2010 San Francisco Giants: World Champions
You know, I never thought I’d say it. Not in 2010, at least. Color me a skeptic, pessimist, what-have-you- I just didn’t see it happening in 2010. Why? Because the team didn’t have much going for it. We had a decent left fielder in Mark DeRosa, whom I expected to do reasonably well, Aaron Rowand in center (ugh), a relatively promising right field combination in John Bowker and Nate Schierholtz…an infield consisting of superstar and fan favorite Pablo Sandoval, the overwhelmingly “meh” Edgar Renteria at shortstop, the seemingly perenially-injured Freddy Sanchez at second, and the veteran designated hitter coming off a horrendous season in Aubrey Huff at first base. And of course, Bengie “Big Money” Molina was behind the plate.
Things really didn’t turn out the way I expected them to. DeRosa was gone for essentially the entire season with a wrist injury, Rowand lost the starting center-field job to Andres Torres, who became an offensive catalyst at the top of the order, and the right field situation never really settled, as the Giants put an excruciatingly short leach (more like a cilice) on Bowker, and Schierholtz never really settled in. The end of season outfield? Pat Burrell in left, Andres Torres in center, and Cody Ross in right. Talk about a drastic change. The infield situation was also a surprise, as Pablo Sandoval not only regressed to the mean, but he regressed to a player that resembled a Single-A hitter. Edgar Renteria battled through some injuries and utility infielder Juan Uribe stepped in and did a fantastic job manning the shortstop position (and third as well). Freddy Sanchez was injured as well, but put up a pretty respectable year at the plate and a solid year with the glove. Aubrey Huff hit like a machine, clobbering the ball to the tune of a .388 wOBA and provided solid defense at first. And, of course, Bengie Molina was dealt to the Texas Rangers, and Buster Posey hit like the second coming of Jesus.
The pitching staff remained more or less the same, and did exactly what we thought they would- dominate. I knew Todd Wellemeyer wouldn’t do all that well, but I never expected Madison Bumgarner to step up the way he did. The bullpen did a fine job too, and Brian Wilson really established himself as one of the game’s elite relievers. He also established himself as one of the game’s most eccentric relievers, but…that’s a whole other story.
Long story short: this team has been full of surprises, at least in some ways. The pitching was pretty much a given, but the offense was surprisingly pretty good. It really feels like we caught lightning in a bottle with this team- Andres Torres was essentially a Minor League journeyman who turned things around, Pat Burrell was grabbed from the waiver wire from the Tampa Bay Rays, and Aubrey Huff posted the best year of his career at 34 years young. Buster Posey didn’t just hit, he hit for more power than anyone expected.
This season, while an adventure (many prefer to use the term “torture”), was delightfully fun. Towards the end of the season I began to ease up on my cynicism and really began to enjoy the ride…and once we made it in to the playoffs, I knew we had a chance to win it all. I didn’t think they would do it, but they certainly did. As much as I hated their slogan- “it’s magic inside”- I really don’t think there’s a better way to put it.
I’ve lived and died with this team beginning in 2003. It feels like a lifetime to me, and I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like for the fans that have been following the Giants for decades. I’m just glad that I got a chance to see my team win at least once in my lifetime, and at 22 years of age, I hope I live long enough to see them win it all once again.