When Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner arrived for good in San Francisco during the first half of the 2010 season, no one could have foreseen what would unfold over the next five seasons, and how the pair would become integral parts of a trio of trips to the World Series with the Giants.
Come Tuesday in Kansas City (4:30 p.m. PT air time/8:07 first pitch, on FOX), the Giants' catcher and their Game 1 ace will be playing in the World Series for the third time in the first five full seasons of their Major League careers, having won two rings already. They're two of nine players in the Giants' clubhouse who were there for the club's first two runs to the World Series, and Posey -- who grew up watching the Braves' run of playoff teams -- says it's definitely something to savor as the team heads for a third.
"You understand that even if you do make it to the playoffs, it's difficult to get to this point," Posey said Saturday as the Giants held a workout at AT&T Park to prepare for Tuesday's Game 1. "It's something that's special. You have to appreciate it and enjoy it while you're there."
What sets Posey and Bumgarner apart from their teammates, and so many other players in the long history of the Fall Classic, is the frequency at which they have reached the game's pinnacle to start their careers. Teammates Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and injured Matt Cain had been around years before this run began, while Pablo Sandoval and Sergio Romo had a year-plus head start on the battery. Posey and Bumgarner, both first-round Draft picks, have been in the World Series from the get-go.
"These guys having the chance to do it for a third time in their first five or six [full] years in the league is really something that's unprecedented, and it's really fun to watch," said Lopez, who has a fourth World Series appearance under his belt with the 2007 Red Sox. "We've seen a lot of guys grow up quick."
You don't have to explain the significance of going 3-for-your-first-5 full seasons to 39-year-old Tim Hudson, finally making his first trip to the game's pinnacle.
"It's awesome for them to be able to experience it that often," Hudson said. "Obviously, with my experience, it's something I've searched for and waited all 16 years. It's not that easy. You have to have a lot of luck and a lot of good players. To be on a team that has that much success that often, that doesn't happen all the time, especially nowadays, with so much parity in this game."
Over time, there have been many players who have gotten to the World Series three of their first five full seasons, or perhaps done even better. But Posey and Bumgarner are the first to do it in more than a decade.
A few of the players who have gone 3-for-5 or better in reaching the World Series once they joined their clubs full-time:
Core Four: The last group of players to achieve such World Series success in the first five full seasons of their careers was the Yankees' foursome of homegrown talent: Derek Jeter (4/5), Andy Pettitte (3/5), Jorge Posada (4/5) and Mariano Rivera (3/5).
Tomahawk Chops: The last NL team before this Giants run to reach the World Series three times in a span of five seasons (1995-99), the Braves went there five times in nine seasons. But only Chipper Jones and Mark Wohlers managed to play in at least three World Series in their first five full seasons.
Yankees and Co.: Among the Yankees dynasties, Yogi Berra won four in his first five full seasons; Joe DiMaggio started his career out with four straight rings; Hank Bauer went 5-for-5; and the list goes on and on. Babe Ruth also won three World Series titles in his first four full seasons -- with the Red Sox in 1915-19. Stan Musial won three World Series rings his first five full seasons (1942-46), and then never returned to the game's greatest stage.
What's in store for the Giants' dynamic duo and the rest of those players taking a third run at a World Series ring remains to be seen. But those fortunate enough to be there again know it's a rare treat.
"This doesn't happen that often," Lopez said. "Tim Hudson's an example of that."
Of course, the Giants still have work to do. The Royals await in Kansas City, so the focus will have to be on Game 1, and then Game 2 (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. PT air time/8:07 first pitch, on FOX) after that.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy says these players should take some time eventually to consider just how special this run is.
"This isn't easy to get here," Bochy said. "You saw how we had to go through a Wild Card Game, then go through two very good teams. It's pretty amazing, really, how difficult it is to get here. Hudson's had a great career and never been here. That shows you how tough it is.
"I don't think they're thinking about it now, but my hope is this winter that they do sit back and think, 'Wow, five years, and we've been to the Series three times.'"
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.