SAN FRANCISCO -- Many observers would point to the calendar to explain what makes the Giants a legitimate threat to win the World Series. After all, this is an even-numbered year, and San Francisco captured the Fall Classic in 2010 and 2012. But it'll take more than just coincidence for the Giants to emerge from the postseason with baseball's ultimate prize. Here's how it could happen:
Mind your P's: Big-time players rise to the occasion at ... well, big times. The Giants have several hitters who fit this profile and just happen to be easy to track down alphabetically: Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Joe Panik and the Kung Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval). If all of them can get reasonably hot at the same time, generating offense could prove to be relatively easy for the Giants.
He's no Bum: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner appears poised to emerge as one of the game's top pitchers. He already has excelled in two World Series starts, working 15 shutout innings while yielding five hits and striking out 14. He can pitch to contact when he needs to and get a strikeout if one is necessary. Performing under pressure doesn't faze him. And he's only 25.
Bulldog bullpen: The Giants don't have an overpowering group of relievers, but it's a contingent that throws strikes, which is of utmost importance in October. Santiago Casilla or Sergio Romo can close if necessary, and left-handers Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez give the bullpen righty-lefty balance.
Experience counts: The Giants know what it takes to reach the World Series, and they certainly know what to do when they get there. Depending on who's on the postseason roster, the Giants could have as many as 16 players from one or both of their recent World Series conquests at their disposal. And that doesn't count veteran right-handers Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy, who know a thing or two about handling the spotlight.
Cool in the hot seat: All that talk about manager Bruce Bochy someday reaching the Hall of Fame is legitimate. Bochy consistently elicits maximum production from his players, whether he's dealing with a sub-.500 club or gifted with a champion. During games, he never gets caught by surprise, and he maintains a knack (along with pitching coach Dave Righetti) for handling his pitching staff. Players know that Bochy won't be outmanaged, which enhances their respect.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.