Castoff(s) to Victory

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Pitching wins in the postseason, goes the saying. Actually
pitching wins all year because a brilliant pitcher can be unhittable whereas a
brilliant hitter can still be got out.


The San Francisco Giants have a young rotation of four
homegrown stars: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison
Bumgarner. They figure on being around for a number of years as the club has
control over all of them for the next three.


The Giants, lest we forget, also have one of the richest
free agent pitchers in history – Barry Zito, on an average of $18m per year
during his contract and yet left off the postseason roster. Not because he has
been terrible this season, but because he has been merely adequate while the
rest of the rotation has been virtually lights-out since the All Star break.


However, while it is true that pitching is critically
important, no team ever won a game 0-0, so someone, somewhere, at some point,
needed to get a hit, and that’s where this World Series went strange.


Texas’ lineup is full of excellent hitters, and with a
stellar rotation headed by Cliff Lee, the prevailing wisdom was that they would
get sufficient hitting to get by the Giants’ toothless offense. In fact, if you
were told before the Series began that the first two games would finish 11-7
and 9-0, you could have felt confident that meant the Rangers were taking a two
game lead in the series; after all, the Giants hadn’t scored more than 6 runs
in any of their previous 10 postseason games. It had taken them 10 games to get
past Atlanta and Philadelphia, and they had averaged precisely 3 runs a game in
doing so.


However, the Texas offense was totally shut down, in a way
that brought a small measure of comfort to Phillies fans still suffering
recurring nightmares of Ryan Howard taking a called third strike to end the


The Rangers hit a combined .196 during the series, with key
sluggers Josh Hamilton (.100) and Vladimir Guerrero (.071) the most toothless
of a gummy crew. In fact the only hitter returning respectable figures was 1B
Mitch Moreland who went 6 for 13, but with no-one on base in front of him and
no-one driving him in his efforts had little impact outside of a single home


So which hitters won it for the Giants?


It wasn’t key midseason pickup Pat Burrell, who carried the team through much of August and
September but had a truly awful World Series, going hitless in 13 at-bats.


But it was pretty much everybody else:


Juan Uribe has
never been any good, but has somehow been in the major leagues since 2000 and
won a World Series with the White Sox in 2005. In this World Series he was
awesome – his fielding at 3B in place of the hopelessly overweight and
ineffective Pablo Sandoval was stunning, with a speed of movement and accuracy
of throwing and Gold Glover would have been proud of. And whilst he didn’t
dominate with the bat, he had a key three-run home run in game 1 that set the


Edgar Renteria
used to be good, but not for three years as his range diminished and his eye at
the plate deserted him. However he was the Series MVP, with 2 home runs, 6
RBI’s, a key role in the game 2 win and the series-winning home run in game 6.


Cody Ross. When
you get waived by the Florida Marlins you know your job as a big leaguer is on
the line. His career has featured a great deal of not a great deal, but after
single-handedly dismissing the Phillies in the NLCS (3 home runs, 5 RBI’s), he
was an on-base machine in the World Series (.381), in addition to finding another
low-and-inside fastball to hit out the park in game 3.


Aubrey Huff
played out his prime years in the cellar of the AL East with Tampa Bay and then
Baltimore, but suffered through 2 down years before securing a job with the
Giants and a return to form. He batted .294 in the World Series.


Freddy Sanchez is
also past his best, and has likewise spent his career looking up in the
standings, as he spent the better part of 5 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.


Andres Torres
hadn’t been able to hold down a major league job until he hit 30 and just about
justified a salary with the Giants this season. Then, after looking out of his
depth against Atlanta in the Division Series, he went .333 the rest of the way
and was a constant threat on the base paths with his speed.


Buster Posey, the
youngest starting catcher ever to win a World Series, is a “professional
hitter” – a phrase that means whilst he’ll likely never lead the league in more
runs, he has a great average, he gets on base, and he thrives in pressure
situations. He hit .300 in the World Series.


The Giants drafted Posey and they traded for Sanchez; both
were key pieces for the club. However, the other 6 of the Giants’ starting
lineup could have been had before or during this season by any other major club
without having to break the bank.


They were cheap, they were available, and nobody wanted


Castoffs to a man, they have just been crowned World
Champions, having outhit and outfielded the much-fancied Texas Rangers.


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