In every baseball game, the winning team relies on contributions from a number of different players. Wednesday's Game Seven of the World Series was no exception. In the top of the fourth, Pablo Sandoval's smart baserunning—he tagged and advanced to third on a fly ball to left—put him in position to score on Michael Morse's broken-bat single to right. In the bottom half of that inning, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, and Brandon Belt completed a gorgeous double play to stem a possible Royals rally. Jeremy Affeldt replaced Tim Hudson in the 2nd and threw two and a third innings of scoreless relief, earning the win. Each of these factors played a role in the victory that gave the Giants their third championship in the last five years.
But let's not kid ourselves. The main reason the Giants won the game—and the World Series—was because they had Madison Bumgarner and the Kansas City Royals did not.
The 25-year-old left-hander, pitching on two days' rest, threw five scoreless innings of relief as the Giants defeated the Royals 3-2. For Bumgarner, presented the MVP award in one of history's least controversial decisions, the outing completed what was arguably the greatest playoff pitching performance of all time. In 52 innings—a record for a single postseason—Bumgarner compiled an ERA of 1.03, allowing 28 hits and walking six while striking out 45. In 36 innings spread across the 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series, Bumgarner allowed exactly one run—a Salvador Perez solo home run in Game One of this year's Fall Classic.