Warning: .gif image heavy post lies ahead. If your computer can’t handle the sheer awesomeness of this post, well then, I’m sorry. You’ve been warned.
A lot of things went wrong for the Giants this year. Number one on most people’s list was the horrendous volume of injuries that the team suffered; losing Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez, and other key players for various stretches would take the wind out of anyone’s sails. Yet, for all the bad things that happened, the team was largely competitive — if not frustrating — and there was some good mixed in with the broken body parts, mangled shoulders, and the other terrible misfortunes.
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1. Romo’s slider
I mean, just look at that thing. Look at it.
When I think back on some of the best pitches that I’ve seen come out of a bullpen, any bullpen on any team, Romo’s slider is at the top of any list that I can come up with. Since Romo has come into the league it’s a pitch that he throws nearly 50% of the time and batters still can’t hit it. They know it’s coming, but they can’t touch it. That’s the definition of a plus-pitch.
When your pitch can do this to any major league hitter:
It’s a good one. I wanted to rename that .gif file to LOLBENTARMS.gif
2. Panda’s power
After a difficult and disappointing 2010 — one in which Sandoval lost 80 points of isolated-power from his ’09 season — there were major questions about Pablo Sandoval coming into 2011, namely if he would ever return as a power hitter. Thankfully for us, Sandoval proved that he could hit, and hit for power.
According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, that blast was measured at 393 feet. Though, to my naked eye it looks much farther. It’s one of the deepest home runs I’ve seen at Petco Park, landing just over the sandpit thing in CF. In 2011, Sandoval arguably had his best hitting season ever, even if it was in limited playing time due to a broken hamate bone. Sandoval was 42% better than the league average hitter, and he slugged 23 home runs in 466 plate appearances. Conditioning will most certainly always be an issue with Sandoval, but he proved that he can still hit, and for an offensively starved team like the Giants, that’s a big deal.
3. Madison Bumgarner’s everything
There’s not much more we can say about Madison Bumganer; dude is really good and really young. Here’s a .gif of Madison striking out the potential NL MVP, Matt Kemp.
The best part = Kemp’s face after he punches out, it’s a mix of grumble-grumble-grumble and ffffffffffff. Pitchers aren’t supposed to be this good and this young.
The best thing is that all the players we’ve talked about today are young-ish and controlled by the Giants for several more seasons. It’s a good core to build around. Things were tough this season, but it’s easy to forget that the Giants, for all the veteranitis that’s plagued the team, have a really nice core of young players to work around.