The San Francisco Giants are the reigning World Series Champions. The Houston Astros are building a roster capable of, or with the view to, winning a World Series Championship. So, let's compare the two teams. Are the Astros of 2015 better than the Giants team that went all the way? Probably. Will the Astros, therefore, go all the way? Probably not.
The Giants were fueled by pitching en route to winning their third World Series in five years. Madison Bumgarner had a great campaign, posting a 2.98 ERA with over 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts, and an outstanding postseason. Tim Hudson had a huge bounce back season, despite his lacklustre second half.
Tim Lincecum was Tim Lincecum. He showed flashes of brilliance, including no-hitting the Padres, and flashes of minor-league calibre starts. Jake Peavy, when he arrived from Boston, was incredible. And, Ryan Vogelsong embodied solidarity at the back of the rotation.
I'd take Bumgarner over Keuchel any day, but Keuchel is still a great pitcher to build around. Collin McHugh is one of the most underrated starters in the game. I'm going to go ahead and say the Astros' one-two punch is better than the one-two punch the Giants started the season with -- Bumgarner and Matt Cain. There is plenty of promise surrounding Brett Oberholtzer, who posted a FIP of 3.56 last season, and his return.
Roberto Hernandez gets lots of ground balls and ground balls are very good. Scott Feldman is good, but he isn't second in the rotation good. When Mark Appel comes onto the scene, the Astros rotation will be much better than the one that led the Giants to the World Series.
The Giants bullpen was their biggest strength last season. The Astros bullpen was their biggest weakness last season.
With a combination of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt at the back of the bullpen, the Giants' bullpen was great. Jean Machi was also a solid contributor. Yusmeiro Petit was one of the best relievers in the game last season, if you ask me. As a swingman, he was simply incredible.
While the Astros bullpen was the worst in baseball last season, it has improved a lot. The additions of Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek have gone a long way to improve it. Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp will undeniably be much better this season. Joe Thatcher was a solid addition. Will Harris -- and maybe Josh Fields if he appears, at some stage -- will develop into solid relievers, too. Samuel Deduno is a serviceable swingman. The Astros bullpen should be good this season and in the future, but it won't likely be San Francisco good.
The Astros look set to hit a lot of homeruns. The Giants might well hit the fewest. Looking at the bigger picture and the Astros still have a better offense.
They may not have Buster Posey, the Giants' franchise player, but they, overall, are better. I'd, even as a Giants fan, would take George Springer, Chris Carter, Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus and so on, over the likes of Posey, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt. It's marginally better, currently. With the likes of Carlos Correa, the Astros' top prospect, knocking on the door, it may well be much better next season.
Much better than the lineup which won the World Series.
The Giants were far from being the best team in baseball. However, they were worthy of playing postseason ball. And, as we all know, once you make it into October the rest is a crapshoot. Next season the Astros should be in that crapshoot. Maybe, Keuchel will produce a Bumgarner-esque postseason or Springer will produce a Posey-esque campaign. Either way, let's just hope that crapshoot goes our way, if we are watching Houston in October.