Joaquin Arias made a name for himself all season long by filling in for Pablo Sandoval at third base and spelling rookie Brandon Crawford at shortstop. Both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference rate his contributions as worth 1.0 WAR. The former Rangers utility man made one of the biggest plays of the year when he completed Matt Cain's perfect game with a long throw from "deep third" (as Kuip called it) to get the ball to first and nail down the final out. B-R lists his closet comp ('similar batters through age 27') as Freddy Sanchez! In the playoffs he had his biggest day in Game Four at Cincinnati, roping two doubles and scoring two runs after a 4th inning double-switch with B-Craw (and Tim Lincecum). He saw action as a pinch-hitter in Game One (9th inning single and run scored), at short at the end of Game Three, and again at short in Game Four of the LCS. Otherwise he was Pablo's final inning defensive replacement at third base (eight games including the final seven). He handled all his chances (four putouts, one assist) flawlessly. The versatile right-hander from Santo Domingo is arb-eligible for the first time. I expect he'll be back in the same role in 2013.
Ryan Theriot carved out a spot for himself in all-time Giants lore by starting what proved to be the winning rally in Game Four of the World Series and scoring the go-ahead and ultimately winning run. His wild, car-wreck slide and ecstatic celebratory howl will forever be etched in our collective memories. The former Cubs shortstop was a 3rd-round pick from LSU but escaped from Chicago in a trade with the Dodgers in 2010 and then struck baseball gold via another trade with the 2011 world champion Cardinals. He signed with the Giants as a free agent this spring and I called him "Freddy Sanchez insurance." Sure enough, he was the everyday second baseman until the arrival of Marco Scutaro. Theriot was 0-2 as a pinch-hitter in the LDS, but worked a walk in Game One of the LCS in the same role. His other big moment was as a replacement in Game Two for Scutaro after the infamous Matt Holliday rolling tackle finally forced Marco to the bench. Ryan drove in two in the 8th with a line-drive single to make it a 7-1 lead and seal the deal for Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants. He had another pinch-hit RBI single in the 8th inning in Game Six as well. His final pinch-hitting opportunity came in Game Two of the Series but Drew Smyly struck him out. In Game Four he was the DH for the only time in his career, and delivered his biggest hit ever in his final at-bat. Phil Coke had struck out the previous seven batters he had faced before that single. The class clown of the Giants clubhouse was now the hero. (Good story by Baggs here.)