Brandon Belt has been as good a first baseman for the Giants as any in recent history. His numbers, according to WAR, have already surpassed J.T. Snow‘s career with the Giants and only Will Clark and Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey remain on the countdown. Belt has never hit for the power that some fans want or expect from a first baseman. Belt has however been a top five first baseman in the National League at both the plate and in the field ever since becoming a regular starter for the Giants. His two World Series rings have shown how important his defense and bat have been to San Francisco’s success. Belt is coming off his first All-Star season in 2016 and the new six year contract he signed in April says he will continue to be a big part of the Giants future.
Brandon Belt breaks the tie in the 18th inning of the National League Divisional Series.
Rich Aurilia has always been a fan favorite. The power hitting shortstop was given the number 35 by equipment manager Mike Murphy to follow in the tradition of Chris Speier. Brandon Crawford wears the number now for the same reason. [SPOILER ALERT: Both shortstops appear later in this countdown.]
Great shortstops are rare, and Aurilia had a great career during his time in San Francisco. Aurilia began his major league career in 1995, but from 1997-2003, he was a key member of the Giants powerful lineup. His best season came in 2001, when the #2 hitter belted 37 home runs and drove in 97 runs himself batting ahead of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent. Aurilia ended up with a six win season, according to WAR. Twelve of Aurilia’s 15 seasons were in San Francisco, finishing his career with the Giants as well. His 1226 hits as a Giant rank sixth on the all-time list since 1958, trailing only Will Clark, Orlando Cepeda, Barry Bonds, Willie McCovey and Willie Mays.
Jim Davenport may be the most underrated Giant to ever play in San Francisco. Davenport began his career in San Francisco in 1958, the same season the Giants did. From 1958-1970, played in 1501 games. His lone All-Star appearance and Gold Glove came in 1962, to help lead the Giants into the World Series. Third baseman Ken Boyer and Hall of Famer Ron Santo outshined Davenport with the glove at the time, so people outside of San Francisco didn’t take notice of how good “Davvy” was. Davenport died in February of last year and his death ripped through the organization.
"“If you look at third basemen,” Willie Mays said, “you have to think of Davvy as one of those guys who wasn’t real big, but he played third base the best of anybody in the league.”"
Davvy spent 51 seasons with the Giants as a player, coach, scout, and manager. Players on the current team know Davenport well from his time as an instructor and manager in the minor leagues. That type of baseball lifer meant more to the Giants and their fans than anything you could read on a boxscore from a career .258 hitter.
Gary Lavelle is one of the best relief pitchers in Giants history. Over 11 seasons (1974-1984) and 647 games with San Francisco, Lavelle recorded 127 saves over 980.1 innings. Drafted by the Giants in the 20th round of the 1967 amateur draft, Lavelle also maintained a 2.82 ERA and only allowed 44 home runs in that time or 0.4 HR/9. He was a two time All-Star, going to the Midsummer Classic in 1977 and 1983. 1977 was his best season, with a 2.05 ERA over 118.1 innings and a staggering ERA+ of 191.
His only playoff experience came in 1985 with the Toronto Blue Jays where Lavelle face one hitter and walked him.