The Giants have to win four more games before we can even think of bringing up the “d-word” to describe this team, and a look at who remains from the championship team in 2010 shows just how nimble a team has to be to enjoy sustained excellence — or even every-other-year excellence.
Homegrown talent is the foundation. Just take a look around the diamond during any of these games. But for a team that’s known for keeping its core players “together” longer than most, it’s interesting that only two position players on this team were members of the championship teams in 2010 and 2012.
If there was any doubt that the Giants were built on pitching, a look at the full list of nine players who’ve won two rings in San Francisco (and starting tomorrow will work toward a third) should wipe that doubt away. It’s an interesting and diverse group as far as career arcs are concerned; some are ascending, two are missing in action this time around for different reasons, and two could leave the Giants not long after the conclusion of the 2014 World Series.
Here they are, in alphabetical order.
1. Jeremy Affeldt
Giants debut: 2009 (free agent)
Postseason resume: Affeldt has had several great moments in the playoffs, but Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS probably trumps them all. After Jonathan Sanchez walked Placido Polanco and hit Chase Utley to lead off the third inning, Affeldt retired Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino to get out of the inning. Then he pitched a perfect fourth inning for good measure. Affeldt’s injuries have caused laughter and head-shaking over the years, but he’s been phenomenal in the playoffs. Starting with Game 3 of the 2010 World Series, Affeldt is currently riding a streak of 18 scoreless postseason innings.
Signed through: 2015
2. Madison Bumgarner
Giants debut: 2009 (drafted 10th overall in 2007)
Postseason resume: He pitched eight shutout innings in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, and Aubrey Huff told a Fox reporter after the game that Bumgarner has a lot more personality than he lets on. Huff wasn’t lying, as Bumgarner has emerged from the shadows cast by Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to become the undisputed ace of the staff (and quite the beer drinker!). He had a bit of a postseason hiccup with two bad outings in 2012, but with extra rest he shut out the Tigers for seven innings in Game 2 of that World Series.
Signed through: 2017 (team options for 2018 and 2019 that the Giants would be insane not to exercise if he’s healthy)
3. Matt Cain
Giants debut: 2005 (drafted 25th overall in 2002)
Postseason resume: It’s got to be killing Cain to watch these playoffs after undergoing surgery on his elbow and ankle, but his postseason contributions will never be forgotten: 21.1 innings without allowing an earned run in 2010 as a fro-haired 26-year-old, and 30 solid innings (3.60 ERA) as the number one starter in 2012.
Signed through: 2017 (team option for 2018)
4. Santiago Casilla
Giants debut: 2010 (free agent)
Postseason resume: Possibly the most underrated Giants pitcher in my lifetime. There are still people in my Twitter timeline who complain whenever he gets behind a hitter, but his ERA in five seasons with the Giants is 2.10. In 18.1 postseason innings: 0.98.
Signed through: 2015 (team option for 2016)
5. Tim Lincecum
Giants debut: 2007 (drafted 10th overall in 2006)
Postseason resume: Pitched the best game in Giants playoff history in his very first try when he tossed a 14-strikeout two-hitter against the Braves in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS. It could be the most important start in San Francisco Giants history, considering he was the leader of a group that was totally unproven heading into that postseason. He was an instrumental part of the 2012 championship team as a “supersub” reliever, thriving in a role no one would’ve imagined him in two years earlier. Fast forward two years later, and Lincecum is still waiting to contribute in these playoffs. The Giants still believe he’ll do something great in the World Series — with his history of coming up big in pressure moments, it’s hard to blame them (despite his overall regression since 2011).
Signed through: 2015
6. Javier Lopez
Giants debut: 2010 (midseason trade)
Postseason resume: Giants fans have been known to complain about having two expensive lefty relievers on the payroll … until the playoffs, when Affeldt and Lopez always seem to shine. Lopez has allowed just one run in 10.2 postseason innings with the Giants. He recently had a 12-appearance streak without surrendering a hit snapped when he gave up a single to Jon Jay in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Signed through: 2016
7. Buster Posey
Giants debut: 2009 (drafted fifth overall in 2008)
Postseason resume: Two of his four October home runs doubled as pivotal moments in memorable Giants victories: the grand slam off Mat Latos in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS silenced 40,000+ fans at Great American Ballpark, and his two-run home run in the sixth inning gave the Giants a 3-2 lead in Game 4 of the World Series (they’d eventually win the clinching game 4-3 in the 10th inning). Just as important — if not more so — the team’s ERA is 2.40 with Posey behind the plate over 39 postseason games.
Signed through: 2021 (team option for 2022)
8. Sergio Romo
Giants debut: 2008 (drafted in 28th round in 2005)
Postseason resume: Romo’s playoff career didn’t get off to a great start. He gave up singles to the only two hitters he faced in Game 2 of the 2010 NLDS. Then he came in with a man on first and gave up a home run to Eric Hinske in Game 3. Since then, he’s been just about perfect besides the changeup he threw to Kolten Wong in Game 2 of the NLCS last Sunday. Romo saved four games in the 2012 playoffs — Game 5 of the NLDS and Games 2, 3 and 4 of the World Series. His postseason ERA is 2.37 with only two walks over 19 innings.
Signed through: 2014
9. Pablo Sandoval
Giants debut: 2008 (signed as an amateur free agent in 2003)
Postseason resume: He only played six games during the 2010 postseason, as he was passed on the depth chart by Juan Uribe. Since then he’s been an October monster. Three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. A .349/.390/.688 slash line over 118 postseason plate appearances in 2012 and 2014. An ongoing streak of 23 straight playoff games in which he’s reached base. For a team that prides itself on winning playoff games and series, it’ll be awfully hard to let one of the best postseason performers in the game leave via free agency.
Signed through: 2014