The Giants wouldn't have won three World Series last decade without clutch moments from unexpected sources.
Juan Uribe's first postseason home run in a half-decade sent San Francisco to the 2010 World Series. Edgar Renteria, who only received regular-season MVP votes of any kind twice in his career, was the World Series MVP that year. Barry Zito went from free-agent zero to playoff hero with a pair of influential performances on the mound in 2012. Travis Ishikawa hit an NLCS-winning, walk-off home run in 2014, six months after he was designated for assignment.
But only one instantly became an iconic villain to an opposing fan base.
NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman made the case Tuesday that Cody Ross is the biggest villain in Philadelphia Phillies history because of his 2010 NLCS MVP-winning performance.
"In all, Ross hit .350 in the series, going 7 for 20 with three doubles, three homers and five RBI," Seidman wrote. "His Giants teammates hit one home run in 181 at-bats. Ross slugged .950 in that series. His teammates slugged .282."
For reference, Ross slashed .288/.354/.466 with three home runs and seven RBI in 33 regular-season games with the Giants. Ross also had more doubles, dingers and RBI in the NLCS than he did in the NLDS and World Series combined, as the outfielder batted .258 against Atlanta and the Texas Rangers that postseason.
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While Ross' dominance at the plate caught the Phillies off guard, his power shouldn't have. Ross hit more regular-season homers against Philadelphia (14) than any other opponent and more dingers at the Phillies' ballpark (eight) than any other opponent's home. He hit all three of his playoff home runs against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
Of course, two of those home runs were against the late Roy Halladay. Halladay had pitched a no-hitter in his lone NLDS start, and Ross was just 3-for-16 in his career -- with zero extra-base hits -- at that point against the eventual Baseball Hall of Famer. So, Ross changed his approach.
"I had tried everything against this guy," Ross recalled in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman earlier this month. "I tried to hit it the other way, stay up the middle, hit the ball on the ground, with zero success. I finally said, 'I’m going to go up there and try to hit a home run and see what happens.' Sure enough, first at-bat, wham! Home run. I’m running around the bases thinking, 'Did that really happen?' I felt like I was running on clouds. Next at-bat, he threw the same pitch in almost the exact same spot and I almost hit it to the exact same spot."
Those Phillies had won the World Series two years prior and the pennant the year before. Philadelphia hasn't made an NLCS since, nor a postseason appearance since 2011. The 2010 and 2011 Phillies won the most and fourth-most games in franchise history, respectively.
But strange things happen in MLB's postseason, and Ross' Ruth-ian performance crystalizes that fact. That won't make him any less loathed in the City of Brotherly Love, though.