Following a Kick return for a Touchdown by Desmond Howard in a game between Michigan and Ohio State during the 1991 season, notable commentator Keith Jackson uttered the words “Hello Heisman” as Howard did the Heisman pose in the Michigan Stadium end zone. With that in mind, I wanted to use a similar variation of that line for current San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy “Hello Hall-of-Fame. With the Giants winning their second championship in the past 3 years, manager Bruce Bochy has proven to be one of the best postseason in-game managers in baseball since he started managing during the 1995.
Bochy, a former catcher, started his managerial career during the 1995 season with the San Diego Padres where he spent the last 4 seasons of his playing career. During his tenure as manager of the Padres, Bochy finished in first place 4 times and in 1998 he led the Padres to the World Series for the first time since 1984 when Bochy was a player on that team. However, following the 2006 season, with new management taking over their front office, San Diego decided they wanted to go in another direction so Bochy decided to move up the California coast to another member of the NL West; the San Francisco Giants. In San Francisco, Bochy’s first season was surrounded by a number of significant events in the 2007 All-Star Game being played in San Francisco along with Barry Bonds quest for Hank Aaron’s Home Run record of 755. Following the 2007 season, the Giants decided to go in a different direction as they allowed Bonds to move on and instead decided to build their roster around pitching and defense. The new direction seemed to fit more of Bochy’s style that he managed with in San Diego.
So with that, the Giants decided to build through the draft, (Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey were all former 1st Round Picks) add a few under the radar free agents, (Aubry Huff, Gregor Blanco, and Ryan Vogelsong), along with making a couple of quiet, but effective trades (Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro, ) to help add to the depth on their roster.
So what make’s Bruce Bochy such a great manager? Two Reasons:
1. Unlike other teams, the Giants don’t have a great deal of offensive star-power: The Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series, and during both Championship runs had to go through 6 different teams that featured a number of elite offensive players in their lineups. Going back to the 2010 Playoffs, the Giants faced the Braves (Chipper Jones (1999 MVP), Brian McCann (2010 All-Star Game MVP), Martin Prado) Phillies (Ryan Howard (2006 MVP), Jimmy Rollins (2007 MVP), Chase Utley, Shane Victoriano, Jayson Werth), and Rangers (Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton (2010 MVP), Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler) and during the 2012 Playoffs they faced the Reds (Joey Votto (2010 MVP), Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs), Cardinals (Carlos Beltran (9th Most Postseason Home Runs), David Freese (2011 NLCS and World Series MVP), Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday), and the Tigers (Miguel Cabrera (2012 Triple Crown Winner), Prince Fielder (2011 All-Star Game MVP), Austin Jackson, Jhonny Peralta). Not that the Giants didn’t trot out a number of solid hitters (Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Scutaro, Pence) but the Giants hitters don’t have the star power that the other teams they faced feature.
2. Bochy and the Giants aren’t afraid to make bold moves in the Playoffs: The majority of managers wouldn’t ever think of ever making some of the moves that the Bochy and the Giants front office made over the past 3 seasons. Once again, I want to go back and look at the Giants 2010 Season and then move forward to some of the decisions they made during the 2012 season. During their 2010 Playoff Run, the Giants decided to trade starting catcher (and former World Series Champion (2002)) Bengie Molina to the Rangers for a minor prospects. This move was made so the Giants could have top prospect (at that time) Buster Posey start at catcher and Aubry Huff move to first base. Posey went onto win the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award and became the face of the Giants offense. An additional key move the Giants decided to make during their first World Series run was putting Pablo Sandoval and Aaron Rowand on the bench during the Playoffs along with having former Cy-Young Award winner Barry Zito (the highest paid player on their roster) not apart Playoff roster. Finally, following a game 3 loss to the Rangers, Manager Bruce Bochy decided to change-up his lineup by moving Aubry Huff to DH and added Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz to their lineup. It seemed that at every significant time during the 2010 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy was making all the correct calls throughout these crucial moments.
As for the 2012 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy and the Giants once again showed why they are on top of and prepared for any situation that comes their way. Bochy’s problems started at the beginning of the season when on April 15th, 3-Time All-Star Closer Brian Wilson was forced to miss the remainder of the season with Tommy John Surgery. With Wilson on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the Giants were forced to go with a closer by committee situation which included Santiago Casilla (25), Sergio Romo (14) , and Javier Lopez (7). In addition to that, San Francisco also saw the division rival Dodgers acquiring a number of significant players throughout June, July and August to help bolster their lineup and rotation. To the Giants credit, they didn’t panic and instead made a few key under the radar trades in acquiring Colorado Rockies infielder Marco Scutaro and Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence. Just 15 days after the MLB Trade Deadline, All-Star Game MVP (and at the time NL Batting Leader) Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The Giants already featured a lack of depth in their outfield and with this occurring. it made it that much more important that the Giants traded for Pence at the deadline.
Once the Playoffs started, even with all his struggles throughout the 2012 season, most people felt that 2-Time Cy-Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum (2008 and 2009) would stay in the rotation for the entirety of the MLB Playoffs. That wasn’t the case as Lincecum only started 1 game during the 2012 MLB Playoffs (NLCS Game 4) and instead the Giants decided to use him out of the bullpen where he worked 13 innings while only giving up 1 run. With Lincecum out of the rotation, and 2010 Postseason hero Cody Ross in Boston, the Giants needed for two people to step up and fill their spots. Ironically it was the 2 players that were little used during the Giants 2010 Championship run: Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito. During the 2012 NLCS, the Giants need Zito to step up and win a crucial game 5 so the series would be sent back to San Francisco. Fortunately for the Giants, Zito delivered as he threw 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball sending the series back to the Bay Area. So what about the hitter that stepped up, it was Pablo “the Panda” Sandoval who had the second most hits in a single Post Season (24) and joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols in hitting 3 Home Runs in a World Series Game. With Zito’s dominant pitching, Sandoval’s hot bat, and a team that refused to give up (down 2-0 to the Reds; won 3 straight in Cincinnati and down 3-1 to the Cardinals; won 3 straight games vs he defending World Champs), the Giants used these three aspects to bring another Championship to the City by the Bay. In my opinion, both the 2010 and 2012 MLB Playoffs showed why Bruce Bochy is one of the best in-game managers of all time and why he’s deserves to be considered a future Hall-of-Fame Manager.
Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/