We know MLB is fine with cheating, as the sport’s continued financial dance with the Houston Astros goes on after their cheating scandal. But this is not the first time the game has looked the other way while a team cheats and cheats again on the way to winning significant hardware. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the 2012 San Francisco Giants!
Yes, The House That Steroids Built in the early 2000s never really stopped producing suspect performances, because MLB never cracked down of the S.F. organization at all for letting Barry Bonds cheat his way into the record books … while the team continued to profit from it at the ticket gate and on the television airwaves. Without severe consequences, people just do not change their bad behaviors all that often.
Exhibit A: Buster Posey
Yes, we already looked at the Giants golden boy and his suspect performance in 2021, but this is where we really started to recognize something was a amiss with his squeaky clean reputation. Consider the reality that in 2011, Posey suffered a catastrophic injury, with many experts calling it a career-ending situation.
Prior to this moment, as well, Posey really wasn’t that great of a player, despite somehow winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Award after playing well for only a single month in that season. Up to the injury in 2011, Posey was posting just a .756 OPS, and the one month that won him so much fame—July 2010—was clearly an anomaly in his short career, already.
His monthly OPS marks for his career to this point were .630 (June 2010), 1.165 (July 2010), .754 (August 2010), .818 (September 2010), .693 (2010 postseason), .747 (April 2010), and .765 (May 2011). Yet somehow Posey came back from that horrible injury to post a .957 OPS over a whole season … a mark he would never come close to again in his career until 2021, actually.
It stands out like a sore thumb in his stat line, and we all know that when commoners like ourselves break bones, we get some pretty good medicine from the doctor. We can guarantee Posey got better stuff than we would, too, and combined with the anomaly of his 2012 stat line in his career, it’s pretty obvious what was going on in San Francisco, making his 2012 NL MVP Award highly suspect in process. Posey was an accomplished hitter coming out of college, but the stat lines don’t lie: This was too wrong.
Exhibit B: Melky Cabrera
In a twist of supreme irony, this is the guy who MLB decided to bust for PEDs in 2012. We always suspect it was necessary for MLB to do something in the post-Bonds era to show it was serious about curtailing The House That Steroids Built and its illicit actions. Cabrera took the fall for the for organization, perhaps, even though there really was nothing suspicious about his stat lines and seemingly natural career improvements for his age prior to his coming to San Francisco.
After 2010, both the New York Yankees (.716 OPS in 569 games) and the Atlanta Braves (.671 OPS in 147 games) had cut ties with Cabrera for being a mediocre hitter. He was only 26 years old, however, when he posted his best career season with the Kansas City Royals in 2011: an .809 OPS represented a modest improvement from his prior career highs (.752 in both 2006 and 2009 with the Yankees). There’s nothing seemingly unnatural there, really.
With the Giants in 2012, however, Cabrera suddenly was hitting .346 through 113 games, posting a .906 OPS along the way, in one of the worst ballparks for hitters in MLB. His walk rate is what really increased the most, along with his batting average, although his power numbers did have a bit of a boost as well. We don’t doubt his guilt, simply because of the scandal that ensued afterward. But S.F. surely wasn’t going to stop one of its players from cheating … we do know that.
Exhibit C: Marco Scutaro
This is one of the most sad case studies for us in this whole Giants charade, as we used to have a lot of respect for this grinder after watching his career path go through five teams before he ended up in The House That Steroids Built. His story was a great one, and alas, it turned out to be too good to be true. Perhaps Scutaro should be Exhibit A in this week’s entry, but … then again, maybe not, since Posey’s case study is pretty glaringly bad, too.
To wit: Scutaro was a 36-year old journeyman middle infielder when the Giants traded for him in July 2012. Nothing about his 95 games in Colorado—the best hitters’ park in the sport—that season gave any suggestion he would be anything positive for the S.F. roster, as Scutaro was hitting .271 with a .684 OPS in Coors Field. At his age, he was clearly on the downturn, as his two prior seasons with the Red Sox (2010 and 2011 at ages 34 and 35) produced just a .744 OPS. He was no Fenway Fraud.
Even if the Giants wanted him just for his defense (not likely considering his -0.3 dWAR with the Rox) and veteran leadership, they were getting zero with the bat. But lo and behold, Scutaro found the Fountain of Youth next to McCovey Cove and began to hit in San Francisco like he’d never hit before in his entire 11-year career up to that point: a .362 batting average and an .859 OPS, all at age 36. Sound familiar? It should by now, because it absolutely strains credulity under the circumstances … again.
His .789 career-best OPS came in Toronto during the 2009 season when Scutaro was 33 years old, and he had gone downhill since then. But like so many other players we have seen, he posted his best OPS with the Giants at the age-old end to his nondescript career. Throw in the laughable postseason numbers he produced, too, in 2012, and it’s clear that S.F. replaced Melky with another guy willing to play along with the charade in the City by the Bay. Shame on you, Scutaro … shame and eternal shame.
For the record, that postseason he hit .328 overall, won the NLCS MVP Award, and improved his career postseason batting average from .185 to .286 overall … at age 36. Scutaro was laughably named an All Star—for the only time in his career—in 2013 by his own manager, Bruce Bochy, clearly as a thank-you present for his willingness to go along with the organizational flow. Absolutely disgusting, if you ask us.
Conclusion: Blatant fraud at its worst
Remember, as we demonstrated, this was one of the worst teams to win the World Series in recent years, and without the contributions of Posey, Cabrera, and Scutaro, this team would not even have been in the postseason. Posey’s MVP season has always stood out like a sore thumb statistically, and Scutaro’s magical transformation at an advanced age reeked of something fishy as well. But it continued this “plucky” narrative the Giants have successfully sold to their fan base under Bochy’s mediocre tenure.
When we write a piece like this, we think of the fans in Detroit, for example, who were robbed perhaps of a World Series title by the cheating Giants. We think of the Cincinnati Reds, who lost to San Francisco in the NL Division Series, or the St. Louis Cardinals who lost to Scutaro’s unrivaled restoration to heights hitherto unknown in the NL Championship Series.
Former MLB outfielder Doug Glanville said it best a few years ago: Cheating players and teams literally stole money from honest people’s pockets, whether that was players as he sees it or fans as we see it, too. And there is no excuse for that when it comes to anyone who supports the S.F. organization from within or without.