Every fall, 7x7 editors scratch our heads, pull out our hair, and lose sleep at night as we deliberate the biggest quandary of our year: How to select just 20 luminaries from the Bay Area's boundless constellation of stars.
As always, this year's Hot 20 comprises the brightest influencers of our time, in fields as diverse as hip-hop and politics, philanthropy and fashion, theater and neuroscience. You'll meet an activist chef, a sensational first-time author, the James Dean of rappers, and a baseballer for the history books. And now, please give a big round of applause for the 2016 Hot 20!
THE OCTOBER SURPRISE: Madison Bumgarner, SF Giants Pitcher
(Courtesy of the San Francisco Giants)
He had us all believen right to the very end: The San Francisco Giants may have ended their even-year World Series streak this season, but Madison Bumgarner is a pitcher for the ages. When, on October 5th, the 27-year-old threw a shutout in the Giants' wildcard win over the New York Mets, The Washington Post named him "a billion times a postseason hero"; ESPN declared "Bumgarner owns October"; and The New York Times called him a "postseason king."
But we're really not that surprised: MadBum, who was drafted by the Giants straight out of high school in 2007, has been earning his status as a postseason icon ever since. In 2010, he started the season in the minors but went on to throw eight scoreless innings at the 2010 World Series. In 2014, he pitched a World Series shutout—a feat only two other pitchers have managed in the last century. After this year's performance, Bumgarner is officially the only pitcher to have thrown multiple shutouts in winner-take-all postseason matches.
Giants fans get to keep Bumgarner in all his brilliance at least through 2019, and Giants GM Bobby Evans has said the club will extend the commitment whenever the pitcher is ready. —Alyssa Oursler