The San Francisco Giants surprised the game yet again this past fall by making an improbable October run to capture their second title in the past three seasons. The first of which was even more unlikely than the latter when a young pitching staff coupled with a patchwork lineup managed to best the powerhouse Texas Rangers and take home the 2010 championship, the first in their history on the West Coast.
The season prior marked San Fran’s first .500 season since 2004. The club consisted of a fearsome 1-2 punch, a steady bullpen and an above-average third baseman; and not much more. The Giants managed to hang around for the first few months and remain competitive with a rag-tag offense and a shaky back end of their rotation. That was until the infusion of their two top prospects.
On May 29th, GM Brian Sabean called up their top catching prospect, Buster Posey, to hopefully ignite an offense that had lacked a star bat since the retirement of Barry Bonds. That night, the Giants crushed the powerful Arizona Diamondback 12-1 at AT&T Park. Posey had three hits and a trio of RBIs to match, and from then on, the San Francisco Giants became a force to be reckoned with in the NL West.
One month later, top-pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner, was promoted to the big leagues. After a rough first start against the Redsox, the top pitching prospect found his stride, finishing off the year with an even 3.00 ERA and 3.31 SO/BB ratio. Now paired with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain as well s a flourishing Jonathon Sanchez, the Giants had a rotation that would make any team cringe at the sight of.
Armed with their two young talents, San Francisco went on to become a key contender in a pennant race, capturing the division crown from the San Diego Padres on the last day of the season. Bumgarner handed the Giants a win just three days prior to make the clinching number just one. On October 3rd, the Giants squeezed into the postseason by besting the Padres 3-0, in part due to a home run in the eighth inning off the bat of their rookie sensation, Buster Posey.
The rest is history, as the “island of misfit toys” –as they called themselves–went on to win the World Series, very much due to the contributions of their two young rookies.
Do these 2010 Giants remind you of the current New York Mets? Does the idea of a young catcher and starting pitcher making a significant impact on the big club midseason sound at all familiar? Well, it should.
The run differentials pretty much say it all. These were two very similar teams up until the All-Star Break, where each went in opposite directions. The difference is the Giants had an infusion of an all-star quality bat in the lineup and arm in the rotation to put them over the edge; The Mets didn’t.
The Mets were 46-40 at the break last season, and the 2010 Giants were 47-41. Both teams had a solid rotation and an underwhelming offense outside their third baseman. The Mets lost Dillon Gee and Johan Santana to injury and David Wright became mired in a slump, and with no one to replace them, they foundered. The Giants stayed healthy and added depth with their two top prospects coming in and making an huge impact.
Now entering a season with a similar situation, could Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud be the Mets Posey and Bumgarner? Could the emergence of another young pair of battery mates breath life into another team and give the fans some excitement down the stretch come September?
Why not? Both are expected to come up around mid-season and are putting on a show this spring. Both have a fiery, competitive nature and want to win. With so much talent given up to acquire both of these young phenoms, why not expect them to deliver sooner rather than later? Are Mets fans so entrenched in expecting to be let down that they forget this franchise’s hallowed motto of “Ya Gotta’ Believe!”?
Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud have given us reason to believe about the future, but why not look at the recent past to have faith in the here and now? In the present?
In the 2013 New York Mets?