What did we learn from the San Francisco Giants' second World Series title in three seasons? Just that no one knows anything, as the old Hollywood maxim goes.
The Giants were a solid team throughout the 2012 regular season. They won 94 games -- enough to take the National League West title easily -- and were just a handful of games behind the NL East champion Nationals and the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds. Even the Atlanta Braves, the first wild-card team, finished with the same 94-68 record. The St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) were six games worse than San Francisco and yet were still up 3-1 over them in the NL Championship Series and probably should have won the series.
Parity rules in major league baseball now, and there just isn't much difference between these teams once the playoffs start. If closer Drew Storen holds on to a two-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis, then maybe it is the Nats who are celebrating a title. So much of postseason baseball is based on matchups. And Washington, which found that out in its crushing loss to the Cardinals, won five of six games against the Giants during the regular season and scored six runs or more against them four times.
Only four big league clubs have won even 98 games since 2006, including this year's Nats. The key? Pitching depth. Having an ace like Detroit's Justin Verlander is great. But it's just too much to ask one player to carry you to a championship for a month. If he loses -- as Verlander did in Game 1 of the World Series -- there must be two or three others to pick up the slack. That's exactly what the Giants received.
- Brian McNally