A rare bastion of Major League Baseball stability, the San Francisco Giants will apply their formula of strong pitching, solid defense and an attack built for their home park in a bid to claim a third World Series title in four years.
Assembled by Brian Sabean and steered by Bruce Bochy, the longest running general manager/manager partnership in the National League, the Giants have kept their cast intact.
Matt Cain heads a starting rotation that includes Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito and Lincecum, who hopes to rebound from a disappointing season. Sergio Romo serves as the closer at the back end of a deep bullpen.
The jewel of the Giants' offense remains catcher Buster Posey, who besides manning one of the most difficult positions on the diamond, is San Francisco's best hitter and has the National League Most Valuable Player trophy to prove it.
Posey, who turns 26 on Wednesday, led the league in batting at .336, hit 24 home runs and had 103 runs batted in.
While other teams, notably their NL West arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers, used the free agent market to beef up, the Giants focused on retaining key contributors.
They signed second baseman Marco Scutaro, who batted .362 down the stretch last season and was a postseason hero after coming from the Rockies in a low-key trade, to a three-year deal for $20 million.
Center-fielder Angel Pagan was given four years and $40 million, and lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt stayed on for three years and $18 million.
Gone is outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended by MLB for 50 games for a doping violation and was not reinstated by the Giants.
Continuity has been critical to the Giants, who have turned the picturesque AT&T Park that sits by San Francisco Bay into a baseball haven with an atmosphere and success rate that is the envy of others.
"The Giants are a superbly run organization from top to bottom," said Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who has built his team into a strong pennant contender.
"Sabean is one of the best GMs in baseball. They have a continuity and consistency of personnel, not only in the front office but at the major league level, in the minor leagues and the scouting level."
Sabean, the longest tenured general manager in MLB entering his 17th year, believes the success lies in developing your own players and this Giants crew bears that out.
Posey, World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval (third base), Brandon Crawford (shortstop), Brandon Belt (first base) and pitchers Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum and Romo are all homegrown talent.
Other key veteran pickups, including Pagan, Vogelson and Scutaro, came relatively inexpensively in trades.
Manager Bochy, entering his seventh season at the helm, is hoping for a comeback from Lincecum, who he pulled from the rotation and used in long relief at the end of last season as his earned run average soared and his fastball slowed.
Lincecum, the 2008 Cy Young winner, hopes a new conditioning regimen will help him regain his old form.
The home ballpark favors pitchers, with deep dimensions in the outfield gaps, and the Giants have placed a premium on speedy outfielders who can patrol the wide open spaces.
Over the years the Giants had power hitters help them find success including Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey in the 1950s and '60s, and Barry Bonds, who helped lift them into the 2002 World Series.
This Giants team functions differently.
San Francisco had only three players with double digit home runs in 2012 and were last in the majors with 99 roundtrippers.
Yet despite their collection of contact hitters, San Francisco ranked sixth in the league in runs scored.
The Giants may go deep more often this season, getting a full campaign from right-fielder Hunter Pence, acquired last season in a trade with Philadelphia, and the continued development of young first baseman Belt.
Belt, 24, started heating up for the season opener against the Dodgers by belting a pair of spring training homers against Colorado.
"It's the time of year when it's getting close to Opening Day and you want to try and stay as locked in as possible," Belt said. "I'm seeing the ball well right now and feeling pretty good. I'm ready to get started."