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Looking back at Giants' best moments from memorable 2021

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November has been a quiet month for the Giants in recent years, and not just because they've stayed away from early free agent splashes. When you're sitting at or near the bottom of the division, you're not going to get a lot of love during awards season, but that all changed in 2021.

Farhan Zaidi was selected as the game's top executive and Gabe Kapler was named NL Manager of the Year. Buster Posey retired and then kept adding to an overflowing trophy room, and Brandon Crawford got back into the Gold Glove game. Crawford had the best MVP finish by a Giant in nearly a decade and Kevin Gausman was listed on plenty of Cy Young ballots. 

That's life when you win 107 games, particularly when you shocked the entire baseball world in the process. 

The season ended on a sour note, but 2021 was one of the best overall years the franchise has ever had. On the final Giants Talk Podcast of the year, we broke down the highs and lows -- with a heavy emphasis on the highs. You can listen to all of our "best of" choices here, but here's a sneak preview of our choices:

Biggest Surprise

Alex Pavlovic: How good the rotation was

Cole Kuiper: LaMonte Wade Jr. becoming a late-innings demigod

 

Heading into the season, it wasn't hard to see how the rotation could end up being the weak link of the roster. Logan Webb was coming off a 5.47 ERA, Gausman needed to prove his first year in orange and black wasn't a fluke, and Zaidi and Scott Harris filled their rotation with one pitcher who had been hurt most of the previous two years (Alex Wood) and another who pitched his way out of Cincinnati's rotation in 2020 (Anthony DeSclafani). It all added up to ... the third-best rotation ERA in the big leagues. 

Wade was added in another under-the-radar deal and quickly became Late Night LaMonte. He was a ridiculous 16-for-28 with 14 RBI in the ninth inning or extras. 

Best Quote

Alex: The entire Brandon Belt press conference after he became The Captain

Cole: Mauricio Dubon explaining how there were no pricks in the clubhouse

Best Random Memory

Alex: Mustache May

Cole: Posey's huge smile as he scored on Cody Bellinger's throwing error

Worst Moment

Alex: Belt gets hurt

Cole: Wilmer didn't go

These are related in a way, as the Giants might not have been in need of a big hit in the ninth inning of Game 5 had Belt been healthy. The pitch that hit him on a bunt attempt in Colorado was a huge blow to the lineup and ultimately ended Belt's season. The Flores check-swing call is one that will be remembered for years to come, although the Braves certainly helped take some of the sting away in the next round. 

Best Moment

Alex: All of Game 1 of the NLDS

Cole: Webb's homer during Game 162

With apologies to Mike Tauchman, an exciting deadline day, Gausman's sac fly, Jean Segura's 200th double and all of the other memorable moments, two stood out to us and they came back-to-back. The first playoff game at Oracle Park since the 2016 disaster went about as well as it could have. Posey nearly homered into McCovey Cove in the first inning and Kris Bryant and Crawford added blasts.

On the other side, Webb loudly announced his presence on a national stage by striking out 10 in 7 2/3 shutout innings and rookie Camilo Doval calmly closed it out in the ninth. 

RELATED: Five Giants prospects who raised their stock in 2021 season

Webb was also Cole's choice because of his all-around performance in his previous start. He dominated on the mound but also hit his first career homer in what might have been the franchise's final regular season game without a DH. It's a feat Webb had been chasing all season long, and it gave him bragging rights over his co-ace:

For more of our "Best of 2021," check out this week's Giants Talk Podcast. 

 

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