Tracy Ringolsby

Blue-collar Giants winning with continuity

Blue-collar Giants winning with continuity

The Giants are a tribute to blue-collar ideals. They are built on old-school work ethic, continuity and the right pieces in the right places.

Looking for their third World Series championship in five seasons, the Giants open the World Series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, first pitch at 8:07) with a roster built off past success. The 25-man roster will include nine players who took part in the Giants' championship celebration in 2010, and that doesn't include Matt Cain, who is traveling with the team but on the disabled list following August elbow surgery.

Big deal? Real big. That's a larger group of holdovers than any of the seven other teams that took part in the 2010 postseason. And there are still 16 Giants around from that 2012 World Series championship team, including the injured Cain and center fielder Angel Pagan -- more than any of the other seven teams that appeared in the postseason that year.

  Date     Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 21     SF 7, KC 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 22     KC 7, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 24     KC 3, SF 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 25     SF 11, KC 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 26     SF 5, KC 0 video
Gm 6 Oct. 28     KC 10, SF 0 video
Gm 7 Oct. 29     SF 3, KC 2 video

"We've felt it is important to keep our core together, and our ownership has been very good in allowing us to do that," said senior vice president and general manager Brian Sabean.

The Royals, meanwhile, are in the postseason as a franchise for the first time in 29 years, and only three members of the American League Championship Series roster had previous postseason experience. Starting pitcher James Shields (2008, '10 and '11) and reliever Wade Davis ('10-11) were with the Rays, and second baseman Omar Infante appeared with the Tigers ('06, '12 and '13) and the Braves ('10).

The Giants did rank seventh in the Majors with an Opening Day payroll of $154 million, but it's not all about money. None of the 11 other teams among the top 12 in payroll were around for the League Championship Series.

The decision-making that went into keeping the group together was far more important than the money spent.

"We were probably ahead of the curve in terms of pitching and defense," said Sabean.

It shows on the current roster. Among the 10 players who were a part of the 2010 World Series roster are pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and the injured Cain -- and Ryan Vogelsong was a part of the rotation in 2012.

The holdovers from 2010 also include catcher Buster Posey and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, plus left fielder Travis Ishikawa, who returned this year after a two-year absence from the organization. Rookie second baseman Joe Panik is the only new face in the postseason starting lineup. First baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford, center fielder Gregor Blanco and right fielder Hunter Pence were all a part of the '12 championship team.

"The experience does help a lot," said Affeldt. "We turn the page. We don't live in the past, but sometimes we can fall back on our experience. And one of those experiences gives us a high trust for what we can do [in the postseason.]"

It is the past experience that gave the Giants a chance to "start over" in the postseason. This is a team that showed signs of running away with the National League West. They had a 10-game lead after the games of June 8. However, they struggled after that and not only finished six games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, but they wound up second in the NL Wild Card standings, which meant they had to play at Pittsburgh in the NL Wild Card Game.

They handled that. With Bumgarner on the mound, the Giants beat the Pirates, 8-0. San Francisco then needed only four games to knock off the Nationals in the NL Division Series and five games to eliminate the Cardinals in the NLCS.

"These guys are battle-tested and know how to handle themselves on this type of stage," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Add to that the kids we brought and the way the veteran players help them slow the game down a bit. The experience factor can't be overlooked."

The roles do change. Bumgarner, Posey and Sandoval were the "kids" on the 2010 team. Posey and Sandoval were the only members of the 2010 World Series starting lineup younger than 30. Bumgarner, then a 20-year-old rookie, was five years younger than any other member of the pitching staff.

Now? Bumgarner was voted as the NLCS MVP Award winner. Posey and Sandoval are the heart of the order, hitting third and fourth.

"You don't necessarily need to have [roster stability], but it certainly doesn't hurt to have it," said Bumgarner. "We've got a long list of guys who have been through this, and they are not afraid of the moment.

"The young guys we have see that and feed off that. They know they don't have to be afraid either. I really like the group we have here. It's going to be a fun series against Kansas City."

Bumgarner said that with confidence. He has, after all, been here before.

He knows what it's like.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.