Beautiful day at Oracle Park (Photo: JP O’Donnell, Student at Montgomery High-School)
by Luke Shimer, Sports Editor
The San Francisco Giants exceptional season has come to a heartbreaking end with a 2-1 loss in game five of the National League Division Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to FanGraphs, the Giants entered the season with a 5.7% chance of making the playoffs, but they stunned the baseball world by emerging as the best team in Major League Baseball this season. With a record of 107-55, they topped the standings of not only their division but the entire MLB.
At the beginning of the season, no one thought the Giants would be this good and earn a franchise record in wins, but they exceeded everyone’s expectations being led by manager Gabe Kapler, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, and a well-rounded team behind them. With all-star pitcher Kevin Gausman leading the Giants in the first half of the season and breakout pitcher Logan Webb leading them in the second, a bullpen led by sidewinder Tyler Rodgers, closer Jake Mcgee, and rookie Camilo Doval it was hard for opposing teams to score in the later innings.
Fans were pleasantly surprised, too. Maria Carrillo High School junior Matt Anderson said, “Yes, they exceeded my expectations. They were way better than I thought they would and it really surprised me that we did better than the Dodgers.” The Giants really showed that even with a weaker team compared to others, they were still able to be the best.
The Giants’ 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, highlighted by a go-ahead ninth-inning RBI from Cody Bellinger, will go down as one of the most painful in franchise history. It is not just that one of the Dodgers’ worst hitters this season got the game-winning hit off their closer or that Giants first baseman Wilmer Flores had his bat snatched away by a brutal call on a check swing attempt to end the game. It is not just that the offense couldn’t deliver for starter Logan Webb or that the Giants could not close out the NLDS in Los Angeles despite a 2-1 series lead. There are numerous reasons why a season-ending loss to a rival will sting for years to come.The Giants and their fans truly believed the 2021 club was a team of destiny after a magical, unsuspecting ride to the top of the National League West. The check swing call on Flores may go down as one of the most controversial calls in playoff history. Anderson said, “I think it was bad, our season was robbed. The last call shouldn’t have been called and you can’t end a game on a check swing.” This brings up the question about replays, reviews, and overall umpiring. Some have suggested using a “robot” type machine for the pitching and real umps for the field. Anderson agrees with this suggestion saying, “Do robot umpires for balls and strikes, so more accurate noncontroversial calls can happen.”
When it comes to the offense this season not many people would think that the oldest guys on the team and in the MLB would lead the team. 34-year-old Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford, and 33-year-old Brandon Belt will already go down as Giants legends with the World Series win they obtained in 2012 and 2014. The 2010 World Series win was led by Buster Posey before the Brandon’s both joined the Giants a year later in 2011. Posey and Crawford had MVP caliber seasons and Belt led the Giants with 29 home runs but was unfortunately plagued with injuries. Posey, Crawford and Belt were able to lead the Giants to a record-breaking season thanks to a remarkable effort from a front office led by Zaidi and Scott Harris, who found contributors ranging from the clutch hero “Late-Night” LaMonte Wade Jr. to All-Star Kevin Gausman.
The key to the Giant’s success was not just their amazing pitching staff, but it was also the depth within the team. The way that Gabe Kapler managed the Giants was unique by setting the game’s lineup depending on the opposing pitcher being left or right-handed. This meant the team needed an array of left and right-handed batters which they got from Zaidi’s amazing off-season acquisitions. With multiple players being able to play many different positions and having enough depth to use this strategy it helped win the Giant’s many games.
The 2022 MLB season is already on the mind of Zaidi who wants to build their roster around pitcher Logan Webb. He still has a lot to think about when it comes to next season where there will be many crucial free agents like Belt and Gausman along with many more potentially leaving our team. Anderson predicts that the Giants do “Slightly worse, with a record of 101-61. I still think we’ll be good but I don’t think we’ll be as good as this year.” It is hard to say how good the Giants will do next season based on these free agents, but it is safe to say that Giants are in good hands for the seasons to come.