San Francisco Giants: 5 Key Reasons They're the 2012 World Series Champions
The San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers to win their second World Series championship in three years. The Giants fought through six elimination games in the NL playoffs to get to the World Series.
The Giants then surprised the Detroit Tigers by sweeping them in four straight games. The vast majority of so-called experts had picked the Tigers to win and must now give the Giants the respect they so richly deserve.
The World Series win culminates a season where the Giants had to overcome a tremendous amount of adversity all year. The Giants lost closer Brian Wilson for the year, after only two outings. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez missed the entire season.
Pablo Sandoval had hand surgery and missed several weeks, then returned, only to injure a hamstring and go on the DL for a second time.
Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum struggled through a very disappointing regular season, losing a team-high 15 games. Then, Melky Cabrera, the All -Star MVP, was suspended in August for PEDs.
Through it all, the Giants held it together. It seemed that every bit of adversity placed in front of this team made them stronger and gave them even greater resolve.
The Giants shocked the baseball world with the dominance they exhibited against the Tigers. Let's take a closer look at five key reasons the Giants were able to sweep the Tigers and win the World Series.
5. Pablo Sandoval
World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval
In 2010, when the Giants won their first world championship in San Francisco, Pablo Sandoval played very little in the World Series. He had lost his starting job and was on the bench for all but one game.
Fast forward to 2012, and now Sandoval is the World Series MVP. Sandoval set the tone for the series when he blasted two home runs off the Tigers' ace, Justin Verlander. Then, Sandoval went on to hit an epic third home run, which propelled the Giants to an 8-3 victory in Game 1.
Only Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth (twice) have ever hit three home runs in a World Series game. Now Sandoval joins those legends.
For the series, Sandoval went 8-16, for a .500 batting average. He hit three home runs, had four RBI and scored three runs. Throughout the series, the Panda also played stellar defense.
Sandoval sent a jolt through the Tigers and knocked them off their self-proclaimed pedestal. I won't say that Sandoval's blasts off Verlander broke the Tigers' confidence, but it definitely shook them up.
4. Outstanding Defense
Gregor Blanco made several outstanding plays in the field
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The San Francisco Giants' defense made a huge difference in the World Series. Throughout the series, the Giants made play after play to squelch potential Detroit rallies.
To a man, the Giants played excellent defense, and this was a big advantage over the Tigers.
Some of the highlights included Gregor Blanco, who led the way with two great diving catches, several fine running catches and a great throw to relay-man Marco Scutaro in a play that cut down Prince Fielder at the plate in Game 2.
Brandon Crawford made some outstanding plays at shortstop and combined with Marco Scutaro on several key double plays.
Buster Posey did a great job behind the plate and also made a key double play on a chop in front of home plate, off the bat of Delmon Young.
Defense is an often overlooked part of the game, but the Giants' defense definitely gave them a big edge in this series.
3. Great Relief Pitching
Sergio Romo saved three games in the World Series
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The San Francisco Giants' relief corps stepped to the forefront in the World Series and dominated the vaunted Detroit offense. The Giants' relievers were far more solid than the Tigers' in this series.
The "big four" of Tim Lincecum, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo combined for 11 innings of work, allowed not a single hit and no runs. These four core relievers struck out 17 batters and walked only two.
So outstanding were these four that left-handed specialist Javier Lopez did not even pitch in the series.
The Giants were given a huge boost when Tim Lincecum agreed and even embraced his bullpen role. This gave manager Bruce Bochy a "secret weapon," as Lincecum could come into a game and pitch multiple innings.
Lincecum's contribution proved invaluable, as he threw 2.1 innings in two games and shut down the Tigers. Teams do not have two-time Cy Young award winners pitching out of the bullpen.
Romo was also extremely impressive, as he closed out three of the victories. He ended the series with a strikeout of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, as he threw a fastball down the middle and caught Cabrera looking. Romo totally fooled Cabrera, who was leaning out over the plate, looking for Romo's devastating slider.
2. Tremendous Starting Pitching
Barry Zito set the tone by winning Game 1
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The Detroit Tigers had the luxury of setting up their starting rotation exactly as they wanted to. The national media had stressed how strong the Detroit starting rotation was and how they would dominate the Giants.
However, it was the Giants' starting rotation that dominated. Barry Zito out-pitched Justin Verlander in the first game of the series, as he kept the opposing hitters off balance throughout the game. Zito, who was left off the postseason roster in 2010, was a key member of this great postseason run.
In Game 2, Madison Bumgarner, who came into the game with a postseason ERA over 11, shut down the Tigers with seven scoreless innings. Ryan Vogelsong followed that up by holding Detroit scoreless for another 5.2 innings in Game 3.
The Giant pitchers shut out the high powered Detroit offense in back-to-back games. In the entire 162-game season and postseason, prior to these two games, the Tigers had only been shut out twice.
Matt Cain followed it up with a solid effort, giving the Giants a chance to win in Game 4. He threw seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits.
In the four games, the Giants' starters combined for 25.1 innings of work, allowing 18 hits, four earned runs, nine walks and 19 strikeouts. The Giants' pitchers out-dueled the Tigers' staff and made the difference in this series.
1. The Giants Won It All as a True Team
This was a true team victory for the Giants
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The San Francisco Giants were the epitome of a true team. They rallied around each other for a common cause, and each player was unselfish and focused on the good of the team.
We saw this team concept throughout the season, in each round of the playoffs and again in the World Series. The Giant players genuinely liked each other, and their outstanding team chemistry showed through.
Whether it was rousing speeches by Hunter Pence or just each player genuinely playing for each other, this was a team in the truest sense of the concept.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants
Bruce Bochy has led the Giants to two world champinships
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The San Francisco Giants have now won two World Series titles in three years. In each of their championship runs, they were the supposed underdog, yet somehow got the job done.
The constant through it all, and team leader, is manager Bruce Bochy. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for holding the team together through all of the adversity the Giants faced in 2012.
Bochy had the buy-in of each player on the team, and they played unselfishly, to the best of their ability. Bochy's steady leadership never allowed the Giants to get flustered, and his calm demeanor was exactly what allowed his players to relax and play their game.
Congratulations to the entire Giants organization on a wonderful championship season.