Over the next month, LWOSports will be breaking down the top five MLB players in franchise history for all 30 teams. This article will rank the top five San Francisco Giants players from least to best by who had the biggest impact for the team. You can check out the other series articles here.
The Giants have perhaps one of the richest histories when it comes to legendary players. Even if some of them made headlines for the wrong reasons, the Giants would not be the Giants if not for each of these players. In fact, the team’s legacy is so deep that players such as Mad Bum, Buster, The Freak and Juan Marichal (with ONLY 243 career wins) didn’t make the cut, even though they are first-rate players.
Top Five San Francisco Players
5. Mel Ott
Mel Ott was a patient slugger, which made him dangerous. He hit 511 homers in his career, but what is just as impressive is the fact he walked nearly twice as much as he struck out (1,708 to 896 respectively). Such a good eye led Ott to a career .304 batting average and a .414 on-base percentage. Ott was an eleven-time all-star and received MVP votes 13 times, though he never won. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1951.
4. Christy Mathewson
Christy Mathewson is one of the greatest pitchers who ever picked up a baseball and had numbers that would make today’s pitchers sore just thinking about them. In his 17 year career, Mathewson threw more than 300 innings in a season ELEVEN times (including 390 in 1908). He completed at least 25 games in a season 14 times. He had four seasons of winning at least 30 games, 9 others when he completed at least 20 and had at least five shutouts in nine seasons. With all of those eye-popping numbers, it makes one wonder how many Cy Young Awards he would have if that award existed in his day (the award was first handed out in 1956). By the time he was done, Mathewson won 373 games and had a .665 winning percentage.
3. Willie McCovey
Barry Bonds hit a lot of baseballs into McCovey Cove over the right-field fence. Willie McCovey like would have hit his share that way as well, if the Giants played in their current stadium back in his day. All McCovey did in his 22-year career was hit 521 homers, make six All-Star teams, win an MVP Award and receive MVP votes nine other times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986 with (only) 81.4% of the vote.
2. Barry Bonds
Willie Mays‘ godson finishes in a close second, but with a much more complicated legacy. There is no doubt Barry Bonds was likely a Hall of fame caliber player before being accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. He was a four-time 30-30 man, and a one time 40-40 guy. Along with his rising home run totals, the number of walks he received each year was mind-boggling. In 2004, he led the majors in walks with 232, which included 120 intentional walks. Bonds holds the record for most career homers with 762, career walks (2,558) and career intentional walks (688). He is a seven-time MVP, and a two-time runner-up. However, steroid suspicions have kept him out of the Hall of Fame for now.
1. Willie Mays
Willie Mays, the “Say Hey” kid. His name is enough to put his face on any Mount Rushmore of baseball legends. Mays hit 660 career homers, is one of only six players in baseball history to hit at least 500 career homers and collect at least 3,000 career hits (the others are Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez). He won two MVP Awards, received MVP votes 13 other times, and made 20 All-Star teams. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1979 with (only) 94.7% of the vote.
The Giants have so many players who could have made this list, which is why it felt like someone was being left out while writing this column. Truth be told, many of the players not on the list of greatest Giants ever would easily make the top five of other teams such as Matt Williams, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Will Clark and Tim Lincecum. You know this team has such a deep history of legendary players when players like these don’t make the cut.
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