San Francisco Giants Defy Odds, Win with Experience and Teamwork


According to Al Saracevic of the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Giants “went into the postseason with the farthest odds of anyone, other than the Royals, to win the World Series.”

The Giants still have a lot to overcome if they want to make it to their third World Series in five years, but in the 2014 MLB postseason so far, the Giants continue to do what they do best. They defy the odds.

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There were many factors that could’ve prevented the Giants from winning the National League Wild Card game. They entered their Wild Card matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates as the second-seeded wild card team, they had to play on the road, and they were unsure if they’d even get the chance to come back and play in front of their home crowd at AT&T Park again.

The Pirates are also a much stronger team at home. In addition, Edinson Volquez, the Pirates’ starter for the Wild Card game, had been excellent in his recent starts, and the Giants were without Mike Morse, and their leadoff hitter, Angel Pagan.

Despite these factors, what did the Giants do? They defied the odds.

Not only did they win this Wild Card game, but they also dominated the Pirates 8-0 behind a Brandon Crawford grand slam and a complete game from Madison Bumgarner. They took advantage of the Pirates’ lack of playoff experience, and that proved to be the main difference between the two teams in this game.

On to the NLDS.

The Giants again faced some serious adversity heading into the NLDS. First, they were set to face the Washington Nationals, who finished the 2014 regular season with the best record in the National League and tied for the second best record in all of MLB.

Oct 7, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence celebrates after defeating the Washington Nationals in game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Second, they again had to play a series without Morse and Pagan, and third, the Nationals had home field advantage.

Lastly, the Nationals boast the best starting pitching rotation in MLB. The Giants had to face aces Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister.

What did the Giants do in the NLDS? They defied the odds.

They beat Strasburg and the Nationals in the first game 3-2 behind a strong start from Jake Peavy, they won the 18-inning marathon in the second game 2-1 behind an 18th inning home run from Brandon Belt, and after dropping the third game, they won the fourth game 3-2 behind a solid outing from Ryan Vogelsong and some mistakes by the Nationals.

The Giants, yet again, used their experience in the postseason to their advantage against the Nationals, and they were set on closing out the series at home, according to Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle.

"“These guys were determined not to get on that plane and go back to Washington,” Bochy said. “I’ve never seen somebody’s will stronger than these guys’ is.”"

Now, the Giants are headed off to the NLCS to take on a familiar foe, the St. Louis Cardinals. This will be the fifth year in a row that the Giants or the Cardinals will win the NL pennant.

The Giants and Cardinals faced off in the 2012 NLCS. As we know, the Giants were down 3-1 to the Cardinals in the series, but they pulled off yet another miraculous comeback and won the series.

Throughout this postseason, the Giants have smelled weakness and inexperience in their opponents and have capitalized on that because of their familiarity with the pressure of the playoffs. The Giants are facing a different beast in the Cardinals though. The Giants have met their match, in terms of playoff experience and postseason poise, in the Cardinals, so this series could be tougher for the Giants than usual.

However, the Giants’ approach in the postseason remains the same. They beat teams with the fundamentals: moving runners over, having productive outs, playing crisp defense, taking advantage of an opponent’s mistakes, etc. This type of approach can work in any series, no matter who the opponent is.

Bruce Bochy has become the master of smart pitching changes and preaching the importance of small-ball, and this fundamentally-sound approach can get the Giants through a tough series like this upcoming NLCS.

In addition to Bochy’s postseason heroics, the Giants truly get clutch contributions up and down their roster. There isn’t one player who would’ve clearly won MVP of the NLDS, if that award had been given out, and that proves the Giants’ teamwork and cohesion as an offense and defense.

October 7, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants players celebrate in the clubhouse after defeating the Washington Nationals 3-2 in game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Different players step up each night, whether it’s one of the rookies (Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, or Matt Duffy), a veteran pitcher such as Vogelsong or Tim Hudson, or one of the Brandons (Belt or Crawford).

Each postseason run for the Giants is a little different. In 2010, their postseason heroes were Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, and Aubrey Huff. In 2012, their postseason heroes were Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro, and Pablo Sandoval. In 2014, there hasn’t necessarily been one standout player.

Even though the Giants’ postseason runs in 2010, 2012, and 2014 have been different, they continue to use the same winning formula: defy the odds, trust in their experience, and play as a team.

The Giants have a long way to go, but if they keep playing with this mentality, the Giants could make another deep postseason run.