Most experts picked the Detroit Tigers to win Game 1 of this year’s World Series, against the San Francisco Giants. After all, the team’s ace, Justin Verlander, was on the mound; he had looked unhittable all postseason, and the Giants weren’t exactly known as a power hitting team. But then the Kung Fu Panda got a hold of him. Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, San Francisco’s chunky third baseman, whacked two home runs off Verlander – and then another off a Detroit reliever – to lead the Giants to a 8-3 win over the Tigers. Detroit never recovered, as the Giants swept the series to win their second title in three years. Sandoval became the fourth player in World Series history to hit three homers in one game (Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols are the others). San Francisco’s pitchers – who hurled two straight shutouts, in Games 2 and 3, and finished the series with a 1.46 E.R.A – dominated the series. But Kung Fu Panda, who hit .500 (8 for 16) in the sweep, won the M.V.P.
In 55 wide-ranging lists, TIME surveys the highs and lows, the good and the bad of the past 12 months