The 2012 Giants have little in common with the 2010 team that stole the hearts of San Francisco on The City’s first World Series championship since moving from New York.
Both teams were built on pitching, and much of the 2010 staff remains on the roster, but the offense is a stark contrast. The 2010 team was sixth in the National League in home runs, sparked by the midseason pickup of Pat Burrell, whose 18 long balls in 96 games with the Giants that year provided a big power surge.
This year’s home run total puts them at the bottom of the NL in that category, and the offense instead focuses on “keeping the line moving,” a phrase used by manager Bruce Bochy countless times during the season when describing the team’s approach at the plate. This year’s midseason spark plug, Marco Scutaro — picked up in a trade with the Colorado Rockies on July 28 — has embodied that philosophy perfectly, hitting .362 and striking out just 14 times in 243 at-bats since joining the team.
“He’s a professional hitter,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said of Scutaro. “He has an idea what he wants to do each at bat depending on who’s on the mound. He’s able to make adjustments. He’s fun to watch. He’s a guy I remember watching before I was here and always appreciated the way he played the game.”
The other big splash made by the Giants this season has applied a different sort of support since his arrival, however. Hunter Pence may have seen his batting average drop by 18 points since he came over from the Philadelphia Phillies, his hits have come when the team needed his power, and he’s collected 45 RBIs hitting behind Posey, the NL batting champion at .336.
“They’ve made such a huge difference in this ballclub,” Bochy said of Scutaro and Pence. “These two guys have made such an impact on our team and really helped turn us around. Once we acquired them, we’ve been a different club. Their energy, how they play they’re very professional in how they approach every game. It’s made this such a stronger lineup and I’m grateful that we have them.”
Their energy was needed to keep things going for a club that lost the league’s leading hitter for the remainder of the season when left fielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games beginning on Aug. 15 for testing positive for testosterone, a substance banned by Major League Baseball.
Many counted the Giants out of the NL West race after Cabrera was lost and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were tied with the Giants when the suspension was announced, made several high-profile trades to upgrade their offense. The Giants went 30-15 since then and haven’t looked back.
“I think this team takes it personally when people tell us we can’t do it,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “We do take that personally and we go out there and everybody steps up and plays together and it showed in our play.”
The way the team moved on from the loss of their All-Star outfielder, as well as multiple injuries to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, made Bochy’s decision to leave Cabrera off the playoff roster an easier one, even though Cabrera is eligible to return after the first five playoff games, should the Giants have that many.