As we continuing counting down the 60 seasons of San Francisco Giants baseball from worst to greatest, we have finally reached the winning seasons in our countdown.
40: [2008, 72-90, 4th NL West]
Okay, we have to get through one more losing season. What was the best losing season in the history of the San Francisco Giants, you ask? Easy. 2008.
The start of 2008 was one of the most depressing times in Giants’ history. Barry Bonds had left, and everybody expected the Giants to lose 100 games. It was a new era. Now, new eras aren’t bad, but new eras often begin with rebuilding, and 2008 was a rebuilding year.
The Giants had no starting third-baseman, so they signed Jose Castillo a week before Opening Day. Omar Vizquel was hurt, so the starting shortstop on Opening Day was a guy named Brian Bocock. Predictably, the Giants got off to a 1-6 start, but there some memorable moments early on. Bengie Molina gave the Giants their second win of the season with a walk-off home run, young outfielder John Bowker homered in each of his first two major league game and Tim Lincecum got off to an incredible start in his first full major league season.
The Giants were 12 games under .500 at 17-29 in the middle of May. The team wasn’t hitting, and Barry Zito, who was supposed to be the ace of the pitching staff, was relegated to the bullpen in the midst of an 0-8 start. However, there continued to be bright spots. The rebuild meant there was a much younger team, and a lot of the players on the team formed a very close bond in the clubhouse.
Tim Lincecum continued to dominate, and eccentric right-handed relief pitcher Brian Wilson began to establish himself as the Giants’ closer despite nerve-wrecking outings every time he came in. The National League West was weak, and thus the Giants were able to tease their fans into thinking they had a shot. The Giants excited their fans with a thrilling 5-2 win over the Dodgers on July 5 at AT&T Park.
The Giants had two more thrilling comeback wins against the Dodgers when they came back to town a month later. By August, the Giants had made a million roster changes, or at least it seemed they did. They called up switch-hitting catcher Pablo Sandoval, who impressed everybody on the spot with his unique way of playing the game. Sandoval was an incredible bad ball hitter with power, and the Giants did not want him to catch, so they moved him to third base.
The Giants went 72-90, but the attitude surrounding the organization was completely different than it was at the beginning of the season. They had a new stud third-baseman in Pablo Sandoval, and they had an incredible young pitching staff headed by Tim Lincecum, who ended up winning the National League Cy Young Award.
People believed the Giants had no future, but at the end of 2008, the Giants were a young team that was ready to contend in 2009.