players who have been solid -- but far from spectacular -- elsewhere and emerge into key parts of the Giants' success, like second baseman Marco Scutaro, left fielder Gregor Blanco, center fielder Angel Pagan and right fielder Hunter Pence.
In the better part of 10 big league seasons, Scutaro had hit for a respectable .270 average. Then, three months shy of his 37th birthday on July 27 last season, he was dealt to the Giants by Colorado for infielder Charlie Culberson and has hit .352 -- .362 in the final two months of 2012 and .337 to open this season. He also claimed the NL Championship Series MVP Award last October.
"It is comfortable," said Scutaro.
It's comfortable because the Giants win. And the Giants' ability to win has been enhanced by the Sabean/Bochy combo, who first find the pieces to the puzzle and then make sure they fit properly.
The Giants have an impressive resume.
They have won more games (10,642 going into Wednesday) than any other Major League team.
They have won 22 pennants, tied with the Dodgers for the most of any NL team.
They have won seven World Series titles, second in the NL, four behind St. Louis.
They also have had 56 inductees in the Hall of Fame spend time with the big league club, the most of any franchise.
There was, however, a rather arid stretch from when the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958 until the emergence of Sabean as the general manager in 1996. The Giants had advanced to the World Series three times, losing to the Yankees in 1962, the A's in 1989 and the Angels in 2002, and two other times were eliminated in the NLCS, by Pittsburgh in 1971 and St. Louis in 1987.
Since Sabean was promoted to general manager before the 1997 season, however, the Giants have advanced to the postseason six times and ended a World Series drought that dated back to 1955 when they knocked off the Rangers in the Fall Classic in 2010, and then swept Detroit in 2012.
And both of those championship teams featured rosters molded freely by Sabean, no longer the subject of a previous ownership group that was focused on having star-quality players on the roster and pushed the signings of the likes of Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito to offset possible public reaction to the retirement of Barry Bonds.
The Sabean/Bochy combo found hidden nuggets in 2010 with the likes of Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, and then in 2012 with the likes of Pagan, Scutaro and Pence.
The Giants' refusal to make concessions was underscored last October.
Melky Cabrera, leading the NL in hitting when he was handed a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance, was eligible to be added to the NLCS roster, but the Giants declined, preferring to stick with the roster that allowed them to pull away from the Dodgers down the regular-season stretch.
Cabrera has since signed with Toronto as a free agent.
The Giants, meanwhile, didn't blink at the Dodgers and their free-spending ways in making in-season additions a year ago, and haven't missed a step in the opening weeks of 2013, either.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.