4 Unsung Heroes Who Have Been Vital in the Creation of the SF Giants Dynasty
Every time a team wins a championship, some players are overwhelmed with boatloads of praise.
And, every time a team wins a championship, some key components to the team's success are overshadowed.
The same goes with the Giants, in 2010 and 2012. The theme of torture was preached in both postseason runs, and certain players lifted the team over the hump, as early as the NLDS.
So, I will honor some Giants who helped the team win the World Series (in either year) but haven't been recognized for their efforts. Even though some of these guys didn't play a ton, they still found a way to contribute in a huge way.
Outside of the NLDS, Joaquin Arias didn't really help the Giants. But obviously, you need to win the NLDS to get to the NLCS and World Series.
Arias hit a ground ball that Scott Rolen made an error on, as Arias' hustle allowed him to reach the base and the Giants to win Game 3 of the NLDS. In Game 4, he went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs, jumpstarting two big innings in which the Giants totaled five runs.
Even though he only received eight at-bats in the playoffs (with six of them in the NLDS), he compiled a .375 batting average and didn't make any fielding errors. His hustle ignited the Giants' rally in Game 3, and there's a chance that the Giants wouldn't have gotten out of the NLDS without the utility third baseman.
I wanted Arias to start more often, especially at DH in the World Series. He is a talented player and helped a lot in the regular season, too, allowing the team to rest and have some valuable time to make important playoff decisions, something that was very key.
Thanks to Arias' ability to dominate in a limited amount of time, the Giants enjoyed their postseason success and won the World Series. Unfortunately, Arias won't be receiving much (if any) credit for his achievements.
Travis Ishikawa only hit .200 in the 2010 playoffs, but he definitely deserves to be on this list.
Just like Arias, he had limited playing time, only stepping to the plate 13 times in the playoffs. However, in Game 3 of the NLDS, with Atlanta leading the game 2-1 in the ninth inning and threatening to take the series lead 2-1, Ishikawa changed the whole series.
He was patient, watching Craig Kimbrel, the flame-thrower who used to have problems locating his fastball, miss the zone. Ishikawa took the walk and later hustled home on a single by Aubrey Huff, and the Giants won 3-2 (no extra innings).
Sure, Brooks Conrad committing three errors was pretty bad (and funny). But Ishikawa didn't get enough credit. And the same goes in Game 4 of the NLDS, when Ishikawa stretched as high as he could and made a great play to secure the final out of the clinching game.
So, without Ishikawa shifting the momentum of the series, the Giants might not have seen a World Series title in 2010. All it took was one monumental walk.
I don't know why, but Javier Lopez is almost never talked about in Giants discussions.
In the 2012 playoffs, he pitched three scoreless innings. In 2010, he pitched 5.2 innings and allowed one run, even though he wasn't pitching when that run scored. Lefties had no chance against him, and he was huge in the 2012 NLDS.
Remember that crazy Game 6 in the 2010 NLCS? Lopez got the win, for shutting down the Phillies in the seventh inning. He got two key outs in the 2012 NLDS, and was big in every postseason series in 2010.
His inability to pitch to righties diminished his recognition and innings pitched, but it didn't stop him from contributing. And he didn't do too poorly against righties, either.
But the casual fans only remember the Sergio Romo's, the guys who close out the World Series. Not Lopez, the man who has done his job silently at every stage for three years. We all know who he is, and most fans recognize what he's done.
However, if you can't see how vital Lopez has been, then you need to study your Giants more.
Gregor Blanco is a great story, and we all know how much he has contributed. But it's safe to say that most of us have underestimated his contributions.
In Game 4 of the NLDS, he hit a two-run homer. In Game 5, he started San Francisco's six-run inning with a single. In the NLCS, he laid out multiple times and made some great defensive plays.
In Game 1 of the World Series, he made two diving catches. In Game 2, he laid down a perfect bunt that set up the Giants' first run. In Game 3, he hit an RBI triple and scored a run, while making a great catch in foul territory.
Are you convinced? You should be.
Blanco tracked everything down in left field, and he threw the ball in to Marco Scutaro, who threw to Buster Posey to tag out Prince Fielder in a key play in Game 2. His defense was flawless, and he came up with big hits at big times.
His energy and performance inspired the team, and it inspired me to praise him. A true postseason hero was created, as Blanco showed that all you need to do is hustle, make great defensive plays and come up with clutch hits to be a hero.
Which, as I'm sure Blanco would tell you, is easier said than done.