As far as comment starters go, "What was the most surprising thing about the Giants winning the World Series?" is kind of a dud. The answer to that one is an objective truth: the most surprising thing about the Giants winning the World Series is that the Giants won the World Series.
It’s not that they weren’t a team with potential in the spring or a really good team in the fall; it’s just that they were the Giants. The Giants win World Series at the same rate that Arquettes win Fields Medals. David’s working on the Hodge conjecture, and Rosanna’s been working with the Navier-Toto equations, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. I wasn’t holding my breath on the Giants winning the World Series either.
So the better comment starter would be, "Other than the Giants actually winning the danged thing, what is the most surprising aspect of the Giants’ World Series run?"
It’s tempting to go with the emergence of Andres Torres, who transformed from a nifty fifth outfielder into one of the best center fielders in baseball. If Torres is just an above-average centerfielder in the National League – something every Giants fan would have been thrilled with before the season started – the Giants probably aren’t able to move past the Padres.
It probably isn’t Edgar Renteria going nuts in the World Series and winning the MVP, even though that certainly was ridiculously unexpected. But that’s baseball. In a five-game stretch in May, Aaron Rowand was the one going nuts with the game-winning home runs and extra-base hits. Maybe it’s extra surprising that it was Renteria in the World Series, but it shouldn’t be too surprising that it was somebody unexpected.
The Giants doing it without their most expensive player on the postseason roster? Nah. Replacing Barry Zito with Todd Wellemeyer or Joe Martinez for a full season probably would have cost the Giants the division, so Zito was valuable to the playoff run, but it wasn’t that big of a shock that he ended up being the fifth-most valuable starting pitcher on a very good staff. A lot was made of Zito missing the postseason roster, but the decision had more to do with the depth of the Giants’ starting pitching than it did a Zito meltdown. The late-season Zito meltdown didn’t exactly help his cause, of course, so it wasn’t too surprising.
Javier Lopez is not going to the Hall of Fame, which is a little surprising after watching his 25 innings of work with the Giants. Without Lopez, the Giants might not have won their 162 game against the Padres, they might not have been able to keep Jason Heyward in check in the NLDS, and they might not have been able to get past Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and the Phillies in the NLCS. Lopez went from averaging almost 1.5 base runners per inning with the Pirates to allowing -6.4 per inning with the Giants. And he just got Joey Votto to twitch just by whispering his name into a passing zephyr. Javier Lopez being good wasn’t a huge surprise. Javier Lopez lactating magic pitches was pretty unexpected.
Still, the most unexpected thing – the one thing that I just wouldn’t be able to comprehend if I were told about it in March – is that the Giants won the World Series without Pablo Sandoval doing much of anything. Any promise that carried over from last year had to do with the pitching staff and Pablo Sandoval. That was the base upon which any delusions of grandeur had to rest. If the Giants were going to make the playoffs, every scenario was based on the continued ridiculousness of the staff and Pablo. I just can’t, can’t, can’t wrap my mind around the idea that the 2010 San Francisco Giants won the World Series with Pablo Sandoval on the bench.
Also of note: The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series. The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series. The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series. The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series. Type it a few times. Feels good.