Instead of surging past Colorado and San Diego to win the National League West and posting an impressive 11-4 postseason record, San Francisco easily could have dissolved in instability. First baseman Aubrey Huff and shortstop Edgar Renteria were the only Giants to start Game 1 of the World Series at the same position they played on Opening Day. And Renteria started only 62 regular-season games, while Huff started 57 at the outfield corners. No wonder Bochy used 126 different lineups during the regular season.
Yet the Giants still thrived, due largely to Bochy's ability to solve his Rubik's Cube of a roster.
"He's been making great decisions all year," outfielder Cody Ross said. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be here. He made great call after great call after great call. Sometimes you look at it and you go, 'Whoa.' Then it works out and you're like, 'He knows what he's doing.' He's been doing it for a long time and he's one of the winningest managers in the league. He's fun to play for, that's for sure."
Some of the veterans who lost playing time during the season, such as Renteria and center fielder Aaron Rowand, might disagree with Ross' last statement. By refraining from complaining publicly, such players demonstrated their maturity. That also reflected a measure of respect for Bochy, the individual most directly responsible for the team's welfare.
"We're winning, so obviously he's doing a good job," Rowand said during the postseason. "I have a tough time rating managerial moves, but what he has done has worked out."
Bochy steadfastly refused to accept credit during the Giants' march to their first World Series win since 1954. A manager, he believes, is only as good as his players.
"It's not me, believe me," said Bochy, who has managed the Giants for four years after spending 12 seasons steering the Padres. "It's these guys. I can't say enough about how they accepted some roles. I'm sure guys who were used to playing every day weren't happy with me. But they stayed ready, and they had one thing on their mind, and that was to do this. That's what it took, because we did change some things. But it's not going to work unless they buy into it, and they did."
General manager Brian Sabean took a different perspective, crediting Bochy and his staff for handling the roster adroitly.
"There was a lot of creative genius along the way by those guys," Sabean said amid the wildly celebrating Giants after their 3-1 victory Monday night in Game 5 over Texas.
As is the case in any walk of life, attitude bolstered the Giants' performance. Bochy contributed by remaining relentlessly positive, in his understated way.
"I think part of what has to happen is you've got to believe with your team when you start out that you can do this," Bochy said. "It's not what other people think. It's what you think. I've had other teams, too, that I thought could get there. We didn't quite make it, but I certainly felt like that with this team, with this [pitching] staff this spring, that if we played the type of ball that we're capable of playing, we could get to postseason."
Once that happened, Bochy's expert use of his bullpen and reserves gained nationwide attention. He became the Albert Einstein of double-switches, though he had been executing the same moves all year. But more people noticed when Javier Lopez limited left-handed batters to one hit in 13 at-bats. Or when Juan Uribe, a substitute in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to beat Philadelphia.
"I'm happy for them when they go out there and get the job done," Bochy said. "But as far as me changing, I haven't changed anything."