The defending world champion San Francisco Giants had a lot of things go their way in 2010. One of the biggest advantages they had during their amazing run to glory was good health.
Things have been very different for the Giants in 2011, as the club has been racked with injury after key injury, making it very difficult for San Francisco to maintain its standing as one of the premier teams in the National League.
Somehow, manager Bruce Bochy and his club have been able to weather the storm. They find themselves in first place in the NL West as they approach the All-Star break.
While the Giants have been able to stay afloat, the injuries suffered by key role players for San Francisco have certainly had a huge impact.
Let's examine each in terms of their overall effect on the club.
Ford singlehandedly changed the complexion of the game after entering as a pinch runner, dashing home on a ground ball to the drawn-in infield to score the winning run for the Giants late in the game.
Ford injured his ankle in May but has been activated off the disabled list and optioned to Fresno.
His loss over the past six weeks has been significant for the Giants, a club that has had a very difficult time scoring runs. The team needs all the speed it can get on the basepaths.
Andres Torres is back from his early-season Achilles strain, patrolling center field for the Giants
Andres Torres was a big part of the Giants' world championship season in 2010. He had a breakout campaign in his first season as an everyday starter in the big leagues.
Torres hit .268 in 2010 with 43 doubles, eight triples, 16 home runs and 63 RBI. He homered in the World Series, and throughout the season he sparked the Giants offense from the top of the order.
Torres strained an Achilles tendon on April 9 against the Cardinals at AT&T Park. He would be sidelined for a month. But Aaron Rowand took his place and played well, minimizing the loss the Giants would suffer by not having their starting center fielder in the lineup each day.
Rowand hit .294 in April and helped the Giants win several games while Torres was on the disabled list, including San Francisco's April 28 contest in Pittsburgh, where Rowand's three RBI and steal of home helped the Giants defeat the Pirates.
While it hurt the Giants to not have their spark plug at the top of the lineup, Rowand filled in for the injured Torres admirably.
Brian Wilson, the Giants' black-bearded and fearsome closer, led the majors in saves last season (48) and was more than dominant in the 2010 postseason.
San Francisco's eccentric No. 38 was injured during spring training, however, with a strained oblique. He missed the first couple weeks of the season.
While not having their star closer definitely had the potential to derail the beginning of the Giants' title defense in 2011, San Francisco made it through the opening weeks of the season without Wilson. After a couple of shaky outings, Wilson was back to his normal, overpowering self.
Brandon Belt was so impressive during spring training that he made the big league club, beginning the 2011 season as a San Francisco Giant.
Belt was impressive in San Francisco's opening series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, hitting a three-run home run to dead center field on April 1. But he struggled after that, seeing his batting average drop to just .211 before being demoted to Triple-A Fresno.
Once with the Fresno Grizzlies, however, Belt made a mechanical adjustment to his swing that seemed to solve his problems. He hit .337 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 101 at-bats in Triple-A before being recalled to San Francisco.
Unfortunately, Belt was hit by a pitch that fractured his wrist on May 31, sending him to the disabled list. The immediate loss of Belt was extremely detrimental to a Giants offense that was reeling after losing Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey.
Mark DeRosa missed nearly the entire 2010 season with the Giants. He had to watch from the bench as his new team won the World Series.
DeRosa was surely excited to be healthy again at the start of the 2011 campaign, hoping to help his club repeat with another championship.
But his injury problems just would not cease. DeRosa suffered a torn tendon in his surgically repaired wrist during a check swing in a May 18 game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
DeRosa's injury had a significant impact on the Giants not only offensively, but defensively as well. DeRosa was the Giants' super-utility man, able to play nearly every position on the field save for pitcher and catcher.
With the defensive struggles of Miguel Tejada, as well as the injury to Pablo Sandoval, DeRosa's presence was very important for the Giants to be able to plug holes while starters got healthy.
Pablo Sandoval made it clear very early on this season that he was back in shape, not only physically (having shed 40 pounds in the offseason) but offensively as well.
Sandoval hit .313 with five home runs and 14 RBI during the first month of the season, becoming San Francisco's best offensive weapon in a lineup that otherwise was mostly punchless.
Sandoval then broke the hamate bone in his right hand in late April and was sidelined for nearly two months after having successful surgery on the hand.
The loss of the Giants' best hitter while the rest of San Francisco's lineup at the time was slumping so badly made it that much more difficult to score runs and support San Francisco's excellent pitching staff.
Sandoval has since returned from the disabled list and is off to a slow start as he tries to get back in the swing of things. The result of the hand injury is not only two missed months, but also a sore right hand for Sandoval.
He will feel it every time he swings from the left side the rest of the year.
How the sore hand will impact the rest of Sandoval's season offensively remains to be seen, but there will very likely be lingering questions about how much Sandoval would have accomplished with the bat but for the hand injury.
When Freddy Sanchez separated his shoulder on a dive for a ground ball up the middle in the Giants' June 10 game against the Cincinnati Reds, he was San Francisco's leading hitter with a .289 batting average.
Sanchez's injury may have ended his season. While he has had multiple opinions from doctors and the consensus is to hold off on surgery for now, one thing is certain: Sanchez's injury will keep him out longer than Sandoval's did. The result will be a huge hole in the Giants' already lackluster batting order.
Sanchez is irreplaceable defensively as well, as he proved last year in the playoffs and into the first two months of 2011. The Giants are going to sorely miss his presence on the field.
When Buster Posey was smashed in a home plate collision with Scott Cousins, the Florida Marlins baserunner who was barreling toward the Giants' star catcher to score on a sacrifice fly, the most psychologically devastating blow to the defending world champions unfolded.
Posey would exit the game, and the season, with a broken leg and several torn ankle ligaments. Not only had the Giants lost the man who handled their elite pitching staff so deftly in just his first season in the big leagues and the cleanup hitter in their batting order, but they had also lost a true field general.
Posey was hitting .284 with four home runs and 21 RBI, but his on-field leadership is the most significant casualty to stem from the tragic injury on May 25. The fact that the Giants have been able to continue to find ways to win without him is a true testament to this club's grit and determination to defend their World Series title.
Others have stepped up in Posey's absence, but nothing can replace the magic that Posey brings to the game when he's on the field.
While the Giants didn't know it at the time, a sprained foot would become the most impactful injury of the first half of San Francisco's season.
Barry Zito, San Francisco's fifth starter who missed the postseason due to his second half struggles in 2010 and was continuing to falter early this season (0-1, 6.23 ERA), sprained his foot trying to field a bunt against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 16.
The Giants suddenly had to replace a fifth starter. They turned to 33-year-old Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong, who ironically had been drafted by San Francisco in 1998 and traded to Pittsburgh in 2001, returned to his original big league organization after signing a minor league contract last offseason.
Vogelsong, who was released by the Pirates in 2006 and had to go to Japan to keep his professional baseball career alive, was impressive during spring training and made some successful relief appearances for the Giants in early April.
Vogelsong's performance has turned Zito's injury into the most impactful of the season, as the journeyman right-hander has gone 5-1 with an unbelievable 1.86 ERA in 11 starts so far for San Francisco.
Vogelsong's success has prompted a discussion over whether he should be chosen as an All-Star by his skipper and manager of this year's National League All-Star team, Bruce Bochy.
Vogelsong's story is one of the best in Major League Baseball this season, and it was only possible because of an injury to Zito, who has returned from the disabled list and is scheduled to start in the late game of a doubleheader with the Cubs Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
Jonathan Sanchez is the latest Giant to head to the disabled list. The impact his injury will have on the defending world champions is unknown. Sanchez was placed on the DL with a biceps tendinitis after his start against the Indians on Friday night.
Despite an uncanny number of key injuries so far, San Francisco is 44-34 and sits atop the National League West.
Manager Bruce Bochy and his club have found ways to win. The fact that the Giants have survived the impact of this succession of injuries is a sign that San Francisco is a team to be reckoned with in 2011.
The road to a World Series title must pass through the City by the Bay.