Madison Bumgarner

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Madison Kyle Bumgarner

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Biographical Information[edit]


Madison Bumgarner, also known by his rodeo alias Mason Saunders, is a four-time National League All-Star and three-time World Series champion. He is the undisputed ERA king of World Series play, with a career mark of just 0.25 (!!!) in 36 innings, and set a postseason record with 52 2/3 innings in one postseason during his 2014 domination.

"MadBum" was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 2007 draft. He was signed by scout Pat Portugal and made his pro debut the next summer with the Augusta Greenjackets, going 15-3 to confirm his status as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. By the end of 2009, he had made his major league debut. He became nationally known during the 2010 World Series, when he pitched 8 scoreless innings in Game 4 against the Texas Rangers to help send the Giants on their way to their first championship since moving to San Francisco. He went 7-6, 3.00 in 18 starts as a rookie in 2010, being inserted in the Giants' starting rotation in mid-year. In 2011, he continued to establish himself as a future front-line starter, going 13-13, 3.21 and pitching 204 2/3 innings. He also struck out over 190 batters, something he would repeat the following two seasons as well. On April 16, 2012, the Giants signed Bumgarner to a five-year contract extension worth $35 million, with option years extending until 2019. He rewarded their confidence with a great season, going 16-11 with a 3.37 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 208 1/3 innings. However, he was roughed up in his first two outings of the postseason, losing 9-0 to the Cincinnati Reds in Game 2 of the NLDS and 6-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS. He looked so out of sorts that there was a question whether he would be used at all in the World Series, but he responded with a vintage performance in Game 2 on October 25th, giving up no runs on 2 hits while striking out 8 in 7 innings to earn the Giants' 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Bumgarner started 2013 where he left off the previous season, pitching 8 scoreless innings in which he gave up only two hits in his first start of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 2nd. Sergio Romo added a perfect 9th inning to complete a 3-0 combined shutout. On June 14th, he took a no-hitter into the 6th in a start against the Atlanta Braves, and ended up giving 2 hits and a walk while striking out 10 in 7 innings, combining with Sandy Rosario on a 6-0 shutout. He made the All-Star team for the first time and was the Giants' most consistent hurler, with Matt Cain struggling, Ryan Vogelsong injured and Tim Lincecum having an up-and-down year. He finished the year at 13-9, 2.77 in 31 starts and 201 1/3 innings. His ERA was fifth-best in the NL, while his 199 strikeouts placed him 9th. He was also among the league leaders for hits/9 innings (6.53, 3rd), WHIP (1.033, 5th) and K/9 innings (8.90, 7th).

As spring training got under way in 2014, manager Bruce Bochy named him his Opening day starter, the first time he received this honor. He was the National League Pitcher of the Month in May, when he went 5-0, 2.08 with 48 strikeouts in 39 innings. He improved to 8-3 on the year with his career-best 6th straight win on June 5th, 6-1, over the Cincinnati Reds. He ended the first half with a flourish, as both he and catcher Buster Posey hit grand slams in an 8-4 defeat of the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 13th. It was the first time that both members of a battery hit slams in the same game, and for Madison, it was his second of the year, making him only the second pitcher to have ever done so: Tony Cloninger hit two in the same game in 1966. The win meant he was 10-7 at the All-Star break; he was selected as a member of the NL squad in the 2014 All-Star Game, but had to give up his spot under the "Sunday Starter rule", with teammate Tim Hudson taking his place. On August 3rd, he pitched a beauty of a game, needing only 94 pitches to shut out the New York Mets, 9-0, on two hits. He had another dominating performance against the Colorado Rockies on August 26th: he retired the first 21 batters before allowing a double to Justin Morneau to lead off the 8th, then struck out the next three batters that inning and set down the last three men in order in the 9th for a one-hitter. He struck out 13 and walked none in earning his 15th win of the year, 3-0. He was once again named Pitcher of the Month for August, on the basis of a 4-1 record and 1.57 ERA. He finished the regular season with a record of 18-10, 2.98 in 33 starts, amassing 219 strikeouts in 217 1/3 innings, He was picked to start the National League Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on October 1st and came through with a brilliant performance, pitching a complete game four-hit shutout in which he struck out 10 and walked just one to lead the Giants to an 8-0 win. That was the start of a magnificent postseason run that saw him be named MVP of both the NLCS and of the World Series. In the latter, he won the opener, pitched a complete game shutout in Game 5 and pitched the last five innings with a one-run lead in Game 7 to earn the save and clinch the Giants' third championship in five years. To top off the year, he was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

On May 21, 2015, MadBum became the first pitcher to homer off Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the course of the Giants shutting out L.A., 4-0, improving to 5-2 with the win. He was named to the All-Star team for the third straight season and, on August 16th, he had a tremendous two-way performance as he shut out the Nationals, 5-0, in a three-hitter while striking out 14, matching a career high, and also doubled and homered (his 4th of the year) to improve to 14-6 on the year. With the Giants reeling from a number of injuries to position players, he was used as a pinch-hitter in key situations in back-to-back games against the Cardinals on August 18-19, singling to start a game-winning rally the first time and striking out in the 9th inning the next day. He hit his fifth homer of the year in his next start on August 21st, a two-run blast off Jeff Locke, in a 6-4 win over the Pirates, his 15th victory of the year. The five homers set a record for most in a season by a Giants pitcher and were the most by a major league pitcher since Carlos Zambrano hit six in 2006. As new teammate Marlon Byrd put it: "He can swing it. It's like having nine hitters up there when he's pitching." On September 12th, he was perfect until two men were out in the 8th inning when he allowed a single to pinch-hitter Melvin Upton of the San Diego Padres. He stayed in the game and completed a one-hitter to earn his 18th win of the year, 8-0, matching his career high for wins set the previous season. He finished the year at 18-9, 2.93, with 234 strikeouts in 218 1/3 innings.


On April 9, 2016, Bumgarner hit his second career homer off Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, giving him a total of 12 long balls in the majors. That tied him for the lead among active pitchers with Yovani Gallardo. However, Gallardo was now toiling in the American League, making it a lot harder for him to add to his total. Bumgarner even expressed in taking part in that year's Home Run Derby after it was pointed out that his rate of home runs per at-bat was comparable to the game's best sluggers. That did not go anywhere, but on June 30th, manager Bruce Bochy decided to eschew the use of the designated hitter in a road game against the Oakland Athletics, the first time this had been done deliberately since the 1976 Chicago White Sox let pitcher Ken Brett bat for himself a few times. The Giants' bench was shorthanded, especially when it came to right-handed batters, against lefty Dillon Overton, so there was some strategic value to the move. Bumgarner made Bochy look like a genius when he doubled in his first at-bat in the 3rd, sparking a six-run outburst as the Giants went on to win the game, 12-6. He ended the first half with a flourish; on the last day of games before the All-Star break on July 10th, he pitched a compete game one-hit shutout over the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-0, striking out 14 in the process. He had a no-hitter going until the 8th, when he gave up a single to Jake Lamb. He had been named to his fourth All-Star Game a few days earlier. On October 5th, he added another chapter to his already lengthy postseason resumé when he pitched a masterful complete game shutout in the Wild Card Game, defeating the New York Mets, 3-0, at Citi Field. The Giants could not continue their even-number World Series reign in the 2010s, and MadBum finished the year 15-9, 2.74 with a career best 251 strikeouts in 226 2/3 innings.

Tabbed as the Giants' Opening Day starter on April 2, 2017, he had a tremendous performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not only did he retire the first 16 batters he faced, he also homered twice, becoming the first pitcher ever to do so on Opening Day. Both homers were solo shots, the first off Zack Greinke in the 5th and the second off Andrew Chafin in the 7th. He left after 7 innings with a 4-3 lead, but four relievers were unable to close the win: Derek Law allowed the tying run in the bottom of the 8th, and after the Giants had taken the lead again in the 9th, Mark Melancon gave up a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to be charged with a 6-5 loss. On April 21st, he landed on the disabled list for the first time of his career, but not for anything related to pitching. While in Denver on an off-day, he "went dirt-biking" and separated his left shoulder, putting him on the shelf. He returned only on July 15th, by which time the Giants were completely out of the postseason race. He finished at 4-9, 3.32 in 17 starts and 111 innings pitched.

More injuries followed in 2018, specifically a broken finger incurred in his final appearance of spring training, which landed him on the 60-day disabled list. He returned on June 5th to face the Diamondbacks in a start in which he allowed 2 runs in 6 innings and was charged with a 3-2 loss. He was most upset at striking out with the bases loaded against Patrick Corbin in the 5th, at a time when a hit could have turned the game around. The Giants had managed to play .500 ball in his absence, a major achievement, and were very much still in contention in a wide open division. He won his first game of the year on June 21st when he pitched 8 scoreless innings to defeat the San Diego Padres, 3-0. Madison finished the year at 6-7, 3.26 in 21 starts, which were actually pretty good numbers given how poorly the Giants played that season. This only made him more of a potential trade target the following year, 2019, as the Giants were still headed nowhere and he was in the final year of his contract. After 20 starts, he was 5-7, 3.86, the ERA the highest of his career by almost half a run (it had been 3.37 in 2012), but still well above average, as shown by an ERA+ of 109. In his final start on September 24th against the Colorado Rockies, he homered off Jeff Hoffman; that made him the final pitcher to homer that year, and perhaps for a very long time given that MLB introduced the universal DH for the abbreviated 2020 season. It was his second homer of the year and the 19th long ball of his career. He finished the year at 9-9, 3.90 and was fully healthy, as his 34 starts led the NL; he also pitched 207 2/3 innings and struck out 203 batters. He was fully expecting to leave the Giants, but after the season, the team decided to make him a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million, meaning that there would be compensation to be paid by any team other than the Giants signing him as a free agent, something that was likely to decrease his value on the open market. He declined the offer, opting for free agency, and won his bet when, on December 15th, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed him to a five-year contract worth $85 million.

During his first spring training with the Diamondbacks in 2020, a story came out in The Athletic revealing that he had been competing for years in professional rodeos under the pseudonym "Mason Saunders". His particular specialty was steer roping, and given his very competitive nature, he was pretty good at it, having done so regularly since he was 15 and winning a number of events. He had a very rough start to the season as he was 0-3, 9.35 after four starts, and his velocity was way down while his command had apparently vanished in the haze. Very concerned, the D-Backs sent him to undergo medical tests relative to back spasms of which he was complaining. He ended up going 1-4, 6.48 in 9 starts. He wasn't much better in his first three starts of 2021, giving up 17 runs, all earned, in 13 2/3 innings for an ERA of 11.20, stoking the fears that he was done. He then won his next start by limiting the Washington Nationals to 1 run on 2 hits in 5 innings, then followed that up on April 25th by pitching a seven-inning unofficial no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. He did not walk anyone and struck out seven batters, with the only baserunner being Ozzie Albies, who reached in the 2nd inning on an error by SS Nick Ahmed as the Diamondbacks won the game, 7-0. In the first game, teammate Zac Gallen had also tossed a complete game shutout, this one a one-hitter. It was the first no-hitter of less than nine innings since Devern Hansack had pitched a rain-shortened one in 2006. He had a bounceback season that year, going 7-10, 4.67 in 26 starts for a last-place Diamondbacks team.

He seemed to be the Madison of old in April of 2022 as he put up a 1.17 ERA in 5 starts, even if his record was just 1-1. On May 4th, however, he made the news not for his pitching but for his temper, as he for some reason got into a heated argument with first-base umpire Dan Bellino during a routine substance check after the 1st inning of a start against the Miami Marlins, earning an ejection. It's not clear what made Bumgarner uncomfortable, but he completely lost his temper, was thrown out for using a profanity against Bellino, and then had to be restrained by manager Torey Lovullo, a teammate and two coaches. He had been unhappy with a called ball by home plate umpire Ryan Wills while facing Garrett Cooper earlier in the inning, but he had then retired him on his next pitch. In a rare development, umpire Bellino apologized the next day, stating that his attitude had made the incident worse than it should, and that he would learn from this. He recorded his 2,000th career strikeout on June 22nd, with Luke Voit of the San Diego Padres being the milestone victim. He went 7-15, 4.88 on the year, making 30 starts and pitching 158 2/3 innings.

He started the 2023 season stone cold, which was ironic because otherwise, the Diamondbacks were one of the surprise teams in baseball, leading the NL West in the early days of the season, After four starts, his record was 0-3, 10.26 as he had allowed 20 runs on 25 hits and 15 walks in 16 2/3 innings. On April 20th, the D-Backs decided to pull the plug, having him designated for assignment even though he was still owed $38 million on his contract.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ted Berg: "9 absurd stats that show Madison Bumgarner's obscene postseason dominance", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, October 6, 2016. [1]
  • Michael Clair: "Will MadBum be the last pitcher to hit a HR? A feat Bumgarner may have unknowingly set",, July 14, 2020. [2]
  • Steve Gardner: "Six to Watch: Bumgarner hoping to start how he ended '11", USA Today, March 14, 2012. [3]
  • Steven Gilbert: "Bumgarner throws 7-inning no-hitter: D-backs southpaw on outing vs. Braves: 'I'm pretty proud of it'",, April 25, 2021. [4]
  • Steve Gilbert: "Bumgarner makes history -- again -- with 2,000th K",, June 22, 2022. [5]
  • Steve Gilbert: "D-backs DFA struggling Madison Bumgarner",, April 21, 2023. [6]
  • Chris Haft: "Giants ace once again rises under pressure: Bumgarner adds to legend with third postseason shutout in Wild Card win",, October 6, 2016.[7]
  • Richard Justice: "Bumgarner makes October his time: Left-hander wills Giants to third World Series title in five seasons",, October 29, 2014. [8]
  • Paige Leckie: "Bumgarner ejected after puzzling exchange with umpire: Bullpen picks up ace left-hander to win series finale",, May 4, 2022. [9]
  • Bob Nightengale and Jesse Yomtov: "Diamondbacks land free agent starter Madison Bumgarner on five-year deal", USA Today, Dec. 15, 2019. [10]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Diamondbacks don't seem concerned about Madison Bumgarner's double-life on rodeo circuit as 'Mason Saunders'", USA Today, February 24, 2020. [11]
  • Bob Nightengale: "'Everyone is just teeing off': What happened to Diamondbacks ace Madison Bumgarner?", USA Today, August 10, 2020. [12]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Madison Bumgarner gets closer to mound return for San Francisco Giants", USA Today Sports, May 14, 2018. [13]
  • Manny Randhawa: "Through trade rumors, Bumgarner stays focused",, July 17, 2019. [14]

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