Now the dust has settled a bit on the Giants World Series title, there’s been a chance to appreciate the turnaround of their higher paid player. When they signed Barry Zito to a 7 year, $126 million contract prior to the 2007 season I’m sure they envisaged him starting the first game of the World Series for a championship winning side and, one way or another, they now got to that point.
What makes Zito’s role in the Giants’ success all the more incredible is that, as many will remember, the left hander was left off of all three playoff rosters during the team’s postseason run in 2010. That year Zito was coming off of a mediocre, although not dreadful, year that saw him post a 4.15 ERA over 33 starts and his omission from the playoff roster came as no surprise. This year Zito was coming off of a mediocre. although not dreadful, year that saw him post a 4.15 ERA over 32 starts and was kept on the playoff roster. Clearly the differing construction of those two Giants teams played a part but once included Zito earned the spot by his Game One performance in the Fall Classic.
Zito took the ball in Game One this October and tossed 5 2/3 innings of one run ball to set the Giants up for what would eventually be a World Series sweep. He also slightly belied his reputation as one of baseball’s worst hitting pitchers but adding a two-out RBI single off of Justin Verlander for good measure. He may have got his ring and World Series share in 2010, but it was pleasing to see a pitcher like Zito, who’s so enjoyable to watch when he’s ‘on’, momentarily set aside his decline over the last several years and play a key role in bringing another championship to San Francisco.