On Sunday night, the San Francisco Giants lived up to their name by defying the heady predictions of bookmakers and completing a four-games-to-none sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the 108th World Series. The Tigers — who boast ace starter Justin Verlander and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera — were heavily favored against the Giants' no-name roster, particularly after the San Francisco squad spent the better part of the postseason on the brink of elimination. Last night's victory — which implausibly delivered the Giants their second World Series title in just three years — also marks the first time that San Francisco has swept a Series since a 1954 trouncing of the Cleveland Indians. How did the Giants earn such a decisive victory against the Tigers? Here, three theories:
1. Pablo Sandoval was at his slugging best
Look no further than Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, says Ronald Bloom at the Associated Press. Over the Series' four games, Sandoval — who had just 12 regular season home runs — hit a stellar .500 with three home runs, a double, and four RBIs in 16 at-bats. Those three home runs came in a single game, tying a World Series record.
2. Bruce Bochy is a mastermind
The Giants played well, says Dayn Perry at CBS Sports, but the importance of the brilliant tactical decisions made by manager Bruce Bochy can't be overstated. Bochy's numerous risky moves – from leaving Game 4 starting pitcher Matt Cain in for a dubious seventh inning to rather puzzlingly naming the "nearly forgotten" Ryan Theriot the designated hitter — all paid off handsomely. "Charmed life or insights we can't grasp? Whatever the case, Bochy could do no wrong." Now the "former catcher with a languid mien will be further acknowledged as one of baseball's elite tacticians," says Andrew Kew at The New York Times.
3. The Tigers completely blew it
The Giants earned their victory, but few expected the Tigers to "provide such little resistance," says Jerry Crasnick at ESPN. Coming off an incredibly impressive sweep of the once-fearsome New York Yankees, the Tigers could barely muster any offense against the Giants, hitting just .159 as a team, leading for only three of the series' 37 innings, and scoring a pathetically measly six runs — "the third-lowest output by an American League team in World Series history." Indeed, says Danny Knobler at Baseball Insider, "the Giants pitched so well (and the Tigers hit so poorly) that there wasn't even a good game in the series until the final one."