Through trades, free agency, waiver claims and minor league call-ups, the Giants' Brian Sabean (above, left) and the Rangers' Jon Daniels (right) added key pieces responsible for getting their teams to this point.
Looking at both teams' transactions from this season, here's a ranking of the five moves that had the greatest impact on the Giants and Rangers:
1. Rangers trade for Cliff Lee(notes): Daniels' acquisition of Lee from the Seattle Mariners significantly improved the Rangers' pitching staff, but it also changed the balance of power in the American League by keeping him from the New York Yankees.
Would the Rangers have beaten the Rays in the ALDS if Lee hadn't pitched Games 1 and 5? In those two starts, he compiled an ERA of 1.13. Lee had less of an impact in the ALCS, as he only pitched one game. But he'll be available for at least two starts in the World Series.
2. Giants call up Buster Posey(notes) from the minors: When Posey was recalled from Class AAA Fresno on May 29, San Francisco was three games above .500 and in third place, 2 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres. The lineup needed some thunder, and their rookie catcher provided it.
The 23-year-old Posey went on to hit .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs in 108 games, numbers that likely will earn him NL Rookie of the Year honors. With an impact hitter in the middle of their batting order, the Giants went 67-48 in their remaining 115 games.
Ross (right) went on to hit .288 in 33 games, leapfrogging the incumbent outfielders to become a major contributor. In the NLDS vs. Atlanta, he batted .286 with three RBIs. But Ross really broke out in the NLCS, with a .350 average, three home runs, three doubles and five RBIs. That performance earned him MVP honors. How's that waiver claim looking now?
4. Giants sign Pat Burrell(notes): As mentioned before, the Giants were in need of offense at the end of May. An outfielder with 267 career homers was available after the Rays designated Burrell for assignment. Burrell batted .202 in 24 games with Tampa Bay, looking as if he might be done as a full-time major leaguer. But returning to the NL rejuvenated his bat.
In 96 games with San Francisco, Burrell hit .266 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. Perhaps more importantly, he's become a clubhouse leader, setting an example for his teammates with his preparation.
5. Giants deal Molina to the Rangers: Both general managers get kudos for this July 1 transaction, of course. Posey's emergence had made Molina expendable, and Sabean needed to clear a spot on his roster to accommodate his star rookie. Daniels, meanwhile, needed more offense at catcher and a veteran backstop for his young pitching staff.
Molina only batted .245 in 57 games with Texas, but his presence ensured consistent performance and guidance at catcher. The acquisition never looked better than in Game 4 of the ALCS, when Molina hit the go-ahead homer off of the Yankees' A.J. Burnett(notes).
- Brian Sabean