- DH, OF, RF, LF, CF
- January 20, 1971
- 5' 11"
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-16-1995 with CLE
Perhaps the most significant contribution former General Manger Cam Bonifay made to the Pittsburgh Pirates was when he acquired a young outfielder from the Cleveland Indians in November of 1998 by the name of Brian Giles.
Giles was considered a good prospect in the Cleveland Organization, but after .268 and .269 seasons with the Indians in 1997 and 1998, Brian became expendable when Cleveland was looking for a left-hander to bolster their bullpen in hopes of the Tribe returning to the World Series. GM John Hart felt he found his man in the Pirates Ricardo Rincon, and dealt the young outfielder to Pittsburgh in return for Rincon.
While Rincon battled injuries, Giles showed power nobody thought he ever had by cracking 39 homers in his inaugural season with the club, including a record 24 at Three Rivers Stadium. Brian also tied for 5th in the senior circuit in slugging with a .614 mark and on base percentage at .418 before fracturing his thumb on September 21st, which put Brian on the shelf the remainder of the campaign.
While some wondered if 1999 was a fluke, Giles immediately proved them wrong by becoming the first Pirate to have back-to-back .300-30 home run- 100 RBI seasons. His 123 runs batted in, were only 8 behind Paul Waner’s all-time mark of 131 while his batting eye showed through once again, finishing second in the NL in walks and 4th in on base percentage at .432.
As the Pirates moved out of the place they had called home for 30 years and into their palatial new digs, PNC Park, Pittsburgh suffered through an injury plagued season, which resulted in a major power outage on the team. While every one seemed to be going through major slumps around him, Giles continued to be the lone bright spot in an otherwise meager Buc offense. He again finished the season in the top ten of slugging and on base percentage, which became more remarkable when one considers he literally had nothing around him but Aramis Ramirez to provide an offensive spark. Brian set a club record for total bases in a season with 340 while his remarkable 116 runs (out of the team total of 657), was the most by a Bucco since the 121 the great Ralph Kiner put up in 1951.
Probably the highlight of Giles season was against the Astros on July 28th. With the club down 8-2 with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Brian’s grand slam off Houston’s tough closer Billy Wagner, capped an incredible 7 run rally as the Pirates won the game 9-8.
Even though the Pitching improve drastically in 2002 and the Bucs were not the laughing stock of the NL anymore, their offensive output still was, again the burden was put on Giles to carry the team. He did so in extraordinary fashion again leading the club in homers with 38. His total of 38 is the ninth best in Pittsburgh Pirate history as in four seasons with the Bucs he has amassed 4 of the top 12 home run seasons ever produced in this franchises long and illustrious season. With incredible consistency, his 30 home runs in four consecutive seasons is a mark only equaled by two other players, both Hall of Famers as Willie Stargell turned the trick between 1970-1973 while Kiner hit more than 30 on six straight occasions between 1947-1952. Only Kiner hit more homers in his first four seasons, 168, than Giles total of 149.
With a phenomenal 6 RBI performance on the final weekend of the season in Chicago, Brian also eclipsed the 100 RBI plateau for the third time in four years, although by going hitless in a pinch hit appearance on the campaigns final contest, he fell under .300 for the first time since he first donned the Black and Gold four seasons ago.
Consistency had been Giles legacy since coming to the Steel City in 1999. He has also been the ultimate team player as he has gone back and forth between center and left field, wherever the team needed his glove. Even though, owner Kevin McClatchy signed his superstar through the 2006 season, hoping to give GM David Littlefield an impressive offensive piece to hopefully build a new competitive Pirate team around, Giles was dealt to the Padres in 2003, in Littlefield’s greatest trade in his tenure as Pirate GM, fetching Oliver Perez and Jason Bay from San Diego.
Giles was never able to live up to his powerful numbers in Pittsburgh, hitting only 83 homers in his 7 year Padre career compared to 165 in 5 campaigns with the Bucs. He retired in early 2010 after signing a free agent contract with the Dodgers.
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