Carlos Ruiz and the 10 Most Unlikely World Series Heroes of All Time
The 2012 season is officially over, and the San Francisco Giants are World Series champions for the second time in three seasons. It wasn't easy. The road was full of obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome at times.
But that's what's great about this sport. The month of October brings out a different animal in baseball players. It gives any man on the roster the opportunity to step up and become a hero.
The World Series can turn an unknown player into a legend. Just ask Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has gone from relative obscurity to becoming a household name in just a few seasons, and he wasn't the first or last.
The Fall Classic separates the men from the boys. It's an opportunity to erase the regular season from the thoughts of fans and become an unexpected savior.
Did any of this season's Giants forge their way onto this list with an incredible October to join the likes of Ruiz? Here are the 10 most unlikely World Series heroes.
10. Scott Podsednik
2005 Stats: .290/.351/.349, 0 HR
Scott Podsednik didn't have a bad season for the Chicago White Sox in 2005, but if there was anyone less terrifying at the plate with the game on the line in a potential walk-off situation, I'm struggling to think of him.
In 568 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2005, Podsednik had hit a grand total of zero home runs. Not much of a power threat.
He may have been the least likely player to hit a walk-off home run in the 2005 World Series, and that is what made it a great moment. Truly exciting.
9. Jim Leyritz
1996 Stats: .264/.355/.381, 7 HR
Jim Leyritz had been a solid player for the 1996 New York Yankees. But he was never the type of player to step up and be "the man." He was more of a utility infielder, playing a lot of first and third base as well as catcher in his career.
But Leyritz got his moment to shine in '96.
After appearing in just 88 games during the regular season, Leyrtiz got his chance to be a hero in Game 4 of the World Series when, with two runners on base, he stepped up to the plate with an opportunity to finish off an improbable comeback against the Atlanta Braves.
Already leading three games to none, Leyritz launched a three-run bomb over the outfield wall that would eventually clinch the 1996 World Series for the Yanks.
8. Pat Borders
1992 Stats: .242/.290/.385, 13 HR
Pat Borders would go on to have a solid career as a catcher, but one of his greatest moments came during the 1992 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
This was a great series that would go to six games—all of which were caught by Borders.
The '92 Fall Classic was a low-scoring affair dominated by pitching, but the one player that the fantastic Braves starters couldn't seem to retire was the light-hitting catcher, Borders.
He went 9-for-20 with a home run and, by far, was the best offensive player of the series for the Toronto Blue Jays.
7. Luis Sojo
2000 Stats (with NYY): .288/.321/.408, 2 HR
After Luis Sojo signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates following the 1999 season, it looked as though his career with the New York Yankees was over, but history tells us that it was anything but.
The Pirates sent him back to the Yankees during the 2000 season, and Sojo was a vital part of the Yanks' eventual victory in the Fall Classic.
Sojo didn't even start Game 5 of that series against the New York Mets, but he would play an integral role in the well-known "Subway Series." After entering Game 5 as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning, Sojo came up to hit in the top of the ninth.
Sojo crushed the Mets faithful when he stroked a single past the infield that would score two runs for the Yankees and eventually seal their victory.
6. Edgar Renteria
1997 Stats: .277/.327/.340, 4 HR
When it was all said and done, Edgar Renteria would have a solid MLB career. Looking toward the future from a 1997 perspective, he was all potential and little results.
He had been the shortstop for the Florida Marlins all season long but had a poor year at the plate. Needless to say, he wasn't expected to contribute in a big way when the surprise Marlins reached the World Series, but he did.
Renteria shocked the Cleveland Indians by going 9-for-31 with three walks, RBI and runs scored.
5. Kurt Bevacqua
1984 Stats: .200/.326/.275, 1 HR
Kurt Bevacqua's career was all but finished in 1984.
He was a solid utility man that had played a lot of positions for a lot of ballclubs over a lot of years, and he seemed to be at the end of his rope when he hit just .200 for the San Diego Padres during the 1984 campaign.
But no man was more important during the World Series.
The Padres were set to square off with the Detroit Tigers, and their 37-year-old utility man would play a crucial role. Bevacqua would go 7-for-17 with a pair of home runs and doubles each, driving in four runs to help lead the Padres to victory.
4. Bobby Richardson
1960 Stats: .252/.303/.298, 1 HR
The 1960 New York Yankees could hit. If you were looking for a potential World Series hero, you had your choices, including Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Bill Skowron, just to name a few.
One name that you wouldn't have chosen was Bobby Richardson—the Yankees' slick defender who wasn't exactly known for his bat—until the 1960 World Series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates came into the series with enough concerns about the Yankees lineup. They seemed to be in trouble when Richardson went 11-for-30 with a grand slam, two doubles and 11 RBI. It sure looked as though the Yankees had the Pirates on the ropes.
Of course, Bill Mazeroski had other ideas, but that's a story for another slideshow.
3. Tony Womack
2001 Stats: .266/.307/.345, 3 HR
Throughout most of his career, Tony Womack would be known as a solid infielder with above-average speed that, outside of his 1997 season, never really did anything too spectacular. He would develop into a very nice utility player, and that was fine.
But Womack found an opportunity to shine with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the thrilling 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees.
The normally light-hitting Womack went 8-for-32 with three doubles, three runs scored and three RBI.
2. Carlos Ruiz
2008 Stats: .219/.320/.300, 4 HR
The progress that Carlos Ruiz has made over just four seasons is nothing short of incredible. He was easily one of the best hitters in the National League in 2012—a stellar improvement from his work at the dish in 2008.
When the Philadelphia Phillies made their run at the World Series in 2008, they were an excellent offensive team, and Ruiz had nothing to do with it—until October.
Ruiz feasted on the Tampa Bay Rays pitching, going 6-for-16 with a home run, two doubles, two runs scored, four walks and three RBI.
He came in as a light-hitting catcher and left as "Senor Octubre."
1. Brian Doyle
1978 Stats: .192/.192/.192, 0 HR
The most unlikely World Series hero of all time?
Well, that would be former New York Yankees backup second baseman Brian Doyle.
Doyle didn't play much during the 1978 regular season, appearing in just 39 games as a 23-year-old rookie. Over that span of time, he hit just .192 with zero extra-base hits, but the '78 Fall Classic created a new monster.
When starting second baseman Willie Randolph went down with an injury, the Yanks called on Doyle to fill in for him. He did that and then some.
Doyle went 7-for-16 with a double, two RBI and four runs scored. He went from being a nobody to a postseason hero for the best postseason franchise of all time. Well done, Doyle.