Who are the best players in the history of the Giants franchise?
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Like the franchise’s longstanding rivals, the Dodgers, the Giants storied baseball history has moments etched in infamy in both New York and California. And with that type of baseball royalty—eight World Series championships and 23 National League pennants—there is a handful of Hall of Fame talent. From Mel Ott to Willie Mays to Barry Bonds and so on, it’s an impressive list, making for a few difficult decisions when selecting an all-time lineup.
Here are our picks for the best nine (plus a few more spots) in San Francisco Giants history.
1B: Willie McCovey
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Hall of Famer Willie McCovey hit 521 home runs in his legendary career. Homage is still paid to the power-hitting lefty with “McCovey Cove” beyond the right file wall at the Giants’ current ballpark.
2B; Jeff Kent
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
This was a tough one but Jeff Kent gets the edge. He hit 175 home runs and 247 doubles in six seasons as a Giant. Kent earned three consecutive All-Star selections from 1999-2001 and edged Barry Bonds for the National League MVP Award in 2000. He gets the slimmest of nods over Frankie Frisch, who spent eight seasons as a Giant and 11 with the Cardinals.
SS: Travis Jackson
Travis Jackson spent his 15-year career with the New York Giants, batting .291 with 1,326 games played at shortstop.
3B: Matt Williams
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Matt Williams was a four-time All-Star as a Giant (five overall) and three-time Gold Glove winner in San Francisco (four overall). He led the NL in RBIs in 1990 and home runs in 1994.
OF: Willie Mays
The great Willie Mays was 24-time All-Star — 24! — and 12-time Gold Glove winner. He also was the NL batting champ in 1954 and a four-time home run and stolen base champion. A two-time NL MVP and Rookie of the Year in 1951. A legend with 660 home runs and 3,283 hits.
OF: Barry Bonds
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Barry Bonds was a 14-time All-Star, 7-time NL MVP, 8-time Gold Glove winner, and 2-time NL batting and home run champ. He finished with 762 home runs and 514 stolen bases.
OF: Mel Ott
Mel Ott was a 12-time All-Star and led the NL six times in home runs, finishing with 511. He had a career average of .304 with 2,876 hits and 1,860 RBI.
C: Buster Posey
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Buster Posey was a six-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010 and NL MVP in 2012. Now that he has hung up the cleats, we can look back and appreciate what Posey meant not only to the Giants but the fans—for all the accolades, it’s impossible to pencil in any other Giants catcher other than No. 28.
P: Christy Mathewson
How about going 373-188 from 1900-1916? Different era, sure, but Christy Mathewson had a 2.13 ERA in 4,788.2 innings. And he struck out 2,507. There have been other great Giants hurlers—Juan Marichal and current-era star Madison Bumgarner to name two—but Mathewson is incomparable.
RP: Rod Beck
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Rod Beck earned three All-Star appearances and drew NL MVP votes in 1993 when he racked up a franchise-record 48 saves for the Giants. He had 199 saves over seven seasons in San Francisco.
Manager: John McGraw
Second all-time on the managerial win list, John McGraw (pictured, right) was a three-time World Series champion with the Giants. McGraw won 2,583 games as Giants skipper. Bruce Bochy also won three World Series but, surprisingly, his record with SF was below .500.
Other all-time starting lineups: