Andres Torres is one of those players that a fan base loves disproportionately to their stats.
A casual look at his career shows he was a journeyman minor leaguer with some cups of coffee in the big leagues before earning a starting job with the Giants while in his 30’s.
He had one good full season and followed that up with 3 nondescript seasons before seeing his career end in the minors.
Bring his name up among Giants fans and see them light up. Still a fan favorite at AT&T Park, he cemented his status of permanently loved Giant when they played on Halloween, 2010.
The Giants won a hotly contested NL West title over a surprising Padres squad. After beating Atlanta in the Division Series, they stunned the heavily favored two time defending NL Champion Phillies in the NLCS.
Bruce Bochy’s squad was filled with solid starting pitching, led by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and an outrageously deep bullpen, anchored by eccentric Brian Wilson. They would face the Rangers in a World Series of snake bitten franchises.
The Giants took the first two in San Francisco but Texas won Game 3. The fourth game was a showdown between two young pitchers who shone that regular season. Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter was 23 years old, had the best winning percentage in the American League after going 13-4 and threw to a 3.73 ERA. The Giants threw 21 year old rookie Madison Bumgarner. He would show up again in subsequent Octobers.
The Rangers hoped that with a win, they could hand the ball to Cliff Lee to get a 3-2 lead. The Giants knew a Game 4 win would mean handing the ball to Lincecum with a chance to clinch.
The Giants leadoff man was Andres Torres. He had been drafted back in 1998 by the Tigers but never caught on in Detroit. He played 19 games for the Tigers in 2002, 59 in 2003 and 3 in 2004 before making an 8 game cameo for Texas in 2005 and returning to the minors.
After bouncing around between the Twins, Cubs and Tigers again, Torres landed with the Giants in 2009 and stayed with the big league club for most of the season.
In 2010, he started 124 games, making the most of the playing time opened up with injuries to Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand. Torres won the Willie Mac Award, given to the Giant who showed the greatest leadership and spirit on the Giants. On a roster filled with beloved San Francisco stars, that was quite an honor.
The leadership, and more importantly the bat, of Torres was on display in the World Series. He led off Game 4 with a single and stole second. He would not score but he was setting the tone for the game.
He led off the third with a double and would score on Aubrey Huff’s homer. Meanwhile, Bumgarner held the Rangers scoreless inning after inning.
In the 7th, the score was still 2-0 Giants. A modest Texas rally would tie the game. With 2 outs in the top of the 7th and Edgar Renteria on first, Torres stepped up to the plate again.
He lined a double to centerfield on the second pitch and Renteria came all the way around to score. Now the Giants had a 3-0 lead. Bumgarner and Wilson would make it stand as the final was 4-0.
Torres final line was 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, a run scored and another knocked in. The Giants would clinch the next day. For the series, Torres batted .318 with an OPS of .984. Not bad for a career minor leaguer.
Eventually, Torres was dealt to the Mets for Angel Pagan, who would go on to become a World Champion Giant himself. Torres returned to San Francisco in 2013. He hasn’t played in the bigs since.
But he will always be a beloved World Champion Giant and his worth will go beyond the box score. That makes him the Unsung Post Season Hero for October 31.