Best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s: 16. Ryan Vogelsong
By Joel Reuter
Ryan Vogelsong returned to the San Francisco Giants team that originally drafted him and enjoyed one of the most surprising late-career breakouts in recent memory.
The San Francisco Giants drafted Ryan Vogelsong in the fifth round of the 1998 MLB draft out of Kutztown University.
Despite his small-school status and Day 2 draft position, Vogelsong moved quickly through the minors and made his MLB debut on Sept. 2, 2000, tossing six scoreless innings over the final month of the 2000 season.
The following season, he was packaged with outfielder Armando Rios and traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the deadline in exchange for veteran outfielder John Vander Wal and a right-handed starter by the name of Jason Schmidt.
While that trade ended up paying major dividends for the Giants, Vogelsong never found any sort of consistency in Pittsburgh and he departed after the 2006 season with a 5.73 ERA in 362.2 innings with the team.
He then spent the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons pitching in the Japanese League, before returning stateside on a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, though he failed to make it back to the big leagues in 2010.
His odyssey came full circle when he signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Jan. 11, 2011, and he was called up to the majors shortly after the regular season began.
At 33 years old, and with a career 5.86 ERA in the majors and three seasons in Japan under his belt, Vogelsong came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the best starters in the National League.
He went 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 139 strikeouts in 179.2 innings, earning a spot on the NL All-Star team and finishing 11th in NL Cy Young voting.
The right-hander was terrific again in 2012, going 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 189.2 innings, and he kept things rolling with a brilliant postseason. The Giants won all four of his playoff starts and he went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in 24.2 innings of work.
His production fell off from there, but he was still a valuable member of the rotation, and he made three more starts and one relief appearance during the team’s 2014 World Series run.
All told, Vogelsong wrapped up his second go-around with the Giants at 48-46 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 792.2 innings spanning 132 starts and 13 relief appearances. In 37 career postseason innings, he posted a 2.92 ERA.
The San Francisco Giants inducted him onto the Wall of Fame in 2018.
Check back here regularly as we count down the 50 best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s.