The San Francisco Giants are building an unlikely dynasty on the West Coast, winning two of the last three World Series Championships. They open Spring Training with plenty of familiar faces as they go for back-to-back titles, hoping to improve on their repeat attempt in 2011. But this season will go better for the Giants than their last repeat attempt and let’s break down the reasons why.
First, this Giants team is younger than it was in 2011. Despite there being a lot of familiar faces, the core contributors of last year’s title are significantly younger than the group that drove the Giants to the top in 2010. The 2011 team was undone by down years from veterans like Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, aging veterans that the Giants rode hard the year before.
The 2012 championship team, on the other hand, is led by a parade of twenty-somethings who are just now hitting their prime. Buster Posey, the 25-year-old reigning National League MVP, looks to be just scratching the surface of his game and is ready to begin the best years of his career. Along with ace Matt Cain (28), first baseman Brandon Belt (24), third baseman Pablo Sandoval (26) and shortstop Brandon Crawford (26), the Giants are well positioned to have the young legs to handle another deep run in the playoffs.
Second, the Giants aren’t likely to get decimated by injuries like they did in 2011. The Giants were actually in first place of the NL West on May 25, 2011, when Posey was lost for the year after a vicious home-plate collision with Scott Cousins that left many wondering if the young catcher would ever get behind home plate again. Losing Posey gutted the Giants that season and injuries to Freddy Sanchez and Brian Wilson further weakened the club as they limped to the finish, ending up eight games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
General manager Brian Sabean learned from that experience, however. Not only has he worked to make the core of his roster younger, he has also worked on adding depth at key positions to protect the team in case of injury. Barring another freak injury, this group should be deep and young enough to sustain their success from last season.
It won’t be easy and if they repeat, they’ll have to do it against an improved NL West. But this Giants squad is built to maintain their success, much more so than their 2011 counterparts.