2010 will always be remembered as “The Year of the Pitcher.” It had been eight years since the infamous BALCO steroid scandal and Major League Baseball was rigorously cracking down on the use of performance enhancers. Testing was becoming more stringent and suspensions were elongated. Cup sizes were growing back to normal size and random injuries that were previously never an issue weresuddenly occurring. Steroid cycles were now history and it resulted in MLBs pendulum swinging in favor of the pitchers. Performance enhancers eliminated recovery time for hitters, which is crucial in a 162-game season. Without that advantage hitters were now showing fatigue, a human trait. Pitchers maintained their high level of play while hitters struggled to adjust to the post-BALCO MLB. This all resulted in “The Year of the Pitcher” in which there were six no-hitters, the most since 1991. And an infamous blown call by umpire Jim Joyce on the last out of Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game that would have made it seven no-hitters (that call is still very sketchy, it was a very clearly out and I do not understand how a “professional” umpire can get it wrong). With that said, the top five teams in 2010 are all pitching dominated teams. Here is my list of the Top 5 teams in 2010:
5 The Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays surprised everybody by winning the always tough American League East. They also had the best record in the AL (96-66). The young Rays were led by hot-shot manager Joe Maddon (a true players coach who is very likable and well-respected) and a group of young prodigies.That group was led by third baseman Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Matt Garza and David Price. Although the Rays had a deep pitching staff they lacked depth on offense and experience which ended up being their downfall. The Rays were eliminated by the eventual AL Champion Rangers in five games.
4 The New York Yankees
Those damned Yankees seem to be on every top five list! Money talks and BS walks. As usual, the Yankees maintained the highest payroll in the MLB. Their offense was second to none with the likes of Derek Jeter leading them. They also had A-Rod, Jorge Posada (the guy who looks like David Schwimmer), Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Mark Texiera; all of whom would be the top hitter on most teams. The problem here was pitching. After sweeping the Minnesota Twins with relative ease the offense was kept quiet by the superior Rangers pitching staff. After ace CC Sabathia, the Yankees pitching did not have much more to offer. Mariano Rivera always closed the games successfully but they had problems handing him the ball with a lead against the Rangers. They lost simply because the Rangers had better pitching.
3 Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies had the best offense in the National League in 2010 and had Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay anchoring their pitching staff. Halladay threw two no-hitters in 2010. The second one was a perfect game in the playoffs against the Cincinnati Reds, the first time a perfect game had been thrown in the playoffs since 1956. Their pitching staff also included stars Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay. The Phillies had the second best staff in the NL, behind the champion Giants. The Phillies fell to those Giants in game six of the National League Championship Series falling just short of reaching the World Series, where many expected them to be.
2 Texas Rangers
In 2010, the Rangers made a huge splash right before the trading deadline when they acquired ace pitcher Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers were already the best team in the American League West and many believed they were the team to beat prior to the trade. They bolstered their pitching staff dramatically with the move and instantly became the favorites to win it all.They had arguably the best offense in baseball with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and company and now their pitching had depth and was also arguably the one of the best in baseball with Rich Harden, Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson backing Lee. After eliminating the Rays they took out the Yankees in six games before running into a hot Giants team. The Giants’ pitching proved to be better and their small-ball style combined with clutch hitting proved to be too much for the 2010 Rangers.
1 San Francisco Giants
The Giants won the National League West with a record of 92-70 but not many expected them to get past the Phillies, who sported the best record in baseball (97-65) and swept the Reds in dominating fashion in the first round. But pitching prevailed and carried them all the way to the championship for their first title since moving to San Francisco. The staff was led by Tim Lincecum, a flame-throwing young stoner with shaggy hair and a wildly deceptive delivery. He was backed by another ace, Matt Cain. Cain had a cannon for an arm and did not allow one run in the postseason. The third pitcher was a young stud, rookie Madison Bumgarner. Closer Brian Wilson was always there at the end of games, throwing heat with his crazy antics and black beard. The offense was led by 2010 Rookie of the Year Buster Posey who exploded on to the scene and carried his team offensively. Cody Ross had an unforgettable postseason smashing five home runs and many at critical times. The 2010 Giants were a team that relied on their dominating pitching and timely hitting.
“The Year of the Pitcher” marked a turning point for the MLB. Pitching was once again winning games and championships. Small-ball resurfaced and teams were manufacturing runs with bunts and sacrifices. Waiting for a big Home Run was no longer a successful way of winning games. The game of Baseball was now officially post-steroids. Thank you 2010!