With Sunday’s 4-3 win in extras over the San Diego Padres a thing of the past, the 2009 San Francisco Giants season is officially completed. Every one of the 162 games has been completed, and the book has been written.
The final record for the beloved Gigantes reads 88 wins, 74 losses—something few, if any, of us thought was possible back when the team reported to camp in the spring.
For many teams, winning 88 games would mean your spot in the playoffs is all but locked up. There have been teams with fewer wins that made the playoffs. Hell, teams with fewer wins have gone on to win their respective divisions or even win the World Series.
Most people said .500 would do and then wait for the influx of young studs to come through the system to really see the team take. Many didn’t expect the jump the Giants took this year because we all thought it would be a gradual progression from the lowest of lows back to being one of the league's best.
Now we know the Giants are ahead of schedule.
It was pretty much a given that this team would be built around its pitching and that if the offense could put at least an average output together, they could go far. Check any season preview that was put out there, and they basically said the same thing.
Regardless of the lack of offense and the continuous loss of fingernails, it was a great season to watch. Whether it was Tim Lincecum having his second Cy Young kind of season in as many years, witnessing the breakout season that Matt Cain had, or just watching Pablo Sandoval be Pablo Sandoval on a daily basis, the product on the field was an enjoyable one.
The Giants were not only one of the biggest surprises in the National League, but also all of baseball. Remember, this is a team that had lost 90 and 91 games in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and recorded four straight losing seasons overall.
They were the team that was supposed to be rebuilding. Yes, there were Lincecum, Cain, and a still inexperienced Sandoval with the big club, but the talent that the team had stocked up on in the previous three drafts wasn’t expected to make a legit impact until 2010 or 2011.
For the most part, that still is the case. But when September came around in a somewhat surprising fashion, we got to see both Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner make their debuts in the orange and black.
It might have happened if the Giants were out of the race when September started, not when they were battling the Rockies for a spot in the playoffs. Albeit Bumgarner’s one start came when the Giants were still in the wild card chase and Posey’s came when the Giants were all but done, there was still the vision of what is going to be a regular occurrence at AT&T Park for years to come.
To see this team win 88 games and not officially be eliminated until the final week of September, instead of basically giving up any hopes of the playoffs right after the All-Star Break, was satisfying enough.
It was understandable that once people realized this team could do things, they wanted it to be “playoffs or bust” in San Francisco, but the obvious shortfalls this team had led to its fading out of the race.
Still, it was a successful season nonetheless.
It was a sight to see that while they had to grind the whole game to score two or three runs, they were still a competitive club the whole season. It might not have looked like it at some points in time, but the Giants, like the eventually annoying ad campaign said, were in this thing.
Did we really expect the Giants to be a playoff contender with the kind of offense, or lack thereof, they had?
Not at all if you consider it was basically the same kind of output as the previous season.
The Giants scored just 17 more runs than they did a year ago but won 15 more games. They didn’t win many games, maybe a handful at best, because of their offense, and that means that the pitching was just incredible.
There are clearly things that need to be improved by the front office. If the Giants had any offense at all, even a middle of the road one, they would be playing baseball this week.
Still, despite the deficiencies that certainly have to be addressed this winter, the foundation is there to establish one hell of a run. Things could be worse—a whole lot worse (see Pittsburgh, PA).
Now, compared to other years, there is hope and some raised expectations.
The withdrawals are going to be a little harder to control this winter.
Just 182 days until the Giants open up in Houston.