Welcome to the opening season of the Second Act in The House That Steroids Built: the First Act started with Barry Bonds in the 1990s, and the Third Act arguably began with the hiring of Gabe Kapler as the team’s manager before the 2020 season after his failed managerial stint with an All-Star roster in Philadelphia. We don’t even want to comment on future acts.
The San Francisco Giants learned with Bonds that they could cheat, profit from it, and not be punished by MLB for their sins. So, why would they ever have stopped? It paid off in 2010 with the organization’s first Wold Series title in 1954. Reality was the Giants had been an utter failure in the City by the Bay, making the postseason just 4 times (1962, 1971, 1987, 1989) between the move west and the First Act with Bonds in the starring role. Go figure.
Bud Selig, the faux MLB commissioner back then, knew the Bay was a goldmine, and he looked the other way as the Giants tapped into it. Despite the overwhelming success of the Oakland Athletics in California (4 World Series titles, 10 division titles, etc.), the attendance in the East Bay was rarely impressive—there is no “there” there, after all. Credit Selig’s business acumen, but scorn his ethics and morals—and those of the Giants ownership group in the 1990s and beyond, not to mention the pathetic fans.
This season was the affirmation and payoff for the ownership group that they were doing the “right” thing. Shame on them all.
Exhibit A: Aubrey Huff
Never mind his recent fall from grace for being an idiot: Huff was a washed-up ballplayer when he arrived in San Francisco at age 33. The prior season, he posted a .241 batting average and a .694 OPS spitting time with the Baltimore Orioles (.725 OPS in 110 games) and the Detroit Tigers (.567 OPS in 40 games). Why would the Giants have even pursued a guy with a career -10.1 dWAR mark at that point, anyway? Because they knew he was desperate to save his career, probably.
Well, you know how this goes … Huff re-discovered his swing in The House That Steroids Built, stroking to a .290 average and an .891 OPS in a ballpark that was not friendly to hitters not taking PEDs, especially washed-up guys at age 33. And despite never being in the postseason, he somehow hit a passable .268 in October to help the Giants beat the vastly superior Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series, as the Phillies were going for a third-straight NL pennant.
Huff strangely regressed to a .676 OPS in 2011 and a .608 OPS in 2012 before being released and watching his career come to an end. But his purpose was served: At age 34, maybe his body just decided it had had enough—just like it already had at age 32. But for this one miraculous season at age 33, Huff was an MVP candidate and helped the S.F. organization finally win a World Series.
Exhibit B: Pat Burrell
This is literally a carbon copy of the Huff case: Burrell posted a .682 OPS at age 32 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2009, and for the first 24 games of the 2010 season with the Devil Rays, he was even worse (.625 OPS) at age 33. So, of course, the Giants decided to grab him in his (and their) desperation. Burrell responded the same as Huff, for over the final 96 games of the season in San Francisco, he miraculously realized he still could hit to the tune of an .872 OPS in The House That Steroids Built.
The odds of a team in need—the Giants were just 40-37 at the end of June—rescuing two washed-up players, both aged 33, at the same time and pulling off the same turnarounds is absolutely nil. We also will remind you that the Giants hitting coach was Hensley Meulens, a career .220 hitter himself in 182 MLB games. This wasn’t Ted Williams teaching these two old frauds how to rediscover their swings at age 33; it was someone who couldn’t make the grade in the 1990s. Hmmm.
Both these examples firmly established a routine these Bruce Bochy teams would go through for the next decade. We remind everyone again that Bochy managed Ken Caminiti in 1996 when he won the NL MVP on massive amounts of steroids that all but killed him eventually. Bochy was an enabler of PED use, even before he came to the Giants organization.
Exhibit C: Andres Torres
Yeah, we barely remember him, either. But Torres is another case in point for the argument we’ve proven here, time and time again: After being out of the majors since 2005 after being terrible in short stints with Detroit (81 games, .595 OPS) and Texas (8 games, .401 OPS), the Giants rescued him in his early 30s, and he posted career-best marks that defied logic and prognostication by statistical experts. Amazing how the S.F. organization could identify his hidden talents after all those years in the shadows!
The 2010 season was the first full MLB season Torres ever played, and he was 32 years old. His .823 OPS was much higher than his overall career mark (.699), and he set personal bests in almost every offensive category: 16 HRs, 63 RBI, 26 SBs, 56 BBs. Also, after posting just 0.1 dWAR in his career prior to this season, he somehow pulled a 1.6 dWAR out of his glove during the 2010 season. And yes, PEDs—not necessarily steroids at this point, either—can make you better on defense.
When Torres slipped back to normalcy at age 33 in 2011 to the tune of a .643 OPS, the Giants shipped him off to the New York Mets for Ángel Pagán. The .664 OPS Torres put up in the Big Apple fits his profile, but San Francisco even tried to bring back him back the following season (2013) at age 35, and he again struggled (.644). And that was his career. Strange how often this happens with Giants reclamation projects, huh? Certainly, it can’t be a pattern or a coincidence, right? Right.
Exhibit D: Jonathan Sánchez
This guy … well, he was always a mediocre talent. But in his age-27 season (2010), he finally put it together, posting a 3.07 ERA for the Giants in a career-high 193 1/3 innings. Before this season, with San Francisco, he’d posted seasonal ERAs that were frightening (4.95 in 2006, 5.88 in 2007, 5.01 in 2008, and 4.24 in 2009). The Giants held on to him … why? He had a high K rate, but clearly they saw something they could, ahem, work with somewhere in the whopping WHIPs (1.550 in 2006, 1.635 in 2007, 1.449 in 2008, and 1.365 in 2009).
We would buy the argument that this was just Sánchez hitting his peak in 2010, except for the fact he immediately declined right after this season, posting a 4.26 ERA in 2011 with S.F., an 8.07 ERA in 2012 with Kansas City and Colorado, and an 11.85 ERA in 2013 with Pittsburgh—which was his last season in the majors. It’s almost as if the Giants knew something no one else did about this guy’s training regimen, and they shipped him off to Kansas City in 2012 when his value was most high—just like Torres.
And again, the single season he was any good resulted in a World Series title for San Francisco. Did its coaching staff suddenly forget how to coach Sánchez in 2011? That “excellent coaching” garbage always collapses in most of these cases when the player falls off a cliff after being so good randomly and out of nowhere, which is the case for all four of these guys.
Conclusion: Damning examples of funny business by the Bay
The irony is that it took a historic collapse by the San Diego Padres to even get these Giants into the postseason, and even then, the S.F. team almost blew it themselves in the final weekend of the regular season. Sometimes “destiny” works that way, though. And the mythos began … just like that.
Here is the truth, though: These players experienced random and totally unpredictable seasons above and beyond the norm, and it continues to fit the deceitful and fraudulent patterns we’ve established here for the last few months. You’d have to be a fool to buy into it, and you’d have to be willfully ignorant to look the other way in the fact of so much circumstantial and repetitious evidence.
We are not fools, and we are not ignorant. Welcome to our world.