San Francisco Giants
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All-Time Team – New York/San Francisco Giants
Willie Mays gets the nod here over Barry Bonds. Bonds reached a level of dominance during the first few seasons of the 21st century that few other players have even approached. But he did so under a cloud of suspicion. Furthermore, Mays was a better all-around player over the course of his career. He was at least the equal of Bonds as a base-runner, and he was a superior defensive player, possessing a much stronger throwing arm.
Both Juan Marichal and Carl Hubbell were great pitchers, but Christy Mathewson is considered by many baseball historians to be the finest pitcher in National League history. You will find no disagreement with that here.
First Base – Willie McCovey
Both Bill Terry and Orlando Cepeda had some great years for the Giants as well, but, in the end, McCovey’s awesome power at the plate earned him the starting job. Stretch hit 469 home runs and knocked in 1,388 runs for the Giants over parts of 19 seasons, while also posting an on-base percentage of .377 and a slugging percentage of .524. McCovey surpassed 30 homers seven times, reaching the 40-homer plateau on two separate occasions. He also knocked in more than 100 runs four times. McCovey had his greatest season in 1969, when he won N.L. MVP honors by leading the league with 45 homers, 126 runs batted in, a .453 on-base percentage, and a .656 slugging percentage, while also batting .320. He placed in the top 10 in the MVP voting another three times.
Second Base – Jeff Kent
This was really a close call between Jeff Kent and Frankie Frisch. Although Frisch is perhaps better remembered for his time in St. Louis, he actually had some of his finest seasons for the Giants during the 1920s. The Fordham Flash batted well over .300 six straight times for New York from 1921 to 1926, posting a career-high mark of .348 in 1923. He also scored more than 100 runs four times, knocked in more than 100 runs twice, accumulated more than 200 hits twice, and stole more than 30 bases three times, leading the N.L. with 49 thefts in 1921. It really wouldn’t take too much to sway me to Frisch’s side. Nevertheless, I decided to go with Kent because of the tremendous offensive production he gave the Giants during his six years with the team. Kent averaged 29 homers, 115 RBIs, and 95 runs scored from 1997 to 2002, while also compiling a batting average of .297 and an on-base percentage of .368. He topped 30 homers three times and 100 runs scored twice, batted over .300 twice, and knocked in more than 100 runs all six years. Kent captured N.L. MVP honors in 2000, when he edged out teammate Barry Bonds in the voting by hitting 33 home runs, driving in 125 runs, scoring 114 others, and batting a career-high .334. Kent placed in the top 10 in the balloting three other times.
Third Base – Matt Williams
Another tough decision, this time between Matt Williams and Fred Lindstrom. The latter had two extremely impressive years for the Giants during their time in New York, posting batting averages of .358 in 1928 and .379 in 1930. Lindstrom collected 231 hits and knocked in more than 100 runs in each of those seasons. However, he did little else while playing for New York, having just two other productive seasons. Meanwhile, Williams didn’t hit for a particularly high batting average, hitting just .264 in his 10 years with the Giants. However, he posted some fairly impressive power numbers, topping 30 homers four times and driving in more than 100 runs twice. Williams topped the National League with 43 homers during the strike-shortened 1994 campaign, also leading the league four years earlier with 122 runs batted in. He hit a total of 247 home runs and knocked in 732 runs for the Giants. Those figures far exceed the figures posted by Lindstrom, who hit only 91 homers and drove in just 603 runs for the team. Lindstrom, though, compiled a slightly higher OPS (.820 to .811). It’s a close call, but the starting job goes to Williams, who also played an outstanding third base for the Giants, winning three Gold Gloves as a member of the team.
Shortstop – Travis Jackson
Travis Jackson established himself as the finest shortstop in franchise history by batting over .300 six times, driving in more than 90 runs three times, and hitting more than 20 home runs once for the Giants from 1923 to 1936. Over the course of his 13 seasons as the team’s full-time starter at the position, Jackson totaled 135 homers, 929 runs batted in, and 833 runs scored, while compiling a lifetime batting average of .291. A strong defensive player, Jackson led all N.L. shortstops in assists on four separate occasions.
Left Field – Barry Bonds
No question here…Barry Bonds is clearly the greatest left-fielder in Giants’ history. Bonds won five of his major-league record seven MVP Awards while playing on the West Coast, establishing himself in the process as one of the greatest players of all time. Monte Irvin must settle for a distant second-place finish and a spot on the bench.
Center Field – Willie Mays
Another runaway selection in the person of Willie Mays. Considered by many to be the greatest all-around player in baseball history, Mays excelled for the Giants in both New York and San Francisco. He surpassed 50 homers for the team while playing in New York’s Polo Grounds in 1954, then duplicated his earlier feat by reaching the 50-homer plateau while playing in windy Candlestick Park in 1965. Mays earned N.L.MVP honors both times, en route to establishing himself in the minds of many as the finest center fielder in the history of the game.
Right Field – Mel Ott
The Giants have had many outstanding right fielders through the years, including Ross Youngs, Bobby Bonds, and Jack Clark. The finest player ever to man the position for the team, though, was unquestionably Mel Ott, who spent his entire 22-year career with the Giants. The diminutive slugger hit 511 home runs, drove in 1,860 runs, scored 1,859 others, and drew 1,708 bases on balls – all National League records when he retired from the game at the conclusion of the 1947 campaign. Ott also compiled a lifetime batting average of .304, a .414 on-base percentage, and 2,876 hits. He led the National League in home runs and walks six times each, on-base percentage four times, runs scored twice, and RBIs once. Ott had perhaps his finest year in 1929, when he hit 42 homers, knocked in 151 runs, scored 138 others, batted .328, and compiled a .449 on-base percentage.
Catcher - Buck Ewing
Considered to be one of the 19th century’s greatest players, Buck Ewing spent nine years in New York, during which time he set a standard no other Giants’ receiver has even been able to approach. The versatile catcher batted over .300 eight times, scored more than 90 runs three times, stole more than 30 bases three times, and finished in double-digits in triples seven times between 1883 and 1892, during a period in which most professional teams played fewer than 100 games per-season. Ewing led the league with 10 home runs in his first year with the Giants, then followed that up by topping the circuit with 20 triples the next year. Ewing played every position on the field at some point during his career.
Starting Pitcher – Christy Mathewson
Many baseball historians consider Christy Mathewson to be the greatest National League pitcher of all-time. The right-hander dominated the senior circuit for much of his career, posting a lifetime record of 373-188, along with an ERA of 2.13. Mathewson won at least 30 games on four separate occasions, surpassing 20 victories another nine times. He also compiled an ERA below 2.00 five times. Mathewson had perhaps his greatest season in 1908, when he led all N.L. pitchers with 37 wins, a 1.43 ERA, 259 strikeouts, 11 shutouts, 34 complete games, and 391 innings pitched.
Starting Pitcher – Juan Marichal
No pitcher won more games during the 1960s than Juan Marichal, who compiled 191 victories for the Giants over the course of the decade. The Dominican Dandy surpassed 25 wins on three separate occasions, winning at least 20 games another three times. He also compiled an ERA below 3.00 a total of nine times, struck out more than 200 batters six times, threw more than 300 innings three times, and completed more than 20 of his starts five times. Marichal led all N.L. pitchers in wins twice, ERA once, and shutouts, innings pitched and complete games two times each. Over the course of his 14 years with the Giants, Marichal posted a record of 238-140, along with an outstanding 2.84 ERA.
Starting Pitcher – Carl Hubbell
Rivaling Dizzy Dean as the National League’s finest pitcher for much of the 1930s, Carl Hubbell won more than 20 games for the Giants five straight times, posting a combined record of 115-50 from 1933 to 1937. During that time, the screw-balling left-hander won two N.L. MVP Awards, finished third in the voting another time, and appeared in the All-Star Game each year. Hubbell won at least 17 games three other times, led the league in wins on three separate occasions, and also topped the circuit in ERA three times. He had his first MVP season in 1933, when he led all N.L. hurlers with 23 victories, a 1.66 ERA, 10 shutouts, and 309 innings pitched. Hubbell captured the award a second time in 1936, when he finished 26-6, with a 2.31 ERA, 25 complete games, and 304 innings pitched.
Starting Pitcher – Joe McGinnity
Often called Iron Man because of his extraordinary endurance that enabled him to start both games of a doubleheader from time to time, Joe McGinnity teamed up with Christy Mathewson the first few years of the 20th century to give the Giants the National League’s most formidable pitching duo. After winning 28 games for Brooklyn in both 1899 and 1900, McGinnity joined the Giants in 1902. He won 31 games for them the following year, before having his greatest season in 1904. Surpassing even the great Mathewson that year, McGinnity led all N.L. hurlers with a record of 35-8, a 1.61 ERA, nine shutouts, and 408 innings pitched, while completing 38 of his 44 starts. McGinnity won a total of 48 games for the Giants the next two years, ending his seven-year run with the team in 1908 with an overall record of 151-88, a 2.38 ERA, and 186 complete games.
Starting Pitcher – Tim Keefe
Tim Lincecum merited a great deal of consideration as well for the final starting spot. However, the slender right-hander is still building his legacy, and he has to put together a few more outstanding years before he can be compared favorably to Tim Keefe, who pitched for the Giants from 1885 to 1889, and then again in 1891. Keefe compiled an overall record of 174-82 for the team during that relatively brief period of time, along with an ERA of 2.54. He led the National League in wins twice, with victory totals of 42 in 1886 and 35 in 1888. Keefe also topped the circuit twice in ERA, once in strikeouts, once in shutouts, and once in both complete games and innings pitched, with remarkable totals of 62 and 535, respectively.
Closer – Robb Nen
I thought about slotting Hoyt Wilhelm into the role of closer here, but it was difficult to ignore the huge save totals compiled by Robb Nen during his five years with the Giants. Nen saved a total of 206 games for the team from 1998 to 2002, surpassing the 40-mark in four of those five seasons. He also compiled an outstanding 2.43 ERA during that time.
Manager – John McGraw
One of the most influential men in baseball the first third of the 20th century, John McGraw managed the Giants from 1902 to 1932. During that time, the team won 10 pennants and three world championships, finishing second in the senior circuit another 10 times. McGraw’s Giants posted an overall record of 2,583-1,790, for an outstanding .591 winning percentage.
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