On Sunday night, a mile from my house, people turned over cars and lit buses on fire. In a way, it was fitting: had the Oakland A's or Boston Red Sox won the World Series, it would have been a triumph of numbers; had the Minnesota Twins or Atlanta Braves won it, gut instincts would have been the big winners; but what did the San Francisco Giants winning their 2nd World Series in three years represent other than an Act of God?
I spent much of the last decade dealing with the front offices of pro sports teams and so I focus on process instead of results (which, much to the chagrin of sports fans everywhere, are heavily-driven by luck.) And I can't think of a team that's had better results with as bad a process as the Giants have. A couple of examples, which I hope aren't too obscure for those who don't follow baseball statistics too closely:
1) Giants GM Brian Sabean is supposedly an expert at drafting pitchers (never mind that he tried to give away the Lincecum pick but MLB rules prevented him from doing so.) But this season, he paid $80M to his pitching staff, and if you look at Baseball-Reference, they produced just 5.5 wins (above replacement). According to Baseball Prospectus, their pitching staff was 23rd in the league and put up just 2.4 wins (above replacement). In spending efficiency, they were basically dead last.
2) If you're not getting performance from your pitching staff, then you're getting it from hitting. The Giants got 28 wins out of their hitters and paid just $30M for it - that's roughly 15 times as efficient as their pitching staff. All this even though their two highest-paid players, accounting for half of that $30M, went a combined 1-for-10 in the playoffs, and even though Ryan Theriot and Manny Burriss stayed in the lineup despite being giant offensive sinkholes.
Ultimately, the Giants won because they got ridiculous contributions from Melky "Steroids" Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Brandon Crawford, Marco Scutaro and even Gregor Blanco, who combined to exceed their preseason projections by 13 wins. And even then, they were still the 8th-best playoff team by run differential.
Bottom line: just as in 2010, Brian Sabean had no idea his team was good enough to win the World Series. He certainly didn't build it to be that good. But everything broke exactly in his favor and here we are. A just deity would have punished San Francisco's fairweather baseball fans in exactly the same way that she punished its football fans earlier this year.