The Giants might end up less dependent on their pitching this season, a more balanced team. That would make their third world title in five years a bit more likely.The 2012 team was more balanced than the 2010 team. The 2010 team allowed 3.60 runs per game, second only to San Diego's 3.59, but the Giants rated a 117 ERA+, best in the game. The 2009 club ruled the charts as well, finishing first in runs allowed and ERA+. That kind of dominance doesn't need much help, and unfortunately that's what they got: their 4.06 runs scored per game was the 5th worst, and their 82 OPS+ was dead last. Offensively the 2010 team was just a tick below average (4.30 to 4.38 rpg), but flashed a bit of power (162 HR, 10th) to make up for it. Their 98 OPS+ rated 14th. It was enough, as we saw.
In 2012, the pitching was good but not great (4.01 rpg, 8th, and a shocking 20th--96--in ERA+), but had the depth, experience, and star power to compensate. The offense, despite a lack of home runs, was 4th in baseball in OPS+ at 106, and 12th overall at 4.43 rpg, well above average (4.32). The Giants were the best road offense in the game after the All-Star Break. That team relied on putting the ball in play, good baserunning, and productive outs. I thought of it as a "death by a thousand paper cuts" offense, and it sure worked. They got big performances as well in the post season from the entire staff, best exemplified by 2010 über-ace Tim Lincecum finding his mojo in relief.
I think the 2014 team will pitch more like the 2010 team but without the league-leading dominance. There are a lot of clutch guys who can take the ball, and some studs waiting in the wings as well. I think the 2014 team will hit like the 2012 team but have more pop. In short, I think we will see a well-balanced club. The Dodgers are the front-runners, and the consensus pick in the West, but the Giant have two things in their favor. One is team defense. I think we will see better fielding in San Francisco than in LA. That can make a difference--at least a couple of wins--over the long haul of 162 games. The other is the manager. Bruce Bochy is probably worth at least a half a win and perhaps even one win per month over the average manager. One projection has the Giants at 85 wins and the Dodgers at 91, and if six games is all the team needs to make up, I think we should feel pretty good.