SF Giants History

My all-time San Francisco Giants team

By Erik Catalan
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Oct 24, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; A general view of a statue of Willie Mays before game three of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

My first recollection of my dad’s favorite team was watching a replay of “The Catch” made during game 1 of the 1954 World Series.  My dad was quick to mention, though, that it wasn’t just the catch but the throw afterward that made that play so amazing, keeping the runner on second from scoring the go ahead run (something not uncommon in enormous outfield at the Polo Grounds).  And though I have never seen the “Say Hey Kid” play a live game, my household knew, without question, that Willie was the greatest Giant ever.

In my 30 years as a fan of the San Francisco Giants, there have been those special players who leave their mark.  Not just for their on-field contributions, but for their larger than life personalities. It is harder to maintain that mystique in recent years, with twitter, facebook and instant news feeds spewing every intimate detail of a player’s life, but big leaguers still manage to create legendary personas that will certainly propel their stories into history.

With that in mind, I’d like to propose my all-time Giants squad.  This list won’t solely depend on a players numbers, but what legacy they left (or are leaving) behind.  Counting down from positions 9 to 1, I propose my All-Giants squad of the last 30 years (my life as a fan).

Mar 10, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants former outfielder Barry Bonds during batting practice prior to the game against the Chicago Cubs at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

9 – LF – Barry Bonds – Asterisk or not, there is no denying his greatness.  He is Major League Baseball’s single season (73) and all-time (762) home run leader, including 586 in the orange and black.  He holds franchise single-season records (SF era) for BA (.370), HR, and BB (232) and is one of only four players in the 40/40 club.  Along with fellow sluggers Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey Jr., he was among the big bombers during baseball’s long-ball re-branding that helped to woo fans back to the ball-park after the strike in 1994.  Though his clubhouse and dugout antics left something to be desired, I will remember his 15 seasons with the Giants more sweet than bitter.

8 – CF – Brett Butler – He was the center fielder of my childhood.  Butler accumulated over 2,300 hits over his career, and played in at least 154 games in each of his 3 seasons as the Giants CF.  Stellar with the glove and even better on the base path, Butler accumulated over 500 stolen bases, including 125 as a Giant.  He also finished in the top 25 in National League MVP voting while patrolling the grass at Candlestick.   It still stings a little that you left us for LA, Brett, but I forgive you.

7 – RF – Hunter Pence – This was a close one, but his championship pedigree, and superb charisma put him over the top from my other favorite, Randy Winn.  There’s something about Hunter’s happy-go-lucky attitude, his awkward batting stance, his knee-high socks, and his close-knit relationship with the fans that’s difficult to root against.  Whether he’s zipping around the property on his scooter, sacrificing his body for an unbelievable play, or inspiring his teammates to grind out a post-season victory, Pence is the rare combination of fan-favorite who puts up numbers, and makes big plays to boot.  He is a durable San Francisco iron-man and has played all 162 games in both of his full seasons with the team.  Oh, and he kind of looks like Marv from Home Alone.

6 – SS – Rich Aurilia – He played the fourth most games in franchise history (960) at the position, and took his talents from Candlestick to (then) Pac Bell Park.  Though not many San Francisco short-stops in the last three decades have put up significant stats at the dish, Aurilia was a dependable hitter with decent power.  He was the last SF Giant SS named to the all-star team in 2001, boasting a season .324 BA and slugging an impressive 37 HR (the most by any Giants SS).  A truly like-able player, and my favorite Giants SS,  #35, Rich Aurilia

October 6, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams before game three of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

5 – 3B – Matt Williams – Four times an all-star in San Francisco, and a pros pro, Williams was a player who let his game do the talking.  Among Giants 3rd basemen, he ranks 1st in career HR’s (247), 1st in career SLG (.498), 1st in RBI’s (732), 1st in career XBH (451), 2nd in games played (1120), and 3rd in total hits (1092).  The offensive numbers speak for themselves, but Williams was also a 3-time Gold Glove winner (’91, ’93 and ’94) in SF, and my ultimate Giants 3rd basemen.

4 – 2B – Robby Thompson – He spent the entirety of his 10-year MLB career with the Giants, and is my choice at 2nd base for the All-Giants team.  2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1983, and a 2-time All-star, Thompson finishes as one of the top three Giants in nearly every (team all-time) career offensive category.  He won a Gold Glove in 1993, and is not only my favorite Giants 2nd basemen of all time, but one of my all-time favorites period.

3 – 1B – Will Clark – His swing was so sweet, and he had every kid on my little-league team wearing eye-black – Will Clark had the swagger, before there was swagger.  As a 5-time All-star, with a Gold Glove and two Silver Slugger awards, he spent his first 8 seasons in the bigs in San Francisco and was the player responsible for me wanting to play the game.  It wasn’t just how good he was, but how effortless he made it look.  Maybe it was seeing the game through the eyes of a kid, but Clark was the antithesis of the steroid era, and my childhood baseball idol.

Oct 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey before game six of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2 – C – Buster Posey – Is there really anyone else?  Though the numbers back him up, it truly is the intangibles that make Buster (despite only being 5 seasons into his young career) my #1 backstop.  Wise beyond his years, he displays exemplary poise, discipline and consistently puts in the time to learn opposing line-ups and set his hurlers up to win.  When a horrific leg injury had many wondering if he would ever be the same, he put in the time and work necessary to come back as strong as before.  In a time, where it’s risky business to allow sports superstars to be childhood heroes, you can rely on Buster on and off the field.

1 – P – Robb Nen – The man who gave everything he had on the field, played his final five MLB seasons as the Giants closer.  Former Giants trainer, Stan Conte put Nen’s impact perfectly into words in an interview with ESPN magazine:

"“It’s a mental aspect. Some guys have it, some don’t. A lot of guys can get three outs. Robb Nen could close.”"

Nen played part of his final season (2002) with a partially torn labrum, knowing it would likely be his last (and it was).  Despite the pain, he played through it and showed incomparable determination saving 43 games, gained All-star honors, helped earn his team their first World series bid in 13 seasons and ended his career as the all-time Giants save leader (206).

Who are your favorite all-time San Francisco Giants? Perhaps your experience stretches farther than mine.  Leave your faves in the comments section.

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