Game 162 has come and gone, ending the season of the reigning world champion San Francisco Giants.
While they missed the postseason by more than a handful of games, there were still several silver linings throughout the season to be happy about. Let’s list the top-10 here:READ MORE: Two Vehicle Accident Requires Extrication In South Lake Tahoe
10. Welcome to the Show
With the everyday lineup being hit with injuries, it opened up a lot of holes for Bochy to play some of the younger talent in big league games. We saw what happened to Joe Panik in 2014, this year it was Matt Duffy (more on him later), Kelby Tomlinson, Chris Heston and Pat Osich who have solidified themselves as big league talent. It’ll be fun to watch them play even more next season.
Speaking of rookies, 27-year-old Heston was a big help in the rotation this year after expecting to start in Sacramento. Once Matt Cain went back to the disabled list, Heston was the best starting pitcher on the team not named Madison Bumgarner. He finished the season in a slump, but with 2015 being the most he has ever pitched in a season it’s obvious he ran out of gas. His rookie numbers: 12-11, 3.95 ERA, 177.1 IP 141 Ks, 64 BB and one no-hitter.
8. Zito vs. Hudson
This match up was pretty special for being a meaningless game. With the A’s suffering from the offseason from last winter and the Giants dealing with injuries all year long, they both were down and out when it came to September. Luckily the Bay Area got to watch two of the most beloved baseball icons in Northern California duke it out for a couple innings. Giants fans won World Series’ with both these guys and A’s fans cheered them on when both pitchers were in their prime, ripping apart American League offenses.
7. Nori Aoki
The Japanese slap-style hitter was the lone free agent signing the Giants made in the offseason and it was mostly ignored. They didn’t know if they were getting the horrendous 2014 World Series Aoki or the one that can score runs and get on base. They got the latter and it was a perfect fit for both sides. Aoki dealt with concussion symptoms the last couple months and it ended his year on a sour note, but his 14 stolen bases lead the team and he did it in only 93 games. He should return next year for some excellent outfield depth.
6. Bumgarner being BumgarnerREAD MORE: Fatal Road Rage Accident Closes Portions Of Stockton Blvd In Sacramento
The Giants weren’t sure Bumgarner would continue being a dominant pitcher after throwing more than 270 innings last year. That kind of workload can kill young arms – luckily he showed no signs of slowing down. He played even better than last season. 18 wins, 2.93 ERA, 234 Ks, 39 walks and five home runs (he hit four last year). Bumgarner is aging like a fine wine – at just 26 years old, he is not even considered in his prime. The guy is just a beast.
Duffy had one hell of a rookie season. He will probably rank second in Rookie of the Year votes behind Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant. Duffy is a scrawny-looking guy who never hit a home run in four years of college baseball – he hit 12 this year as a Giant to go along with 77 runs batted in and a .295 batting average. Fun fact, Duffy had 12 stolen bases and was caught zero times. He also won the Willie Mac award, given each year to the Giant who was the most inspirational player on the team – he’s the first rookie to win it in over 35 years (By the way, Pablo Sandoval earned $17.6 million this year for -2.0 fWAR – worst in the league).
4. Goodbye Jeremy Affeldt
Affeldt is perhaps one of the best relievers the Giants franchise has ever had. People may disagree because his ERA wasn’t the lowest, he didn’t blow anyone away with his “stuff,” nor did he win many accolades as a Giant. He did, however, be the anchor and example of consistancy for the Giants bullpen through three World Series’ victories in five years. As much as Hudson will be missed, Affeldt was Bochy’s go-to guy for the last seven years. He had an incredible career and should be brought back to the Giants as a coach or TV analyst.
3. Brandon Crawford
The name says it all this year. Clearly one of the best offensive shortstops in the game with 21 home runs, 84 RBIs and a .782 OPS, Crawford has finally broken through as a power shortstop. This year, however, his defense will finally earn himself a well-deserved gold glove. Giants fans have known for years he is capable and deserving of a golden glove award, but his offense wasn’t good enough to attract the voters (don’t get me started how offense affects an award for defense…).
2. Buster Bash
Buster Posey was the same old Buster Posey – and that’s a great thing. He was healthy, consistent and had the best season of all catchers in the league. He didn’t hit 26 homers like Brian McCann or hit 33 doubles like Derek Norris, he led all catchers in hits (177), RBI (95), Avg./On-Base %/Slugging (.318/.379/.470) and he handled a broken pitching staff outside of Madison Bumgarner. He is the backbone to this team and he looks healthy and well-rested thanks to Bochy starting him at first base for the last month.
1. Panik no moreMORE NEWS: Husband Of 2020 Slain Manteca Woman Arrested For Murder
Yes, Joe Panik is hurt. Yes, he missed 62 games on the disabled list. Yes… I know this isn’t “No. 1 on the list” material, but hear me out. Panik played a remarkable rookie season – roughly 73 games regular season and 17 more in the postseason. There were doubts he could replicate his .300 batting average and stellar defense at second base. He played in 100 games this year and here are the numbers: .312 average, eight home runs (hit one last year), 37 RBIs, 27 doubles and a 3.3 WAR. He made the all-star game for crying out loud! They shut him down to end the season out of caution, but don’t be surprised if he improves even more next year.