Brandon Belt

Ryan Vogelsong caps incredible comeback season

How good has Ryan Vogelsong’s story been this season?

1. So good that even though he wasn’t on the 2010 World Series champions, Vogelsong’s story garnered him more airtime on “The Franchise” than any other player on the team.

2. So good that even though we’re conditioned to focus less on the individuals within a team when the team doesn’t win (or win enough), it’s downright easy to look at Vogelsong and say, “You know, the Giants didn’t do the best job defending their title, but I’m so happy for that guy.”

3. So good that I haven’t really focused on it much. Why? Because Vogelsong’s story is so good, and everyone knows it so well, it’s pretty hard to add anything. The guy won the Willie Mac Award and turned his career around in one season at age 34 — what more can you say?

After how he pitched in his last start of the season, it’s still hard to put Vogelsong’s 2011 season into words. The great thing for Vogelsong is this win leaves a fantastic lasting impression — not that he needed it, since he’s probably going to win the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award. Just ask Troy Renck, Colorado Rockies beat writer for The Denver Post:

Vogelsong didn’t just go seven scoreless. He only gave up four hits and didn’t walk a single hitter. It was Vogelsong’s first outing without a walk since pitching 3.1 scoreless innings in relief of Madison Bumgarner back on April 22 against the Braves. That’s been Vogelsong’s weakness throughout his career, the ability to limit walks. His stuff’s never been a problem, and it wasn’t all season long.

Vogelsong ended the year with three consecutive wins to run his record to 13-7, by far the best of any Giants’ starter. While he’s gotten better run support than Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum (but worse than Madison Bumgarner, surprisingly enough), Vogelsong’s charmed year hit kind of a speed bump, losing five consecutive decisions (he pitched at least seven innings during four of those losses, allowing three or fewer runs in each start).

Vogelsong ends the year with 179.2 innings pitched, 139 strikeouts, a 2.71 ERA and an extremely bright future for a guy who’s been released by several MLB teams and spent a couple seasons in Japan. But you already knew that.

Welcome back, Bam-Bam

— According to Janie McCauley, the Giants are going to bring back their entire coaching staff in 2012. Including Hensley Meulens. I have nothing against Bam-Bam, who clearly works hard with players before games. Whether it’s setting the ball on the tee for them or throwing soft toss, he definitely works a full day. But if it isn’t his fault that the Giants are at the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive category, whose fault is it? I guess the Giants are blaming the players themselves for a complete meltdown, because you know they won’t blame the general manager.

— Speaking of good last impressions, Brett Pill went 2-for-3 with a sac fly and played the entire game. Meanwhile, Brandon Belt went 0-for-3 and was replaced in the seventh inning by Justin Christian.

— Now it looks like Pablo Sandoval might not need shoulder surgery this off-season, and he might play in the Taiwan All-Star Series. Cue the “panda’s in his natural habitat” stories!

— Brian Wilson’s season appears to be over. Going to be VERY interesting to hear reports on his velocity in late February.

— Sergio Romo shaved his beard and about 12 years off his age, appearance-wise.

— Santiago Casilla has had a pretty decent 2-year stretch, eh? 100 appearances, 106.1 innings, 101 strikeouts, 51 walks (his only real blemish), 1.86 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 8-for-10 in save opportunities.

— Okay, Giants fans. I know the season’s over in terms of the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean you can do the wave. Like I wrote on Twitter, doing the wave while Romo’s protecting a lead in the eighth inning — regardless of the Giants’ place in the standings — is grounds for Bruce Bochy to take back that letter he wrote to Giants fans.

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