World Series MVP: 3B Pablo Sandoval - San Francisco Giants
.500 AVG, 3 HR, 4 RBI
If there was ever a team that truly personifies the slogan, 'you win as a team', the 2012 San Francisco Giants showed how it's done. These guys had a lot of hurdles and question marks going into the postseason. And yet they played to their strengths and kept moving forward.
Forget the matchup in the World Series for a moment. They lost arguably their best player at the time, Melky Cabrera to a 50 game suspension for having an abnormal amount of testosterone in his system. With that and his agent creating a fake website to help clear him, the Giants said goodbye to Melky. The irony here is that he was the MVP of the 2012 All-Star game in Kansas City in July.
Their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers make a splashy trade getting Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford from the Boston Red Sox in late August. Everyone figured that would get the Dodgers into the postseason and the Giants would be in trouble. Not so as the Giants stayed ahead of the Dodgers winning the NL West. Los Angeles fell flat and out of the NL Wild Card race as well.
Those were just two examples. I could mention the fact that their closer Brian Wilson was lost in April to Tommy John surgery. Alas that didn't affect them as much as it would for almost every other team in baseball.
The Giants were down 2-0 to the Cincinnati Reds in the Division Series. They had to win three straight in Cincinnati to advance. Not a problem.
The Giants were down 3-1 to the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals. Game 5 was in St. Louis and the Giants had to win to take the series back to San Francisco. Not a problem.
When they returned to San Francisco, the Giants gained new life in their offense. And their pitching was even better than in previous games.
Surprisingly a lot of folks assumed that the Detroit Tigers were going to easily beat the Giants in the World Series. Not saying they were going to sweep the Giants, but that the Tigers lineup would provide some tough matchup problems for the Giants pitchers.
On the contrary. The Giants pitchers were just fine and their lineup was giving the Tigers pitchers matchup problems. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro batted a measly .250 in the World Series (that's compared to his NLCS average of .500). But he provided the game winning hit in the 10th inning of Game 4. Pablo Sandoval crushed 3 home runs in Game 1, two of them off Tigers ace Justin Verlander. That performance propelled him into legend status and to the World Series MVP honor.
The rotation of Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner were phenomenal. Closer Sergio Romo had his nasty slider working. And Jeremy Affeldt struck out four straight Tigers (Cabrera, Fielder, Young and Dirks) during his 1 2/3 innings of relief during Game 4.
Only two Tigers had a batting average of over .300 (min 4 games played). They were Delmon Young (.357) and Omar Infante (.333). The rest batted .231 or less.
The Giants depth in their rotation also provided an additional weapon for their bullpen in Tim Lincecum. He's still a starter in my mind. Winning two NL Cy Young awards is no fluke. Not to mention they were back-to-back. Regardless that was a tremendous boost to their bullpen knowing they had another pitcher that could go for a long stretch if need be.
Timely hitting and excellent pitching were the keys to the San Francisco Giants winning their second World Series in the last three years. Whether it was Buster Posey's grand slam in the Division Series. To Marco Scutaro opening the flood gates in Game 6 of the NLCS. Or even Gregor Blanco getting a triple in Game 3 of the World Series.
The Giants weren't a team of destiny. They just played the game of baseball as a team. Plain and simple.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning their 7th World Series title. They were a fun team to watch.