Before the San Francisco Giants started winning World Series rings in 2010, I was long suspicious of the importance of team chemistry. My feeling was that performance by the players on the field had more to do with winning than how well the players got along together in the locker room. Players didn’t have to be friends, so long as they weren’t actively at each other’s throats — in other words, team chemistry is mainly an issue when it was so bad that it interfered with the players’ ability to perform on the field.
The success of the 2010 through 2014 Giants has me re-thinking my position on this issue. The organization and the Giants players very clearly believe that chemistry is important to their recent success. In fact, on paper the 2010-2014 Giants don’t look any better than the 1997-2004 Giants. The recent Giants had more pitching, but the Barry Bonds/Jeff Kent Giants had more hitting.
What teams do in the post-season is something of a matter of luck, because anything can happen in a short series. Even so, after three World Series championships in five seasons, its hard to argue that the current Giants aren’t the better the better team because of their greater post-season success.
Today I read a piece written by Giants third-sacker Matt Duffy, in which Duffy writes about how welcoming and helpful the team’s players were when he first came up last season. Duffy suggests that this “San Francisco Giants’ way” has been one of the reasons that young players brought up by the Giants have been so successful so quickly upon reaching the major leagues in recent years.
If the players think that clubhouse chemistry is part of the reason for their success, you have to give that a certain amount of credence. Players will develop better in an atmosphere that inspires self-confidence, preparation and professionalism. Needless to say, drafting and trading for talent is just as important. However, it’s no secret that some teams are better at developing young talent than others and finding diamonds in the rough like Matt Duffy. Right now the Giants and the Cardinals seem to be doing it about as well as anyone.