In 2010, the year the San Francisco Giants won their last World Series title, Pablo Sandoval batted .268 with 13 home runs, 63 RBI and posted a.732 OPS (on base + slugging percentage). He performed so poorly in the NLDS against Atlanta and the NLCS against Philadelphia (3 hits in 16 at bats) that he was benched in favor of Juan Uribe.
Let me repeat that for you. He performed so poorly in the NLDS against Atlanta and the NLCS against Philadelphia that he was benched in favor of JUAN URIBE. Sure, he received his championship ring for his contributions to the team during the year, but it’s safe to say he wasn’t all that pleased being an afterthought in their postseason success.
Oh, what a difference both time and a chip on your shoulder will make. This postseason, following his 3 home run, 4 RBI outburst against Justin Verlander, the “Kung Fu Panda” is now batting .370 with 6 home runs and 13 RBI while forming a respectable 3-4 force in the lineup with catcher Buster Posey.
No one expected Sandoval, who hit only 12 home runs in the regular season, to turn AT&T Park into his personal launching pad, especially considering that as a team the Giants hit only 31 home runs in the stadium during the regular season.
Let me repeat that for you. As a team, the Giants hit only 31 home runs in their own stadium during the regular season.
Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where George tells Jerry that he got a job with the New York Yankees? “Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle…Costanza?!” Picture that as you rattle off the only players to hit three home runs in a single World Series game. “Ruth, Jackson, Pujols…Sandoval?!”
In Barry Zito’s case, he didn’t even make the 2010 postseason roster following an abysmal 9-14 regular season with a 4.15 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 199.1 innings pitched. This season he finally posted a winning record for the first time in a Giants uniform.
Let me repeat that for you. This season, for the first time since joining the Giants in 2007, Barry Zito finished the season with more wins than losses. I won’t even mention his $126 million contract…
But Zito came through when the Giants needed him the most. With Madison Bumgarner struggling and Matt Cain not pitching like Matt Cain, Zito found his old form. With his team facing elimination against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, Zito stifled the Cards by allowing only 6 hits in 7.2 innings with 6 strikeouts. He even got in on the offensive fun with an RBI bunt-single.
He was at it again last night against the Tigers. Zito went 5.2 innings, allowing only one earned run and one walk while striking out three. The Tigers looked overmatched all night and couldn’t seem to pick up his off-speed pitches. He even helped his own cause with another RBI single.
Sandoval and Zito were nonfactors in the Giants 2010 run to the championship. With other big name stars on this team, it’s hard to believe that these were the two leading the way and setting the pace against a Tigers team that seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. I guess they just want a piece of jewelry they can be proud of.