How Giants Can Learn Lessons From Three Surprise NL Playoff Teams

SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't hard to predict that the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Astros would make up the final four in the American League. The Dodgers needed an extra game, but they made good on their status as preseason favorites in the NL West. 

The rest of the remaining postseason field includes some surprises, though. The Brewers and the Braves upset much bigger spenders in their divisions. The Rockies bounced back from their NL West disappointment to stun the Cubs on Tuesday night. 

As the Giants aim to get back into the October mix, here are some things they can learn from three franchises that took different paths to the postseason: 

From the Brewers: Be ready for the right time to strike 

Christian Yelich would have been the perfect fit for the Giants. At 26, he's certain to be the National League's MVP, and he has the kind of approach that would have fit AT&T Park's gaps beautifully.

Alas, the Giants have had a weak farm system for years, and when the Marlins went into fire sale mode, the best the Giants could do was offer to take on Giancarlo Stanton's massive contract. Yelich was the much better fit, but the Giants couldn't put together an appropriate package.

They should be careful about continuing to trade away prospects, because at some point -- maybe next offseason, maybe in two years -- another Yelich type will become available, and this time the Giants should be ready with an appropriate offer. 

From the Braves: Go international 

Pablo Sandoval is the last real contributor developed by the Giants' international department. So yeah, it's been a while.

The Braves won the NL East behind Ronald Acuña Jr., a 20-year-old signed out of Venezuela in 2014, and Ozzie Albies, a 21-year-old signed out of Curacao in 2013. Sure, there were other reasons for their success, but these two young players changed the entire timeline of a rebuilding franchise.

The Giants are excited about Marco Luciano and others, but given their resources, there's no excuse for them not to be a perennial power on the international market. They've missed the boat for a decade. 

From the Rockies: Develop pitching 

The Giants know how to do this, or at least they used to.

The dynasty was built on homegrown starters, but they're going through quite the drought. Dereck Rodriguez will be in the rotation for years to come, but he was a free agent addition, not a Giants draft pick. Andrew Suarez is a former second-round pick, but after him, what do you have?

Chris Stratton isn't locked into the rotation, Tyler Beede was sent to the bullpen in Triple-A, Phil Bickford was traded and seems like a bust, and on and on. 

The Rockies, playing in the worst pitcher's park in the majors, groomed a Cy Young candidate in former first-rounder Kyle Freeland, the standout of the Wild Card Game. They traded for German Marquez two years ago and he looks like a budding star. Tyler Anderson, another first-rounder, was worth three WAR for the second time in three years. Antonio Senzetela, signed out of Venezuela, had a solid second season and is just 23.

This isn't a dominant group, but it's a pretty good one, and there's no way the Rockies should have more homegrown talent in their rotation than the Giants do. 

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