The 2010 season was the one many Giants fans had awaited literally all their lives. Not only did the Giants capture the National League West, clinching the division on the season's final day to finish 92-70, but they also went 11-4 in the postseason against Atlanta, Philadelphia and Texas en route to winning the World Series. It was the franchise's first triumph in the Fall Classic since 1954 and, obviously, the first since the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958.
San Francisco's success revolved around its formidable pitching, which led the Majors with a 3.36 ERA. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez finished a combined 42-30 and rookie Madison Bumgarner won seven games in what amounted to the season's second half. They formed the first "homegrown" quartet of starting pitchers in the postseason since the 1986 Red Sox. Brian Wilson, who saved a Major League-high 48 games in the regular season and six more in the postseason, was nothing short of dominant as he anchored an effective bullpen. General manager Brian Sabean's midseason deals for left-hander Javier Lopez and right-hander Ramon Ramirez helped bolster the relief corps.
Catcher Buster Posey, the first Giant to be named National League Rookie of the Year since 1975, sustained a 21-game hitting streak in July to stimulate the club. He complemented leading run producers Aubrey Huff (.290, 26 home runs, 86 RBIs) and Juan Uribe (.248, 24, 85). Left fielder Pat Burrell (.266, 18, 51) joined the team in June and, like Posey, provided a necessary spark. Outfielder Cody Ross, claimed on waivers in August, became indispensable during the postseason as he was voted Most Valuable Player of the League Championship Series. Shortstop Edgar Renteria followed by winning World Series MVP honors in an effort capped by his three-run homer in the fifth and deciding game.
The Giants not only failed to repeat as World Series champions, they also missed the postseason, despite spending 81 days in first place. San Francisco settled for its third consecutive winning season, finishing second in the National League West at 86-76.
Outstanding pitching remained the Giants' hallmark. Four of their starters ranked among the league's top 11 in ERA. Three of them -- Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong -- made the NL All-Star team, where they were joined by closer Brian Wilson. But the staff's 3.20 ERA, second-best in the league, was nullified by the offense, which scored a NL-low 570 runs.
Injuries dogged the Giants, who used the disabled list a Major League-high 25 times. Season-ending injuries to catcher Buster Posey and second baseman Freddy Sanchez before the season was halfway over ultimately grounded the Giants. Without them, the team's most dynamic offensive performer was Pablo Sandoval (.315, 23 homers, 70 RBIs in 117 games), who also was a finalist for the Gold Glove award at third base.
Through it all, the fans remained ardent, still stoked by the club's first Series triumph in its San Francisco history. The Giants sold out every home game while setting an AT&T Park record with a total attendance of 3,387,303.
The Giants didn't field their greatest team ever in 2012. Just their guttiest.
San Francisco captured its second World Series in three years by winning six consecutive elimination games in the postseason. The 1985 Kansas City Royals were the only other team to accomplish this feat. The Giants' typically strong starting pitching fueled the team's surge, as Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner combined to record a 0.99 ERA in the last seven postseason contests, including a four-game World Series sweep of Detroit.
Buster Posey (.336, 24 home runs, 103 RBIs) won the National League's batting title and Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first catcher to capture those honors in 70 and 40 years, respectively. Others who recorded significant achievements included Marco Scutaro, who hit .362 in 61 games after the Giants obtained him from Colorado on July 27. Scutaro also hit .500 in the NLCS against St. Louis to earn series MVP honors. Right fielder Hunter Pence, another Trade Deadline acquisition, drove in 45 runs in 59 games. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Angel Pagan set a San Francisco-era record with 15 triples. Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt distinguished themselves in their first full Major League seasons by improving steadily as the year progressed. Outfielder Gregor Blanco made his mark as a clutch performer by contributing multiple outstanding defensive plays. And Pablo Sandoval saved his best for last, homering three times in Game 1 of the World Series to set the triumphant tempo for the Giants. Sandoval ultimately was named Series MVP.
Cain made history by pitching the 22nd perfect game in history on June 13 against Houston. He, Vogelsong, Bumgarner and Zito each won 14 games or more. Tim Lincecum slumped to a 10-15 mark, but the two-time Cy Young Award winner thrived in the postseason by yielding one earned run in 13 innings spanning five relief appearances. Though closer Brian Wilson was lost to an elbow ailment and Tommy John surgery in early April, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, among others, combined to compensate for the loss of the three-time All-Star.
The Giants absorbed another personel loss on Aug. 15 when left fielder Melky Cabrera, the All-Star Game MVP who was batting a league-high .346, was suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone. Rather than give up, the Giants finished 30-14 to run away with the NL West.
As good as that seemed, the best was yet to come.
A late-season surge prevented the Giants from becoming the only team besides the 1998 Marlins to finish in last place one year after capturing the World Series.
Nevertheless, the Giants still made the year a memorable one. Tim Lincecum threw the seventh no-hitter in the club's San Francisco history, subduing the Padres while striking out 13 on July 13 at San Diego. Yusmeiro Petit nearly eclipsed Lincecum on Sept. 6 by maintaining a perfect game until pinch-hitter Eric Chavez singled with two outs in the ninth inning.
Madison Bumgarner was the team's most consistent starter, posting a 13-9 record with a 2.77 ERA. Sergio Romo converted 38 save opportunities and left-hander Javier Lopez recorded a 1.83 ERA in a club-high 69 appearances. Otherwise, the Giants' renowned pitching staff slumped, finishing with a 4.00 ERA that ranked 13th in the National League.
Injuries hampered numerous position players, including second baseman Marco Scutaro, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and outfielders Angel Pagan and Andres Torres. A bright spot was right fielder Hunter Pence, who accumulated a team-high 178 hits, 27 home runs and 99 RBIs. Pence became the first Giant since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958 to start all 162 games.
The Giants delivered their finest offensive performance in a Sept. 14 victory over Los Angeles when they scored 19 runs -- the most ever tallied in a single game at Dodger Stadium.
The Giants have long been known for their legendary performers. More recently, they've been associated with championships. In 2014, they deepened their history in both areas as left-hander Madison Bumgarner burst into stardom to help San Francisco win its third World Series in five years. Bumgarner excelled as San Francisco captured the World Series in seven games against the Kansas City Royals, yielding one run in 21 innings for a 0.43 ERA. That was the lowest figure among pitchers who worked at least 15 innings in a Series since Sandy Koufax recorded a 0.38 ERA for the 1965 Dodgers. Bumgarner locked up Series Most Valuable Player honors by pitching a four-hit shutout in Game 5 before blanking the Royals for the final five innings on two days' rest in Game 7. Bumgarner was 2-0 with one save in the Series after also winning the MVP trophy in the National League Championship Series. That followed a regular season in which Bumgarner posted an 18-10 mark and was named an NL All-Star.
It was an extremely good year for Bumgarner and a year of extremes for the rest of the Giants. The bullpen thrived despite a change in closers from Sergio Romo to Santiago Casilla in late June. Starters Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong finished a combined nine games under .500 and Tim Lincecum was moved to the bullpen in August. However, Hudson performed well enough in the first half to make the All-Star team, and Lincecum pitched a no-hitter against San Diego on June 25.
The Giants seemed destined for the title they ultimately won when their record crested at 43-21 on June 8 following a 32-11 binge. By Aug. 12, however, the Giants slipped to six games over .500 (63-57) and appeared in danger of missing the postseason entirely. But Trade Deadline acquisition Jake Peavy won six of his final seven decisions, Buster Posey hit a Major League-high .354 after the All-Star break and rookie second baseman Joe Panik batted .305 in 73 games to help the Giants recover enough to reach the Wild Card Game against Pittsburgh.
San Francisco won that showdown, 8-0, as Bumgarner pitched a four-hit shutout, Brandon Crawford bashed a grand slam and Brandon Belt drove in three runs. That was the first of a record 12 posstseason triumphs the Giants secured en route to winning it all.
Predictably - for those who believe in the club's tendencies in odd- and even-numbered years -- the Giants could not defend their World Series title, finishing second in the National League West with an 84-78 record. Due to numerous injuries and third baseman Casey McGehee's ineffectiveness, manager Bruce Bochy's projected Opening Day lineup played exactly one game together.
Yet, San Francisco's season featured considerable individual achievement. Madison Bumgarner followed up nicely on his 2014 World Series heroics, finishing 18-9 with a 2.93 ERA. He and his batterymate, Buster Posey, made the National League All-Star team, along with shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik. It was another banner year for the bullpen as right-hander Santiago Casilla amassed 38 saves and left-hander Javier Lopez limited opponents to a .145 batting average. Crawford became the first Giant to win the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the same season since Barry Bonds in 1997. Matt Duffy supplanted McGehee as the regular third baseman in May and proceeded to hit .295, good for a second-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. Duffy also won the Willie Mac Award as the team's most inspirational player, an honor never before bestowed upon a rookie.
Other rookies also excelled. Right-hander Chris Heston no-hit the Mets on June 9 for one of his 12 wins. Outfielder Jarrett Parker sustained a late-season hitting binge that included a three-homer outburst at Oakland on Sept. 26.
But injuries undermined these and other accomplishments. Right fielder Hunter Pence went on the disabled list three times and was limited to 52 games. When Pence was healthy enough to start, the Giants went 35-17. Other Giants missing considerable playing time included Panik, outfielders Nori Aoki and Angel Pagan, right-handers Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, catchers Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez, first baseman Brandon Belt, right-hander Tim Lincecum and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.
An odd season ended the Giants' stretch of success in even-numbered years. After winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014, they reached the postseason for the 12th time since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. But erratic offense and a faulty bullpen prevented the Giants from returning to the Fall Classic. The story of this year's postseason was brief for the Giants, who won the Wild Card game at New York, 3-0, as Madison Bumgarner pitched a four-hitter and Conor Gillaspie homered in the ninth inning to account for all of the scoring. The Giants proceeded to lose the Division Series to the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs in four games. San Francisco dropped the final game in cruel yet fitting fashion. The Giants led, 5-2, entering the ninth inning. But their bullpen, which set a dubious franchise record with 30 regular-season blown saves, surrendered four runs.
Nevertheless, it was a fruitful year for many Giants. Led by Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, San Francisco's starters recorded a 3.71 ERA, fifth-best in the Majors. Bumgarner (15-9) made the All-Star team for the fourth consecutive season and struck out 251 batters, smashing the franchise record for left-handers set in 1898 by Cy Seymour. Cueto (18-5) started the All-Star Game for the NL and threw a league-high five complete games. San Francisco's pitching was supplemented by effective defense, as three members of its up-the-middle combination -- shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Joe Panik and catcher Buster Posey -- won Rawlings Gold Glove awards for defensive excellence. Crawford also drove in 84 runs, a team high, for the second year in a row.
Widely considered legitimate contenders entering the season, the Giants endured a surprisingly subpar year as they finished last in the NL West. The club's 64-98 record was its second-worst since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958, eclipsed only by 1985's infamous 62-100 finish -- the lone 100-loss season since the team's inception in 1883.
The Giants' problems were especially pronounced on the road, where their .321 winning percentage (26-55) was the Major Leagues' worst. Moreover, the Giants floundered against the teams they needed to beat the most, finishing 29-47 against their division rivals.
The Giants' defining moment didn't even occur on the field. It unfolded at a dirt-bike track outside of Denver on April 20, a scheduled off-day. Finishing a recreational spin, ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner lost control of his bike and sprained his throwing shoulder, besides bruising ribs. The four-time All-Star didn't pitch again until July 15. By then, the Giants' fate was sealed.
Every member of the Giants' Opening Day lineup spent time on the disabled list, exacerbating Bumgarner's injury. Lacking continuity and depth, the Giants floundered offensively. They ranked last in the Majors in homers (128) and slugging (.380). They finished next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309) and were 23rd in batting average (.249).
Catcher Buster Posey quite literally provided the season's silver lining, batting .320 to win the Silver Slugger award as the league's outstanding offensive performer at his position. Shortstop Brandon Crawford continued to strengthen his reputation for defensive excellence by winning his third consecutive Gold Glove award.