One of the most colorful characters in franchise history, Brian Wilson was also a dominant closer during his time with the San Francisco Giants.
He underwent Tommy John surgery during his junior season with the Tigers after making just eight starts. Otherwise, he likely would have been drafted higher. He posted a 3.37 ERA over eight starts, including a complete-game shutout against Florida, prior to the injury.
The hard-throwing right-hander returned to action with a 5.34 ERA in 57.1 innings at Single-A in his pro debut, before putting together a breakout season in 2005.
He started the year at Single-A and reached Triple-A by the end of the year, logging a 1.35 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 60 innings. He also saved 21 games in 50 appearances.
That was enough to make him the No. 12 prospect in the San Francisco Giants system heading into the 2006 season, according to Baseball America.
He made his MLB debut on April 23, 2006, tossing two scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies. He wound up making 55 appearances in the majors in 2006 and 2007 with a 4.02 ERA and seven saves, before becoming a full-time member of the bullpen and the team’s closer in 2008.
His peak was relatively brief, but during his four-year run in the ninth-inning role, he was one of the best closers in baseball.
- 2008: 63 G, 41/47 SV, 4.62 ERA, All-Star
- 2009: 68 G, 38/45 SV, 2.74 ERA
- 2010: 70 G, 48/53 SV, 1.81 ERA, All-Star
- 2011: 57 G, 36/41 SV, 3.11 ERA, All-Star
He allowed just five hits and one unearned run with four hits and 16 strikeouts in 11.2 innings of work during the 2010 postseason. He saved six games, including the decisive Game 5 of the World Series.
All told, he racked up 171 saves during his time in San Francisco, good for third on the franchise list behind only Robb Nen (206) and Rod Beck (199).
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