How Did the Giants Actually Do It?


07: 82 OPS+/ 107 ERA+ 71-91 5th place
08: 83 OPS+/ 102 ERA+ 72-90 4th place
09: 82 OPS+/ 121 ERA+ 88-74 3rd place
10: 95 OPS+/ 121 ERA+ 92-70 1st place, World Series Champs

They could see the pitching coming as soon as 07 -- Lincecum/Cain were a pair of aces and Jonathan Sanchez had potential as a complementary part. It wasn't rocket science to see the 120 ERA+ coming.

So how did the offense evolve?
Here are lists of all the guys who had at least 200 PA and at least 90 OPS+ for each year:

Barry Bonds 169
Randy Winn 104
Ryan Klesko 92

Ray Durham 109
Winn 105
Fred Lewis 105
Bengie Molina 98
Aaron Rowand 94
Rich Aurilia 93

Pablo Sandoval 144
Juan Uribe 112
Lewis 93
Rowand 92

Aubrey Huff 138
Pat Burrell 132
Buster Posey 129
Andres Torres 119
Uribe 99
Freddy Sanchez 98
Sandoval 95
Edgar Renteria 90


-- the complete turnover of the offense between 07 and 09
-- the exact same result from "superstar Bonds + mediocre old guys" in 07 and "no Bonds + more mediocre old guys" in 08
-- they did not add ONE player in 08 that ultimately affected their 10 roster. Not one. They were content to let Ray Durham and Randy Winn be their offensive leaders. Sandoval did come up at 21 and OPS+ 118 in 41 G.
-- after the 08 season, they added Renteria in a big-money deal and Uribe in a small-money deal, then they brought in Sanchez in the middle of a long-term contract at the 09 deadline.
-- Bochy came in as manager in 07 and was at the helm the entire period.

-- Then, in 10:

----- Posey comes up huge as a rookie
----- "scrap heap" guys Huff ($3M FA), Burrell, Torres and Ross (all essentially minimum salary) all turn in good years simultaneously
----- pitching was a brilliant as expected

This looks to me like exactly Sandy's lesson about not adding the restrictive big-money deals until after you know you've got a young core in place. They knew that Lincecum/Cain (with Jo. Sanchez and Wilson) were going to deliver if healthy. And that is when they started to add Renteria and F. Sanchez, and all the other smaller parts that paid off, like Uribe (09) and Huff (10).

So, Query:
Do the Ms need to suffer through another medicore offensive year in order to position themselves for 2012 and beyond?

Maybe not. But it is awfully clear that the Giants restraint in not signing guys to restrictive deals after Bonds was done, and letting the pitching develop with managerial stability in the meantime, paid off as handsomely as it gets.



Did you actually intend for this to be a two-word post? I'm guessing there was an article in the works and you accidentally posted this? :)

RockiesJeff's picture

Thanks Spec. Patience was a virtue that paid off. That all was a huge change from taking Zito and giving him a long term contract. They started to add piece by piece.
I give them credit from Colorado. At the beginning of the year it was supposed to be Dodgers verses the Rockies in the NL West with SF only marginal due to pitching. People can talk all they want about draft busts. In this case, the Giants rich farm system began paying out very good dividends.

SABR Mat Mobile's picture

...luckily it was at 2 am and no one noticed. :)
This is a nice post...the stkry I get out of this is that Bonds did nothing to legitimize their lineup and that their league average offense came from replacing 80s with 100s and not from adding big's not Posey.was a 150 megastud. They got enough offense without needing 30 her guys up and down the lineup


(what am I gonna say when I'm noted as being right?)
It's interesting to note that both of the offensive holdover "elite" from 2009 (Sandoval and Uribe) had horrible 2010 numbers RELATIVE to what they did in 2009. 
Two true home-grown youngsters - (Sandoval & Posey)
One miracle 'never-was' (Torres)
And 5 free agent scrap heap pick-ups.
Only two "big" FA contract, though - Rowand - ($13 million) - who didn't make the 90 OPS+ cut in 2010 - (he posted a 75).  And Renteria ($10 million) - who just cracked 90.
(Can't find what Burrell made, though)
One COULD argue that San Fran won despite sinking bucks into Roward and Renteria in '09.  Even with Burrell showing $0 - the club had a $98 million payroll for 2010 (per bbref).
Huff had managed a whopping 81 OPS+ in 2009.
Burrell (and his $9 million salary) were CUT by Tampa in May of 2010.
Torres had 8 years of AAA ball - but had a career year in 2008 at Iowa (.892 OPS).


Continue to enthuse about the Giants as a template for these M's.   One of your best insights Spec, which is sayin' a lot :- )
Without a doubt, when you are betting your chits on Smoak/Ackley/kids, you need to keep your powder dry for the time when those kids will be starring.
The advent of Smoak and Ackley is a new advent.  It changes the game.  If we had no MVP candidate types hitting the beaches, I'd say differently.  But now that you love your kids, it's time to plan around them.
I'd have less gusto for The Sandy Way if it were Matt Mangini and Mike Carp that we were betting on :- ) but he's used to those blue-chippers in Atlanta, and now we've got 'em too.
Question.  Suppose that you could deal Pineda, Saunders, and Grade B spects for Justin Upton.  Would he fit the now-and-later plan?
Spec?  Sandy?  Would you make that deal?


Upton's road woes make me VERY wary of him.  To me, he's an effective carbon copy of Lopez in terms of gross value in Safeco.  I think the odds extreme high that Safeco would clobber him badly.
Additionaly, Pineda, (who I am not as high on as Doc), is a guy I could see shining *ONLY* in a place like Safeco (plus the good dee behind him). 
Not saying I wouldn't consider a trade -- but the more I look at the "winning" builds, the more I note that it takes *THREE* never-weres to build around.  Don't have to all be home grown, but every build I can see that works - (NL or AL), was pulled off with a trio of guys who had NEVER produced a full season 100 OPS+ before reaching the team they won with.
When it costs $10 and $13 million to get guys like Rowand and Renteria, you simply CANNOT build a 9-man lineup of PRODUCTIVE free agents without $250 million payroll. 
I still say - plow through the scrap heap for the $3 million bargains UNTIL you've got at least 6 productive bats on board - THEN go out and spend big for "guaranteed" production.


I am also of the opinion that Upton is a dead man walking in a real major league and in a park that does not resemble a pinball machine on the moon...especially a park that more closely resmebles a molassas pie on Venus.


And I would probably give Pineda to get one (particularly since I am a fan of the college arms at the top of the draft -- though I know not everyone is).
But I'm not convinced that Upton is the right one, and I am pretty convinced that what the D-Backs expect is more than we ought to give up.
Kind of felt the same way about Bay. If he fell into our lap at a reasonable level, fine. But otherwise, I'm not against keeping the powder dry.


Bay was a bad choice for Seattle...I was on the wrong side of that debate. Sure enough, he went to a very Seattl-elike park in a weaker league and stunk up the bad would our situation be right now if we had signed Bay at those prices?
You do need to have some righties in the line-up...but they need to be Edgars...not flyball pull hitters.

Taro's picture

Upton spreads the ball though, hse not a pull hitter like Lopez. Granted, he would be a better fit if he was a lefty.
I'd definetly trade Pineda+ for him, but after seeing how this market is panning I don't think that would even remotely enough. We're going to start seeing prospects have less value in trades. Boston did really well to trade for A-Gone this early in the offseason.


Taro...I need a light bulb...perhaps you can help me out. Why would the value of prospects go DOWN when free agents cost MORE? I would think teams would hold onto their prospects if it got more expensive to acquire players outside your organization.

Taro's picture

When the market gets inflated its a sign that teams are rolling in dough. Prospects lose value because teams aren't pinching as much money and can afford more players from trades and FA. The risk of these prospects is evaluated more properly IMO (the bust factor is rediculously high for MLB specs).
I think the fact that Z got offers like Montero and Smoak for Cliff Lee last deadline might have been a sign of a rebounding market. In 09, I really doubt he gets that kind of action.
The value of young stars like Upton that are signed long-term to team-friendly deals goes through the roof. Felix just got that much more valuable, even though hes not under a significantly team-friendly deal. 


...what we can really say is that prospects are less valuable in this market only to the teams that have enough money to spend on free agents.  I would wager that they'd be MORE valuable to teams like Seattle, Pittsburgh, KC, San Diego...teams that are payroll limited.

Taro's picture

Thats also true IMO.
These kind of teams can take advantage of the market by trading proven MLBers for specs. Z just did it with Cliff Lee.
It does become harder for teams to pick up talent thats good enough to trade though. The trade for Cliff Lee probably doesn't happen anymore.


...or back TO contenders. You can't pick up a Cliff Lee from Philly anymore...they'll want to hold onto those types and acquire lots of prospects in exchange if they have to make a deal...and you can't trade a Cliff Lee back to the Yankees or Rangers...who can now afford to buy those players at the start of the year anyway, so there are fewer needs. We have to start beating up the other losers...that's the only way Z is going to win here...he's got to geather undervalued prospects from weaker organizations that have money to spend and are trying to get into contention.

Taro's picture

Ya, its come down to nabbing undervalued prospects and MLBers in trades and FA. Nishioka hurts in this regard (still recovering from that), but there a ton of other guys out there.
Z has been pretty good in the past.. I hope hes got some tricks up his sleeves.

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