But manager Bruce Bochy, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean and general manager Bobby Evans (hey, three more reasons) haven't lost the Giants' recipe for success. Here are this year's ingredients as San Francisco gets set to begin the NLDS vs. the Cubs on Friday (9 p.m. ET/6 PT, FS1):
You knew this would be prominently mentioned. Pitching is the foundation of the Giants' success, and their current starting rotation is deeper than any the team has had since Bochy came aboard in 2007. In the first couple of World Series years, the Giants had two or three starters who were reliable in the postseason (Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in 2010; Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito in '12). Only Bumgarner could be truly counted on in 2014.
This year, the Giants are four deep, with Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija. Few teams can boast a contingent of starters that solid.
2. Offensive undercurrent
The Giants spent much of the season in a collective batting slump. When their lineup functioned properly, it was imposing. They accumulated 10 extra-base hits at Pittsburgh on June 21. They totaled four homers and four triples in an Aug. 28 game against Atlanta. They proved capable of prodigious individual feats, such as Brandon Crawford's seven-hit game on Aug. 8 at Miami.
Because of their pitching and defense, the Giants don't have to score bunches of runs to win. Four is usually enough. That relieves Crawford, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt and their brethren of extreme pressure to produce.
The Giants have 13 players on the active NLDS roster remaining from the 2014 club: Belt, Crawford, Pence, Posey, Bumgarner, George Kontos, Angel Pagan, Hunter Strickland, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Joe Panik and Gregor Blanco.
All but Panik and Strickland have won more than one World Series ring as Giants. That's a lot of experience, which is a quality that's invaluable at this time of year. It provides the toughness that enables players to persevere and the confidence to succeed.
"They just know how to do this," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Giants.