The all time best players on the San Francisco Giants

12 Apr

When you think of the Giants certain images just dominate the visions in your mind, the five World Series titles, Candlestick Park, or for some the old Polo Grounds older fans recall from their days in New York. Mostly what people remember are the men in uniform, none more identifiable than Willie Mays. While a whopping total of fifty five people that have passed through this organization have taken up residence in Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown N.Y., there are several standouts that made this organization so special and beloved. Choosing just a few is difficult but given the task I would count the following men as the true giants among Giant’s in no particular order.

 Willie “The Say Hey Kid” Mays is one of the top four players of all time. There was nothing he didn’t do exceptionally well. He ran as if possessed, his fielding prowess was beyond words can describe, and his arm was a weapon that was made to send doubles to an early death. While we always remember his incredible over the shoulder catch and his hat falling off every time he found that extra gear while running, he will always be known as one of the greatest hitters ever. The numbers he compiled offensively are amazing and still don’t convey his utter greatness. 660 home runs, 3283 hits, 1903 ribbies, a .302 average and 338 stolen bases just as a little icing on the cake show beyond any shadow of a doubt how complete a package he was. Not that more convincing should be needed to prove his greatness, but he was also the Rookie of the Year, a two time MVP, and finished in the top 6 of MVP balloting an amazing twelve times! Twenty four consecutive All-Star appearances, twelve gold gloves, the accolades could go on forever.

The man the cove is named after Willie McCovey who was known as “Stretch” played 19 of his 22 season in a Giants uniform compiling 521 homers, 1555 ribbies, and a .270 career average to go with his Rookie of the Year award and 1969 MVP award. McCovey was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his prime and some do agree he was on of the best hitters with the game on the line. He was smooth on the field and at the plate, an imposing 6’4″ figure that played the game hard, right, and with a smile on his face which makes him a fan favorite and a Giant legend.

The “Dominican Dandy” Juan Marichal was one of the most coveted, loved, and feared pitchers of a generation. He finished his career an amazing 101 wins over .500 with a 243-142 record that translates to a .631 winning percentage. With six 20 plus win seasons, four in row, Juan was one of the most consistently dominant pitchers you could find in either league. He also posted 200 or more strikeouts six seasons in a row which demonstrates in part how he closed his career with an amazing 2.89 ERA, a number pitchers in the modern game dream of posting just one season! While he never garnered a Cy Young award he did finish in the top ten of MVP balloting three times, no small feat for a pitcher and a true measure of his value.

 “King” Carl Hubbell is a throwback to the Giants days in New York and was perhaps one of the most feared pitchers in the game during his hey day. Five consecutive 20 plus win seasons, more than one hundred wins over .500 for his career, a sub 3.00 ERA, two MVP awards and five top ten finishes are testament to his utter dominance. Just remember he did all this on the way to collecting his 253 career wins in only seventeen years! Of course as all legends have a specific memorable moment, Hubbell’s was the 1934 All-Star game when he set down Ruth, Gehrig. Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin, all future Hall of Famers, in a row. This is a story even I grew up hearing forty years after it happened.

Mel Ott is another member of the Giants family from their New York days best remembered for his signature leg kick at the plate that powered 511 home runs. That was hardly the end of his offensive game as he lived beyond the .300 marker for his career and boasted both over 1800 runs scored and driven in. Ott never did grab an MVP award but did earn six top ten finishes. Ott was a great player all too often overlooked in a cuty with three teams that were packed with incredible talent almost garunteeing he lived in the shadow of Ruth, Gehrig, or DiMaggio in the press but not on the field.

Barry Bonds all the controversial episodes aside and not meriting mention here is the all time single season and career home run leader. He has passed the 500 steal marker, managed a .298 career batting average, won the Rookie of the Year, snatched seven MVP awards and finished in the top five twelve times. Offensively there is almost nothing he has not done. As a younger man he was an exceptional defensive outfielder, perhaps the finest five tool player of his generation, and someone you loved if you were a Giants fan. His talent has never been questioned, only his judgement.

While there are countless incredible players and dipping into the New York era of the franchise would merit mention of the legendary Christy Mathewson among others there are only so many you can list. Orlando Cepeda Merits mention as well, he was awesome for lack of a better word, but was he better than the above mentioned? I tend to think not. As all things baseball there will always be debate, and your picks may be different, but without doubt, all are great!

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