The baseball commentariat didn’t like the San Francisco Giants’ odds going into this year. Nor did it like them going into the stretch run, as they were behind the similar, but seemingly more talented, San Diego Padres in the NL West. Nor did it like them much going into the Division Series, the Championship Series or the World Series. Which surely makes the wins all the sweeter, and the triumph all the more deserved.
Just how much of a surprise is the Giants’ first championship since moving to San Francisco? Putting a number on this isn’t actually as hard as one might think. There are three factors that make a team a surprise, or none at all: The actual strength of the team, its star power and its position going into the stretch run. A fundamentally mediocre team with few stars and a low payroll that enters the late season in a tight race will, if it wins the Series, stun everyone. A terrific team with lots of pricey veterans that leads the race all year will not.