Nobody's really sure just how the Giants won this World Series, but perhaps some clues reside in the past. It turns out that great pitching and timely hitting are common threads woven by the teams that pulled off the Top 10 World Series upsets. — Adrian Hasenmayer
2003: Marlins over Yankees, 4-2
Money doesn't always buy rings. In '03, the Marlins were used to beating the odds, starting the season 16-22 and firing their manager in favor of Jack McKeon (pictured) ... only to finish with baseball's best record the rest of the way. They then stung the Cubs in the NLCS (thanks, Bartman), coming from down 3-games-to-1. Then Florida's young $54 million payroll faced the big, bad Yankees ($164 million payroll). No big whoop, as the Marlins made McKeon the oldest skipper ever to win a Series title.
1987: Twins over Cardinals, 4-3
Nobody gave the 85-win Twins much of a chance, as they faced the NL champion Cardinals, 95-game winners making their third World Series trip in six years. The Twins even entered as the first World Series team to have been outscored in the regular season. But they had an incredible home-field advantage, which they utilized in winning all four games at the Metrodome before the Homer Hanky waving crowd in the first-ever Series celebrated indoors.
1954: N.Y. Giants over Indians, 4-0
Despite the Giants having won 97 games to take the NL pennant, the Series seemed a given to go to the Indians, winners of a then AL-record 111 games. But the league's second-highest scoring offense went dead in the Series, with Cleveland hitting just .190 in the four-games. The Series was best remembered for Willie Mays' stunning over-the-head catch off the bat of Vic Wertz in Game 1, plus the clutch pinch-hitting of Dusty Rhodes (pictured), who went 4-for-6 with 2 HR and 7 RBI.
2006: Cardinals over Tigers, 4-1
The pitching-rich Tigers (AL-best 4.17 ERA) entered the 2006 Series as heavy favorites over the 83-win Cardinals ... yes, 83 wins and in the World Series (thank you, Mr. Selig's wild card). But veteran manager Jim Leyland couldn't solve the Tigers' big-stage yips as a series of throwing errors by their pitching staff doomed Detroit. No team's ever won a World Series with so few regular-season wins (though the Cards did win 105 games and an NL pennant just two seasons prior).
1990: Reds over A's, 4-0
Similar to this year's Giants, the '90 Reds were greater than the sum of their parts, with no 30-HR or 100-RBI hitter in the lineup. Facing the 103-win "Bash Brothers" from Oakland (making its third straight World Series appearance), the little Red Machine seemed overmatched. But the Reds had plenty of speed, pitching (the "Nasty Boys") and a fiery manager in Lou Piniella, unafraid of any team. They played out of their minds in one of the most surprising Series sweeps of all-time.
1969: Mets over Orioles, 4-1
There's a reason this team was dubbed "The Amazin' Mets." Nobody saw them coming. In fact, entering the eighth year of the franchise, the Mets had never won more than 73 games or finished higher than ninth out of 10 NL teams. But they caught fire the last six weeks, finishing 38-11 to end 100-62. After sweeping favored Atlanta in the first-ever NLCS, they faced the 109-win Orioles, chock full of Hall of Famers. But the Mets' pitching (including Nolan Ryan, pictured) dominated and shocked the world.
1906: White Sox over Cubs, 4-2
This crosstown Chicago Series matchup seemed like a waste of time, with the record-setting 116-win Cubs clearly the best team in baseball. They face the White Sox, known as "The Hitless Wonders" — a team with an AL-worst .230 batting average and 23 fewer wins than the Cubs. Living up (or down) to their nickname, the White Sox hit only .198 in the six games, but with the series tied 2-2 they ignited for 16 runs and 26 hits over the final two wins (despite nine errors vs. none for the Cubs).
1914: Braves over A's, 4-0
Talk about never giving up, the Boston Braves were in dead last in the NL on July 4 before flipping the switch and going 70-19 (.787) to finish the year ... 70-19!!! But they were still facing the powerful Philadelphia A's, winners of three of the previous four World Series behind manager/owner Connie Mack. Behind Hall of Famer Johnny Evers' (pictured, pointing) Series-high seven hits, the "Miracle Braves" swept the A's/The mercurial Mack reacted by selling and trading the majority of his roster.
1960: Pirates over Yankees, 4-3
Look at the final numbers in this series, then pick the winner: The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27, winning three games 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0. Yet this bizarre series saw the Pirates take down the Yankees (making their 10th Series trip in 12 years behing Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, etc.), as Pittsburgh won the close ones, winning its four games by seven total runs. The scintillating series ended on a shocking walkoff HR in the ninth by light-hitting 2B Bill Mazeroski.
1988: Dodgers over A's, 4-1
The Dodgers were definitely not the best team on paper, nowhere near it. The team hit just .248 during the season and had one true slugger in the lineup, intense veteran Kirk Gibson. With Gibson benched to injury and facing the 104-win A's, nobody gave them a shot. Trailing 4-3 in the ninth inning of Game 1, a Hollywood script came to life as a gimpy Gibson (in his only at-bat of the Series) smacked a game-winning HR to shock the A's, setting the tone for baseball's greatest upset. -- Adrian Hasenmayer