The 2021 MLB season wasn't supposed to be the Giants' year to contend for a playoff spot.
Every pundit and expert pegged the Giants to return to contention in 2022, at the earliest, but more likely, 2023, when the contracts of veterans had expired and the next wave of prospects had arrived.
This Giants squad clearly didn't get that memo, because entering the second game of the Bay Bridge Series against the Athletics on Saturday, San Francisco owned the best record in MLB (49-26).
The NL West was expected to be a two-team race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Instead, the Giants had a 4 1/2 game lead over both teams entering Saturday.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has turned the Giants around in three short years after coming over from the Dodgers.
But before his stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Zaidi was a member of the A's front office with current Oakland general manager David Forst.
No one knows how good Zaidi is at his job more than Forst.
"Well, I don't see it as a surprise at all," Forst told NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil when asked if he was surprised by the Giants' success this season. "We certainly know what Farhan is capable of doing and know how much work he has done since he got over there to put that team together. They've got a great pitching staff and they've ridden their starting pitchers to the best record in the league and deserve a lot of credit for putting that team together."
The Giants' pitching staff entered Saturday with a 3.18 ERA, third in the big leagues behind the Padres (3.11) and the New York Mets (3.06).
The starting pitchers, led by NL Cy Young Award candidate Kevin Gausman, have a 3.08 ERA, again, good for third in baseball. The bullpen has a cumulative 3.32 ERA, which is fifth among all relief corps in MLB.
After signing a qualifying offer with the Giants in the offseason, Gausman is having a career year. In 96 2/3 innings over 15 starts, he has 112 strikeouts and a 1.49 ERA, which is second in MLB behind only Jacob deGrom's unbelievable 0.69 ERA.
Not only has the pitching staff been top-notch, but the Giants' offense has been one of the best in baseball, led by resurgent seasons from Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey. San Francisco entered Saturday with an MLB-leading 112 homers.
In addition to the success at the big league level, Zaidi has built up a strong minor league system, so the Giants should be able to sustain this momentum for a few years. And if they do, Forst certainly won't be surprised at all.