If the Giants had the wherewithal to do so, general manager Brian Sabean probably would try and upgrade every spot in his lineup outside of catcher this season.
Buster Posey is a star and will be for a very long time to come. But the rest of the Giants are castoffs, misfits or aging players who happened to pick the right time to play well. On most nights, their lineup consisted of six or seven players other teams gave up on.
What the Giants had is pitching. Their staff had an earned run average of 2.47 in the World Series and struck out 121 in 126 innings. Texas scored one run over the final 21 innings of the Series and hit .190 for the five games. After winning Game 3, Texas advanced only two runners as far as second base.
“We play baseball with the understanding that the team that gives up the least amount of runs wins the game,” closer Brian Wilson said. “That’s the point of our team, pitching.”
Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner became the first homegrown rotation to pitch in the Series since the Red Sox started Bruce Hurst, Roger Clemens, Oil Can Boyd and Al Nipper against the Mets in 1986.
The Giants had a top-level closer (Wilson), an effective lefty (Javier Lopez) and enough righthanded set-up guys (Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Ramon Ramirez) to fill the gaps.
The Giants are not a lesson for the rest of baseball, however. Their patchwork lineup worked because the Padres faded in the NL West and the Dodgers were a mess. Try and get away with Cody Ross batting cleanup in the AL East and the likes of Juan Uribe at third base and you’ll be laughed at.
But the Giants are further evidence that the only way to win in the postseason is by pitching. For all the gaudy free agents out there, the best investment is rotation depth and bullpen options.
The Red Sox have the former in Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The bullpen obviously needs a lot of work. Scott Downs is probably more important to the Red Sox than any other player out there.
Finally, how about Edgar Renteria’s place in baseball history? At the age of 20, he won the 1997 Series with a walk-off hit for the Marlins. Playing for the Cardinals, he made the final out of the 2004 Series won by the Sox. Then came his three-run homer last night for the Giants.
Only Renteria, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra have had game-winning RBIs in two clinching World Series games. He had two homers in the Series, one more than he had all season. This from a player who had two at-bats in the division series.
Crazy happening for an unlikely champion. But when you have pitching, anything is possible.