A year ago, the San Francisco Giants were on Cloud 9—still basking in the glow of their first World Series championship title since moving west from New York in 1958.
But an ecstatic 2010 was replaced by a mostly painful 2011.
Let's take a look at the 10 biggest stories of the year and then let you, the reader, vote for the most memorable.
The Giants finished the 2011 season with a 43-2 record when they had three or more hits with runners in scoring position. The trouble is, the Giants had 114 games in which they had two or fewer hits with RISP. San Francisco's .219 batting average with RISP ranked dead last in the Majors.
By comparison, the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals led all teams with a .290 average and the league average was .255—nearly forty points higher than the Giants.
Things got so bad for the gentle Giants in 2011 that they cut outfielder Aaron Rowand in September, even though they still owe him $12 million next year.
After a slow start to the 2011 season (.257/.307/.364/0.671 OPS through the team’s first 36 games), Freddy Sanchez finally found his groove in May.
At the time Freddy went down, he had become the only reliable hitter in the Giants’ lineup, batting .333/.368/.444 (0.812 OPS) from May 14 to June 10—the day he suffered a dislocated shoulder that ended his season.
Not since 1966—when Tom Haller, Jim Hart, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry all went—have there been this many San Francisco Giants on an All-Star roster.
Giants skipper Bruce Bochy managed the midsummer classic in Phoenix with an NL roster that included Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson.
Pablo Sandoval missed 41 games due to a broken hamate bone in his right hand in late April.
If you were to take his offensive numbers and project 40 additional games onto them, you’d get a Kung Fu Panda that batted .315 with 31 HR and 94 RBI. Instead, the back of Sandoval’s 2011 baseball card will show just 23 HR and 70 RBI.
After weeks of speculation, the Giants finally acquired New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, who was batting .289/.391/.513 (0.904 OPS) with 15 HR, 66 RBI and a league-leading 30 doubles. They gave up top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in return.
A six-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time Silver Slugger winner, Beltran waived his no-trade clause to play for the defending World Champions.
Five months later, Beltran signed a two-year, $26 million free agent contract with the Cardinals.
After going four full seasons without throwing a major-league pitch, Ryan Vogelsong finished the 2011 season with a 2.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 139:61 K/BB ratio in 179.2 innings.
Two thugs in Los Angeles Dodgers apparel beat and critically injured Giants' fan Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day.
Last week, Stow spoke in public for the first time, appearing on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.
The full Top 10:
- Posey lost for the year
- Bryan Stow attack
- Vogey's Renaissance
- Giants trade for Beltran
- Panda breaks his hand
- Giants have five All Stars
- Freddy dislocates his shoulder
- Jonathan Sanchez is traded
- Wilson destroys a water cooler
- Giants lack run support
Here are some other stories that did not make my year-end Top 10:
- - Brian Wilson arrives at ESPYs in spandex tuxedo
- - Jeremy Affeldt slices hand trying to separate frozen hamburger patties
- - Sergio Romo puts together phenomenal season
- - Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada get the boot
- - Pat Burrell calls it quits
- - Showtime’s “The Franchise” makes its debut
- - Brian Wilson goes Black Ops in Taco Bell commercial
OK. Now, it’s your turn. What do you think was the number one Giants story of the year?
Comment below or vote at the poll.