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SF Giants History

San Francisco Giants: The Best Willie Mac Award Seasons

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Aug 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) throws to the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) throws to the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Cain (2009)

Wins Above Replacement: 6.3

Cain began his career at the age of 20, and by 2009 he, had established himself as one of the best pitchers on the Giants. Along with Tim Lincecum, Cain was helping the Giants build a team based on pitching and defense that could finally contend with other National League teams.

Cain was coming off back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008 where he had more losses than wins despite his numbers showing that his performance was excellent. The Giants had spent the final seasons of the Barry Bonds era trying to piece together lineups of veterans and minor leaguers, and Cain was paying the price for it. By 2009, getting “Cained” had become language Giants fans were used to. Cain lost many games despite only giving up one or two runs.

Cain never seemed to complain and always worked harder the next outing to help his team find a way to win anyway. That effort paid off in 2009 as the Giants rewarded him with the Willie Mac award.

Andres Torres (2010)

Wins Above Replacement: 5.6

Sometimes the Willie Mac award goes to the unlikeliest of candidates. Torres was a minor league free agent who was unlikely to make the opening day roster when he came into camp. Then, once he did make the team, it was unlikely he’d be more than a fourth outfielder with teammate Aaron Rowand paid handsomely to be the every day starting center fielder.

And yet, by year’s end, not only had Rowand been benched, but Torres had flourished. He would literally help lead the Giants to their first championship since moving to San Francisco in 1958. His production atop the Giants lineup launched San Francisco past the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers to one of the most unlikely championships in recent memory. For a band of “castoffs and misfits,” Torres was certainly a worthy leader.

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