Going into the summer, the San Francisco Giants were the best team in baseball. They were the first to 40 wins, they were 21 games over .500 (42-21) and they had a healthy lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The bats were loud, the pitching efficient, the bullpen lights-out, and owner Brian Sabean looked like a genius: offseason acquisitions Tim Hudson and Michael Morse were key contributors. Then the Giants turned around a full 180 degrees, losing players to injuries, going into serious slumps, and eventually finding themselves trailing the Dodgers. However, in the past few weeks, San Francisco seems to have gotten back on track.
Much of the success can be summarized as new players building off of a strong foundation. Veterans such as catcher Buster Posey and right fielder Hunter Pence have been the core of the lineup the entire year, and pitcher Madison Bumgarner has proved himself to be one of the best pitchers in the game.
The Giants have solidified their success by filling in the gaps in their lineup. Rookie second baseman Joe Panik is filling the hole that the Giants have had at second for the entire season with the injury to Marco Scutaro and the backfiring acquisition of Dan Uggla. Andrew Susac has been the other rookie making noise this season, filling in the role of back-up catcher. The Giants also filled the hole left by Brandon Belt, who suffered a series of concussions at first base with a rotation of mid-season pickup Travis Ishikawa, rookie Adam Duvall and utility infielder Joaquin Arias.
The Giants have found offensive success from the “Killer P’s,” with Panik, Posey, Pence and Pablo Sandoval all making contributions. You can throw in Yusmiero Petit and Jake Peavy in there too to get some pitching.
As of press deadline, San Francisco has clinched a post-season spot. Though they lost the NL West race to Los Angeles, they clinched a place in the Wild Card round with four games remaining. They will play in a one game playoff tomorrow, October 1, against either the Pittsburgh Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals. The winner of the game will move on to play the Washington Nationals in the divisional series.
Overall, the Giants are excited for the postseason.
“This is why you grind it out all year—to play for October and play to get into the postseason, and this is what makes your year,” Bumgarner said in an interview with reporter Amy Gutierrez. “It’s so much fun playing in this atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to it.”