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The minor-league free agents who will help the Giants win the 2014 World Series


Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

It's an even year. This means that a random minor-league free agent will emerge out of the ashes and lead the Giants to the World Series. Over the last three years -- a sample size of over 1,700,000 hours -- the Giants have used at least one random minor-league free agent to win the World Series exactly two-thirds of the time. You can't argue with math.

We tried to do this last year with Guillermo Quiroz, and he failed us. It wasn't his fault; it was the tyranny of numerology. Even years, we're looking for. Even years, just like Robb Nen or Aubrey Huff. There's a power with those rounded, smooth, even numbers.

Let's look through the minor-league randoms, then, and pick the next Gregor Blanco and/or Andres Torres and/or Ryan Vogelsong. Because as Gauss said, "Once is a fluke, twice is a pattern, and thrice is pretty much a guarantee or something."


Mario Lisson
Claim to fame: Is hitting copious dingers in Venezula.

Minor-league stats: Not good. This is why he was available as a minor-league free agent.

Position and path to majors: Utility infielder (mostly third and short), which means his path is somewhat daunting. The Giants will have Joaquin Arias and Tony Abreu ahead of him on the 25-man roster, with Ehire Adrianza on the 40-man.

Chances he'll get a big hit in a World Series game: Probably 80 percent or so.


Jason Berken
Claim to fame: Had a 3.03 ERA in 62 big-league innings with the Orioles in 2010.

Minor-league stats: Very Ryan Sadowskian as a starter. Inconclusive as a reliever.

Position and path to the majors: He's probably a reliever, but he has starting experience over the last two seasons. There's always a Jean Machi -- a reliever you don't think about until you're thinking about him. Berken could be a Jean Machi.

Chances he'll pitch big innings in a World Series game: Probably 40 percent or so.


Brandon Hicks
Claim to fame: Once hit a game-tying home run of David Price that gave the A's a chance to win in 15 innings

Minor-league stats: Some power, but lousy plate discipline. Lotsa strikeouts, few walks.

Position and path to the majors: Similar to Lisson, except Hicks played more short last year.

Chances he'll get a big hit in a World Series game: About 90 percent, give or take.


Andrew Carignan
Claim to fame: Has 18 strikeouts in the majors, and they came against 17 different batters. The only player he's struck out twice is Jeff Francoeur.

Minor-league stats: Kind of crazy and hard to parse. He has strikeout stuff, but for most of his career, he threw like a blindfolded Dan Runzler. In 2011 and 2012, he suddenly found the strike zone in limited samples, but he was hurt in both seasons. Kind of a fascinating minor-league add.

Chances he'll pitch a big inning in a World Series game: About 98 percent


J.C. Gutierrez
Claim to fame: He gave up this homer to Angel Pagan:

He appeared in 28 games with the Angels last year, too. Gutierrez, not Pagan.

Minor-league stats: Limited as a reliever, though not really encouraging.

Position and path to the majors: He's a right-handed reliever. There's always a Machi.

Chances he'll pitch a big inning in a World Series game: You know, I'm not even sure if relievers count in the Blanco/Torres game. There's always a reliever who comes out of nowhere. But, to answer the question, about 95 percent.


Dontrelle Willis
Claim to fame: He was a teammate of Alex Hinshaw and Erick Threets last year. That's pretty much the only notable thing about his career.

Minor-league stats: Not … encouraging. But it's not like you aren't rooting for the guy.

Position and path to the majors: I wonder if the Giants will try him in relief. I always felt Kirk Rueter would have pitched for eight more years if he became a LOOGY. As is, though, Willis is a starter, and probably #43 on the depth chart, give or take.

Chances he'll pitch a big inning in a World Series game: Exactly 100 percent. It will seem totally normal at the time.

There you go. All of these players will probably help lead the Giants to a World Series. Especially Dontrelle Willis. If you're looking for the next Blanco/Torres/Vogelsong, there's at least a couple in there.