Thursday, October 30, 2014

Game 7: Bumgarner's Herocis and A Little on Gordon's Stopping at Third

About the only thing left to discuss after last nights win by the Giants in Game 7 is where Madison Bumgarner's World Series heroics put him the pantheon of greatness. Well, he is currently a legend, especially in San Francisco. For the record, he was the winning pitcher in three of the Giants four victories. He threw a complete game shutout in Game 5 and then came back with five scoreless relief innings to close out Game 7. Bumgarner threw 21 innings in all, gave up one earned run, nine hits, and one walk. His WHIP was .476.

So, that's an all-time great performance you say? It certainly is, but somewhat surprisingly to me at least, is that it is not unprecedented. In fact, SI's Cliff Corcoran (with valid reasons) ranks Bumgarner's series only 5th among all-time great World Series pitching performances. And he doesn't even mention Mickey Lolich's 1968 performance, which is the one that immediately came to mind for me - as it was the most recent and both Bumgarner and Lolich are lefties.

Upon further review Bob Gibson may be the best comparison. Gibson's 1967 performance is rated above Bumgarner's, and Gibson, like Bumgarner was great in multiple World Series. He went 7-2 with nine complete games and an ERA below 2. Bumgarner is currently 4-0 in 5 starts (and one memorable relief appearance) with a 0.25 ERA in three World Series. It's certainly good company to be mentioned with Gibson - probably better than Lolich.

It will be interesting to see how Bumgarner bounces back next year after throwing close to 270 innings this year (including last night's outing  [what, was it 70 pitches on 2 days rest?]), after never before topping out at more than 225 innings. The multiple-round postseason would seem to put a bit more variable stress on pitchers than when Gibson and Lolich were pitching - those guys went the distance every game in the Series but topped out at 27 extra innings per year. Bumgarner threw over 50 postseason innings this year.

Although, check this out - Lolich, who is not in the Hall of Fame, threw more than 300 innings four years in a row- topping out at 376 when Billy Martin was his manager in 1971. Of course, somewhere in that stretch he lost it. Let's assume the Giants are going to be smarter with Bumgarner.

Could Gordon have scored?
Other big question that came up last night was could Alex Gordon have scored on his hit in the bottom of the ninth that went past Giants' CF Gregor Blanco? Watching it live, it certainly seemed like a possibility - and with a hobbled Salvador Perez coming up next (not to mention the Royals reputation for aggressive baserunning), it crossed my mind that the Royals should have at least forced Giants to make a play at the plate. However, this article on Deadspin contradicts my theory and explains why Gordon would have been out by a mile.

Somewhere in my mind, I'm still skeptical. I think I need to see the Zapruder film on the play before I render my final judgement.

Great season and great series.

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