“Even though we were morphing into different ball clubs from championship year to championship year, the mantra was the same: It was pitching, defense and timely, professional hitting,” said Brian Sabean, the general manager of those teams. “And the pitching side of things, that played into his hands.”
Stephen Vogt, the veteran catcher who joined the Giants this season, said Bochy seemed to have a left-hander and a right-hander warming up whenever a starter had reached about 85 pitches. Sabean — as Kevin Towers had done in San Diego — stocked the bullpen with varieties of arm angles and pitch types, and Bochy knew when to unleash them.
His playing days — largely spent warming up relievers — sharpened that instinct, but so did his relationships. Romo, who closed out the 2012 World Series in Detroit, called Bochy the “ultimate players’ manager,” always available to talk. Bochy was clearly the leader but treated players as peers, Romo said, which helped him match the pitcher to the situation.
“Incredible sense of feel,” Romo said. “He respected us enough to get to know us on every level.”
After winning a wild card in 2016, the Giants fell to 98 losses the next year and are likely to finish below .500 for the third season in a row. With a transition in the front office — Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations last November — Bochy said the time was right to retire and spend more time with his wife, Kim.
“She can see that the game does put a lot on you, maybe a little stress,” he said. “I’ve always said I don’t think it’s a game you should get stressed about, but the game can get you sometimes.”
Bochy said he would miss the strategy but mostly the players, because they keep him young and entertained. He will finish with a losing record — like the Hall of Fame managers Connie Mack and Bucky Harris — but said that he had learned more from losses than wins, and that players needed him more in losing seasons.
The record (2,000-2,024 through Friday) also reflects unwavering support from his bosses. Bochy has never been fired, and few, if any, of his teams could be judged as underachieving.