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Archive for November 5th, 2010

Only days after being awarded the World Series MVP, Edgar Renteria was given a pink slip (Photo: AP).

When the Giants announced that they would not be picking up Edgar Renteria’s $9.5 million option for 2011, he became the second consecutive World Series MVP to find himself looking for work in the offseason. Although Renteria’s postseason heroics definitely put the Giants in an awkward position, the decision to cut him loose was really a no-brainer. It’s not easy being an unlikely hero with a lucrative team option.

Considering the performance of the Giants’ pitching staff, the selection of Renteria as World Series MVP has to qualify as one of the biggest surprises in the history of the award. So, with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the most improbable World Series heroes.

(Note: The World Series MVP award originated in 1955 and was originally voted upon by the editors of Sport magazine. In addition to a trophy, the honor also included a new car, which was a serious financial consideration in the era before large contracts. Today, the World Series MVP is voted upon by a larger pool of media members and officials, and includes a charitable contribution).

Edgar Renteria: 2010 World Series (Giants over Rangers, 4 games to 1)

2010 PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
World Series 18 6 2 6 .412 .444 .765
Reg. Season 267 26 3 22 .276 .332 .707

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Background

At his best, no one would think twice about Edgar Renteria winning a World Series MVP. In his prime, he was a solid defensive SS with speed and an above average bat for the position. He also was the author of a walk-off World Series winning hit in 1997 as well as a strong .333/.412/.533 effort in the 2004 Fall Classic. In 2010, however, Renteria was coming off two awful seasons and by August had lost his job. Because of the poor defense of Pablo Sandoval, the Giants reinstalled Renteria at shortstop in the NLCS, but his offense showed no signs of a rejuvenation. Against the Phillies, Renteria hit .063/.118/.063 in 18 plate appearances. So, if the Rangers still don’t realize what hit them, you can easily see why.

Key Moments

Game 1: Solo HR in the bottom of the fifth, breaking a scoreless tie in a pitchers’ duel between Matt Cain and C.J. Wilson.
Game 5: Three-run HR in the top of the seventh against Cliff Lee. The blast provided the Giants with their only runs in the clincher.

 

David Eckstein: 2006 World Series (Cardinals over Tigers, 4 games to 1)

2006 PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
World Series 23 3 0 4 .364 .391 .500
Reg. Season 552 68 2 23 .292 .350 .344

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Background

Scott Brosius celebrates game 3 HR off Trevor Hoffman in 1998 World Series.

Because of his size and less than impressive raw talent, most people in the baseball world doubted David Eckstein over his entire career. So, it really shouldn’t be a surprise to see him show up on a list like this. Still, despite having a very solid season in 2005, Eckstein’s 2006 campaign was more in line with the two disappointing years that ended his Angels’ career. What’s more, his production over the first two rounds of the playoffs was a less than inspiring .195/.244/.293. Nonetheless, with all eyes trained on the monstrous Albert Pujols, it was the diminutive Eckstein who took home the hardware. It should be noted, however, that with the Cardinals’ having a team OPS of .675 and no standout pitching performance in the series, Eckstein really won the MVP by default.

Key Moment

Game 4: Run scoring double in the eighth inning against hard throwing Joel Zumaya that provided margin of victory.

  

Scott Brosius: 1998 World Series (Yankees over Padres, 4 games to 0)

1998 PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
World Series 17 3 2 6 .471 .471 .824
Reg. Season 603 86 19 98 .300 .371 .472

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Background

In 1997, Scott Brosius had an OPS+ of 53 and WAR of -0.8, so when the Yankees acquired him in the offseason, it had many followers of the team scratching their heads. The Yankees must have seen something in Brosius because he responded with an outstanding campaign in the Yankees’ record setting 114-48 regular season. He also hit very well in both prior rounds of the playoffs, so his presence on this list really stems from the depths of his previous season as well as his presence in a lineup chock full of stars.

Key Moment

Game 3: Already trailing 2-0 in the series, the Padres had to win game three at home. So, when the first sign of trouble hit in the eighth inning, Bruce Boche immediately went to Trevor Hoffman, his dominant closer who had 53 saves in the regular season. After an out and a walk, Brosius sent a 2-2 changeup over the wall in center, catapulting the Yankees into the lead and setting the stage for a series sweep.

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