The SF Giants are one of the oldest - and most successful - franchises in the history of Major League Baseball, with the most wins by any team in MLB (before 1901, just National League) history at 11,301, and the second-best winning percentage behind only the New York Yankees. It makes sense, then that a Giants hat is the second-most represented among all members the Hall, with 25 different plaques featuring individuals who were mainly New York and/or San Francisco Giants.
December is in full swing, and so is voting for 2022 Hall of Fame inductions by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) with over 10 years in the organization. Those are the people considering a number of former players who donned the Orange and Black in any regular-season game in their career. Votes from at least 75% of voters enshrine a candidate in Cooperstown.
To be considered for the Hall of Fame, candidates must have played in at least 10 MLB championship seasons and have been retired for at least five years, with those failing to gain election after 10 years on the ballot (or garnering votes on less than 5% of ballots cast in a single election) falling off. A screening committee goes over everyone who meets the playing time and retirement requirements and pares down the list so the ballot doesn't get too bulky; some former Giants who last played in 2016 and whose careers didn't stand out enough include Jeff Francouer, Javier Lopez, Angel Pagan, Juan Uribe, Ryan Vogelsong and Jerome Williams.
The ballot sent to voters includes 30 players, eight of whom played for the Giants (nine, if you count Jimmy Rollins' attempt to make the team in Spring Training in 2017). They range from a one-year starting catcher to solid role players to award winners and a mercurial all-time great.
What former Giants are on the ballot?
It all begins, of course, with Barry Bonds. MLB's all-time home run leader retired after the 2007 season and has been on the ballot since 2013, making this his 10th and final shot (though he'll be considered by a veterans' committee of some sort further down the road if he misses this year). The accolades are mind-boggling: 14 All-Star selections, 12 Silver Sluggers, 8 Gold Gloves, 7 MVPs. The reason he hasn't been elected yet is his connection to performance-enhancing drugs from the late-1990s through mid-2000s.
Nobody has pinpointed exactly when he started "juicing", but enough voters see his alleged usage as the reason he broke Hank Aaron's home run record and a stain on the game (many of the same have helped elect other players with strong links to steroids in the past few years and could vote for David Ortiz this year, but Bonds reportedly had a testy relationship with - and therefore was disliked by - much of the media during his career, making it easy for them to leave his box unchecked).
Even before he supposedly started using drugs to help his game, he was a surefire Hall of Famer. Bonds is the only player in history with at least 400 steals and home runs, finishing with 762 jacks and 514 swipes - it's likely he would have reached 500-500 without steroids. He also exhibited an excellent batting eye and knowledge of the strike zone from the beginning of his career.
After earning 61.8% of the vote for the 2021 class, Bonds has a ways to go to reach 75%. Players often receive more consideration their final year on the ballot, but it could be a case where voters are stuck in their opinions on his behavior and continue to leave him off.
The next-highest returning vote-getter who suited up for the Giants is Omar Vizquel. A defensive whiz with an adequate bat - similar to 2002 inductee Ozzie Smith - Vizquel manned the shortstop spot and won two Gold Gloves for the Giants from 2005-2008. He is in his fifth year on the ballot and had made good progress in his first few turns, but domestic abuse allegations coming to light around this time last year put a damper on his candidacy, and it continues to suffer in early returns this year
One of the best-hitting second-baseman in baseball history, Jeff Kent is running out of time to gain election. The ninth-year candidate broke out with San Francisco from 1997-2002, hitting 175 of his 377 career home runs and winning the 2000 NL MVP. Despite his power prowess, Kent's best results in voting was a 32.1% last year. He'll need quite a push this year or next to get in.
A Bay Area legend from his early-career success with the Oakland Athletics, Tim Hudson finished his time in MLB with two seasons in the Giants' rotation - earning his only World Series title with the 2014 squad. A four-time All-Star, Hudson won 222 career games with a 3.49 ERA. Last year, his first year on the ballot, he narrowly eclipsed the minimum number of votes to stay on, with 5.2%. His is a candidacy that may grow on voters over time, especially with starting pitcher usage changing in today's game, provided he continues to remain on the ballot.
Four former Giants are on the ballot for the first time, and it's quite possible it will be one-and-done for all.
Tim Lincecum was a shooting star, taking the league by storm from his rookie year and winning the Cy Young award in each of his first two full seasons (2008-09). His success burned brightly but quickly, with 2011 marking the last sub-4.00 ERA, and he hung around long enough to start nine games for the 2016 Los Angeles Angels to qualify with his 10th season of play. A 110-89 record and 3.74 career ERA belies his early-career dominance (62-36, 2.81 with 977 strikeouts in 881 2/3 innings from 2008-2011), but the whole picture is a good-but-not-great player.
Initially drafted by the Giants as a shortstop, Joe Nathan converted to the mound early as a professional and carved out a career as one of the best closers in the game for over a decade. Nathan debuted in 1999 as a starter, walked more batters than he struck out with the Giants in 2000, spent all of 2001 and most of 2002 in the minors, and finally found his niche in 2003 with a 2.96 ERA out of the bullpen. Thrust into Minnesota's closer role in 2004 after an offseason trade from San Francisco, Nathan saved 375 games with a 2.38 ERA for three teams the next 10 seasons (missing 2010 with Tommy John surgery). Completing the circle, Nathan made the final seven appearances of his career with the 2016 Giants.
A trade-deadline addition to the Giants' rotation in 2014, Jake Peavy helped San Francisco to its third World Series title in five years with a 2.17 ERA in 12 regular-season starts. A three-time All-Star and the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner for San Diego, Peavy went 152-126 with a 3.63 career ERA.
The final former Giant on the ballot was the acquisition for the trade package that included Joe Nathan before the 2004 season: A.J. Pierzynski. In his lone season by the Bay, Pierzynski hit .272/.319/.410 with 11 home runs in 510 plate appearances as San Francisco narrowly missed the playoffs. The durable backstop played for a total of 19 years with seven franchises, notching a .280 average and 188 career homers. He was known as a player who exploited rules and attempted sleight-of-hand to fool umpires and opponents.
To keep up with all of these former Giants' chances of making the Hall of Fame in 2022, follow Ryan Thibodaux on Twitter. For nearly a decade, Thibodaux has been collecting ballots posted by writers in the lead-up to, and following, the late-January announcements of each year's class. The 2022 voting results will be announced Tuesday, January 25.