October 26, 2010
The Giants may have never won a World Series since coming to San Francisco, but they've won four National League pennants and made 10 total playoff appearances since moving west from the Polo Grounds in 1958. You don't do that, of course, without a wealth of talented players and the Giants have fielded as impressive of a crop over the last 50 years as anybody.
So without further delay and with apologies to New York guys like Mel Ott, here's our list of the top-10 Giants since the franchise moved to San Francisco.
10. Will Clark, 1B (1986-1993) .299/.373/.499, 176 HR, 709 RBIs, 5x All-Star
At the end of the 1980s, Will Clark was, along with Fred McGriff, one of the best first basemen in baseball, with a reliable 20-homer power stroke and a usual .300/.400/.500 batting line. But like McGriff — and unlike his 1993 teammate Barry Bonds — his power numbers in the '90s looked just like his power numbers in the '80s. Also, frequent injuries kept him off the field, as he only once played 140 games in eight seasons after he turned 28.
9. Tim Lincecum(notes), SP (2007-2010) 56-27, 3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 3x All-Star, 2x NL Cy Young (2008 & 2009)
The Freak will soon be much higher on this list. But his 3 1/2 seasons in San Francisco have been so otherworldly, ludicrously, absurdly good that he already qualifies ahead of other Giants with far longer resumes — like Jim Barr, a fine starter who won 90 games with a 3.41 ERA in 10 years as a Giant in the '70s and '80s. Despite a midseason callup during his rookie year, Lincecum has the all-time record for most strikeouts through a pitcher's first four seasons with 907, 15 more than Doc Gooden. As the kids say, "Damn."
8. Matt Williams, 3B (1987-1996) .264/.312/.498, 247 HR, 732 RBIs, 4x All-Star
It's easy to forget just how good Williams was. Like Will Clark, he was frequently injured — he only played 150 games four times in his 17 seasons — but he was one of the best third basemen of his era. His only 40-homer season came in 1994, when he was on pace to tie Roger Maris at the time of the strike, but he hit over 30 on five other occasions, and he's actually seventh in homers among all third basemen, ahead of all his contemporaries but Chipper Jones(notes).
7. Bobby Bonds, RF (1968-1974) .273/.356/.478, 186 HR, 552 RBIs, 263 SB, 2x All-Star
The elder Bonds was a lot like his son. Or at least a lot like the Barry Bonds we saw from 1986 to 1991, when Barry averaged 25 homers and 36 stolen bases a year. For his career, Bobby averaged 24 and 33. He didn't last long enough for a shot at the Hall — his last full season was when he was only 33 — but he was a stunningly gifted player.
6. Jeff Kent(notes), 2B (1997-2002) .297/.368/.535, 175 HR, 689 RBIs, 3x All-Star, 1x NL MVP (2000)
Obtained for Matt Williams in the famous "I'm not an idiot" trade, Jeff Kent was polarizing in the clubhouse but devastating at the plate. He hit 107 homers before turning 30 and 270 afterwards; he's the all-time leading home run hitter among second basemen, and on a very short list with Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby among the best-hitting second basemen of all time.
5. Gaylord Perry, SP (1962-1971) 134-109, 2.96 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2x All-Star
An admitted spitballer who pitched forever — 22 seasons, from age 22 to age 44 — Gaylord Perry pitched nearly half his career in San Francisco, then pitched for seven other teams in the next 12 years, winning both of his Cy Young awards and getting three more All-Star nods after leaving Candlestick Park.
4. Willie McCovey, 1B (1959-1973, 1977-1980) .274/.377/.524, 469 HR, 1,388 RBIs, 6x All-Star, 1x MVP (1969)
Stretch had one of the great nicknames and one of the great swings. He was the San Francisco Giants' first native star, perhaps more of a hometown hero than the imported brilliance of Willie Mays. But he had light-tower power during the era of the pitcher, before the pitcher's mound was lowered in 1969: He led the major leagues in OPS from 1968-1970, and led the NL in homers and RBIs in both 1968 and 1969.
3. Juan Marichal, SP (1960-1973) 238-140, 2.84 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9x All-Star
Juan Marichal, the Dominican Dandy, was perhaps the first great Latin pitcher, and was certainly the man who put the Dominican Republic on the baseball map. Though he never won a major pitching award, his eight consecutive and nine overall All-Star appearances are a measure of his respect around the game. A supreme control pitcher with a huge leg kick, he led the National League in wins in 1968, the year Bob Gibson had the 1.12 ERA that led to the lowering of the mound.
2. Willie Mays, CF (1958-1972) .301/.384/.553, 459 HR, 1,350 RBIs, 14x All-Star, 1x NL MVP (1965)
Mays gets docked on this list because his first six seasons — including his first MVP campaign in 1954 — took place in New York, before the Giants moved 3,000 miles to San Francisco. Even still, he's the best living ballplayer and the guy with the statue in the front of AT&T Park.
1. Barry Bonds, LF (1993-2007) .312/.477/.666, 586 HR, 1,440 RBIs, 263 SB, 12x All-Star, 5x NL MVP (1993, 2001-2004)
First of all: Markus Winston Barrold Bonds IV had the same number of steals in San Francisco as his father did, though he needed twice as many seasons to do it. Second: His slugging percentage is the mark of the beast. Bonds is a uniquely polarizing figure, with similar success and similar steroid-fueled suspicion as Roger Clemens, but there's one thing you can't deny: He put up numbers like no one else and he was one of San Francisco's biggest sports stars from the day he arrived until his last game in uniform.
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Previously on BLS: The 10 best Texas Rangers of all time