San Francisco's pitchers looked like giants
All those who picked the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series before the post-season began, put up your hand.
Right. And you've probably got the Argos winning the Grey Cup in Edmonton later this month, too.
Of the eight teams to reach the baseball playoffs, the Giants had the longest odds, 18 to 1, to win for the first time since 1954 when they operated out of the Polo Grounds as the New York Giants.
In late August, when they trailed the San Diego Padres by 6½ games, they were long shots to even qualify for the playoffs. It took a shutout in San Diego on the final day of the regular season to give them the National League West top spot.
They slipped past the Atlanta Braves in four games and shocked the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies in six. That produced a final showdown of the Giants, having the best earned run average in baseball (3.36) against the Texas Rangers, baseball's top hitting team (.276 average).
Pitching stops hitting
The old adage good pitching stops good hitting was about to be proven yet again.
If you were building a Major League team from scratch, consider which players from the Giants' starting line-up you'd select.
Catcher Buster Posey, for sure. Mature well beyond his 23 years, the Giants' first round draft pick from 2008 (5th overall) was the team's leading hitter (.305) after coming up from Triple A Fresno on May 29. And he throws like Johnny Bench.
Maybe Aubrey Huff, 32, especially if you had an American League club and wanted him as the designated hitter. He played outfield and first base for the Giants after earlier 30-plus homer seasons with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
Huff signed a one-year contract to play in Marin County and led the Giants in the regular season with 26 homers, 86 RBI.
He didn't do too badly in the playoffs, either, with his Game 4 World Series two-run homer deep into right field providing San Fran with all the runs they'd need in a 4-0 victory that brought them to within one of clinching the title.
A call to arms
But realistically, most of the keepers from the Giants' roster would come from the pitching ranks that turned in a 2.47 earned run average en route to the World Series crown.
They have a pretty nice foursome of starters, all home grown and developed in the Giants' system.
Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner equaled a World Series record with four shutouts in their 15 post-season games. All, save Sanchez, were first-round draft picks.
Lincecum, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, had a 14-strikeout game in his playoff debut and finished off the Rangers with eight innings of three-hit ball, allowing only a Nelson Cruz solo home run.
Lincecum, the Freak, is only 26, the same age as Matt Cain who stopped the Rangers on four hits, no runs over 7.2 innings and didn't allow an earned run in 21.1 innings of the playoffs.
Jonathan Sanchez, who turns 28 later this month, won that clinching game over the Padres and had a 13-9 record with a 3.07 earned run average in his third full season with the Giants. He also had an 11-strikeout two-hit no decision in the Divisional Series against the Braves.
Fear the beard
Madison Bumgarner turned 21 in August. In 18 regular season starts, he was 7-6 and tossed an eight-inning 3-hitter at the Rangers in the Game 4 shutout.
And we'll close our shopping spree with Brian "Fear the Beard" Wilson, the New England native who brings back visions of former Expos' closer Jeff Reardon.
If you didn't know much about Wilson after 134 regular season saves the past three years in San Francisco, he picked up six more saves in 10 post-season appearances without allowing an earned run.
Some media members called the Giants a collection of misfits and aging players, with more castoffs than Gilligan's Island.
Now 2010 World Series champions, the Giants have a strong core of talent that revolves around their pitching.
And pitching wins every time.