The Top 100 Giants Players of All Time

Joe CasoloCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2010

The Top 100 Giants Players of All Time

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    The New York Giants were established in 1883. In 1958 the club moved out west, becoming who they are today—the San Francisco Giants.

    Along the way, there have been many fun players, many great players. Some players we hated and loved to boo and heckle. Many players stuck around for a season or two at best, while others played their entire career for the Giants.

    Who is your favorite Giants player?

    Giants fans everywhere have their own opinion about how they would rank their favorite players.

    Who is No. 1? What about No. 2? No. 3? This list can go on. How do you rank these players?

    When you think of the all-time great Giants, are you including the New York Giants?

    In the pages to come we will discuss my list of The Top 100 Giants of All Time.

100. Duane Kuiper

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    Starting off our 100 top Giants of all time is none other than Duane Kuiper. Kuiper, or more commonly known as "Kuip," does not have what anyone would call staggering offensive statistics. In fact, he is more known and chided for his lack of power.

    His first career major league home run came after 1,381 at bats. He would never hit another. What he lacked in power, he made up for in fundamental defense. A second baseman by trade, Kuip twice led the AL (as an Indian) in fielding percentage.

    But let's not rob Kuip of any offensive credit, his plate approach spoiled three would-be no-hitters.

    Duane Kuiper is still very much attached to Major League Baseball. Along with his broadcasting partner Mike Krukow, Kuiper has five Emmy's for their work calling Giants games.

    Kuiper will probably be long remembered for this broadcasting work, but something about me just loves his personality. The broken bat baseball card says it all.

99. Atlee Hammaker

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    Atlee Hammaker joined the Giants in 1982, in a three player deal with Kansas City for Vida Blue. Hammaker had a promising future, and indeed made the NL All Star Team in 1983.

    In that year he posted his best ERA of 2.25, with a whip of 1.039. He also only allowed 1.67 walks per nine innings.

    Hammaker was beat up pretty good in that All Star appearance. Shortly after the break Atlee's troubles with the DL would hamper his once bright future.


98. Jim Barr

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    Jim Barr was a work horse for the Giants. He was called up by the Giants to big leagues in 1971, pitching in relief.

    The California native, USC graduate made his MLB debut the same year as other baseball greats such as Chris Speier, Ron Cey, Dave Kingman, Cecil Cooper and Darrell Porter.

    Barr made his own way, as he once retired 41 consecutive batters - setting a major league record that stood for 35 years. 41 batters in a row—that is ownage any big league club would love have.

    As a starter from '73 through '77, he won over 10 games a season and built a strong reputation for a being a fierc competitor. It didn't matter that Barr never pitched a no-hitter, his impressive numbers over his time with the Giants land him firmly in our Top 100.

97. Jonathan Sanchez

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    Jonathan Sanchez. Much too say about the guy. Some good, some not so good. Much to still see from the young Puerto Rican lefty.

    Sanchez joined the Giants in 2006 and has been a starter since. When he is right, there are few pitchers more nasty. And again, with the preface of his 'when he is right...' Sanchez is likely to fan nine or 10 batters and limit a game to run at the most.

    Which brings us to when he is 'not right'. Sanchez seems to have a dual nature. There is the dominant, fire-balling ace. And there is the basket case.

    A bad strike zone, a broken bat bloop with a runner on, or an unlikely double can trigger the downward spiral of this tough pitcher. Sanchez has a reputation for unraveling during high stress innings—becoming his own worst enemy.

    With that being said—on July 10 of 2009 Sanchez claimed the first no-hitter by a Giants pitcher since John Montefusco did it in 1976. When he is right, he is as right as rain. I certainly hope that by the time Sanchez is done, his spot in the top 100 will have jumped quite a few ranks.

96. John Montefusco

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    Speak of the Devil! Scratch that, speak of the Count of Montefusco!

    The Count from New Jersey joined the Giants and made his rookie debut in 1974. 

    His first appearance in relief, beating the hated Dodgers. He also is one of few Giants to homer in his first at bat in the Majors.

    Montefusco could talk the talk, and walk the walk—winning Rookie the Year honors for the NL in 1975.

    Adding to his swagger, Montefusco tossed a no-hitter on September 29, 1976 against the Atlanta Braves.

    His flambouyant ways of calling out players and guaranteeing wins kind of reminds me of another Giants pitcher who recently threw a no-hitter...


95. Randy Moffitt

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    Randy Moffitt joined the Giants in 1972 as a relief pitcher. Being the brother of tennis Star Billie Jean, we're not surprised he heralded from athletic pedigree.

    Moffitt was a sinkerballer, who's right hand delivery could be thrown over hand, 3/4 release and sidearm. Imagine that kind of stuff coming at you late in a game. Forgeddabout it.

    His 15 saves in 1974 do not jump out at us 'modern baseball fans' but they were second in the NL that year. Ask my Granny, pitchers from those days pitched all day, on three days' rest. And if you keep listening, she might say they threw up hill in the snow, bare-footed.

    Randy Moffitt was part of a very dependable and talented bullpen for the Giants, and we're glad to see a sinkerballer in the top 100.

94. Bill Swift

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    1991. Rap music 'cassette tapes' and atrocious fashions once adorned my bedroom closet. Just a year prior that closet door had a poster of Kevin Mitchell. The Giants moved Mitchell for Swift that spring.

    1991—Exit Kevin Mitchell, enter Bill Swift via Seattle. Back then I didn't quite understand the commodity that starting pitching was. Even if I did, Bill Swift was a relief pitcher. Kevin Mitchell was a home run hitter who could catch a fly ball with his bare hand. What more did a snot-nose kid about to graduate high school want?

    As I soon learned, Bill Swift was an ace. The Giants took the wayward reliever from the Mariners and immediately thrust him into the starting rotation. Swift took to starting pitching like nobody's business.

    Swift led the majors with a 2.08 ERA, emerging as one of the best pitchers in the league. I wonder what Kevin Mitchell did that year. Huh? What? Exactly.

    Bill Swift also won 21 games in 1993, before moving on to the Rockies 1995. For the short time Swift was here, he made an enormous impact on the pitching in the NL West. Glad to have watched it.

93. Hoyt Wilhelm

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    Hoyt Wilhelm is remembered among baseball enthusiasts as one of the great knuckleball pitchers of all time.

    Wilhelm began working on his knuckleball pitch in his brief minor league stint before answering the call of our Nation. He served in WWII, and received a purple heart during his participation in the infamous Battle of the Bulge.

    Knuckleballer, war-hero, I like this guy already! Another thing to like—he hit his first home run in his first at bat. Sound familier? It would be his only home run. Guess what Kuip, it didn't him 5 bazillion at bats to do it.

    Wilhelm helped pave the way for what we now refer to as a 'Closer' in the big leagues.

92. Sal Yvars

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    It's not Sal's extensive playing time that impressed me. It sure wasn't his batting average or his zero recorded steals.

    In fact, Yvars was a back up catcher to Westrum on a pretty damned good Giants team.

    Maybe it was his service in WWII as a test dummy for the Air Force. That might be it.

    He did manage to hit .317 in 1951 when he as able to get some playing time.

    What I like most about Sal Yvars, and the major reason he ranks here—he stole signs and relayed them to the batters.

    His best heist of all, Branca's (Dodgers) call for an inside fastball to Thomson in the '51 Pennant epic throw down. Yvar's relayed the pitch to Bobby Thomson, and yes, we all know what happened next as "The Shot Heard Around the World".

    Sal Yvar is the Giants' Prince of Thieves.

91. Dave Koslo

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    Another War time Vet, Dave Koslo. Koslo joined the Army in 1943 as a paratrooper. Although he trained extensively for combat, Koslo never saw much and instead, pitched his way through the war.

    We just don't see athletes answer the call anymore, (RIP, Pat Tillman). It was a different time, a different war, and men were men, and baseball was all the better for the return of American heroes.

    Koslo returned to the Giants in 1946 and led the majors with a 2.50 ERA. He also won game one against the Yankees in the 1951 World Series.

90. Dave Righetti

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    Dave Righetti was already a veteran of the league when he landed in San Franciso. Having seen his best years as a starter pass him by with Yankees, Righetti made a very successful move to the Yanks closing role.

    Righetti became a Giant in 1990. He went to work as the club's closer and set a Major League record for left handed career saves at 238.

    Affectionately known as Rags within the club house, Righetti stayed with the Giants until 1993. He moved around from team to team until retiring in 1995.

    Besides being an efficient closer, Dave Righetti's value with the Giants blossomed in 2000 when he took over as Pitching coach. His knowledge, demeanor and personality are a perfect fit for mentoring San Francisco's pitching staff.

89. Omar Vizquel

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    Eleven Gold Gloves. Let that sink in for a moment, 11. Only one name can possibly come to mind if you're talking about a shortstop—Omar Vizquel.

    Nine consecutive gold gloves. A Major League-leading career fielding percentage of .985. Most consecutive games without an error, most consecutive games at shortstop. The stats are ridiculous, and only watching Vizquel in action was more impressive than the numbers.

    Although his stint with Gigantes was brief, 2005-2008—few Giant fans can recall a more proficient shortstop take the field in recent memory.

88. Shawn Estes

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    Shawn Estes is another well remembered Giant. The California native made his Giants debut in late 1995, and was shelled by the Pirates.

    So it goes for some rookies. He returned to the minors in early '96 before getting called up to face the Dodgers. Anytime a young prospect can work seven shutout innings against the Dodgers, he is going to score points with fans.

    1997 was Estes' best season for San Francisco, going 19-5 with an ERA at an impressive 3.18. That was more than good enough to get him an All Star selection that year.

    Estes had a little life in his bat, driving four home runs in his career, including a Grand Slam. We just love seeing pitcher put the ball over the fence.

87. Joe Nathan

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    Joe Nathan. Why oh why did we ever trade the guy?

    Nathan was drafted by the Giants in 1995 and was converted from a shortstop to pitcher. He spent some time at all minor league levels before making his debut in April of '99.

    Nathan pitched seven shut out innings and picked up his first major league win.

    It was not until Nathan converted in a reliever and eventually a top notch closer did his career really take off. Nathan's ability to come into games and take control made him a valuable asset. He racked up 12 wins as a closer in 2003, the most among relief pitchers.

    Seems like a happy story for San Francisco right? Well... the kick in the groin came when Nathan blew a save in the playoffs against the red hot Marlins. In the off season, Nathan was with dealt with two other pitchers, one them being Francisco Liriano to Minnesota for A.J. Pierzynski.

    Joe Nathan really flourished into of the top closers in the American League thereafter.

    Sigh... A.J.? Really?

86. Terry Kennedy

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    Terry Kennedy was not known for his long tenure with the Giants, but better for his nice offensive approach and solid play behind the dish.

    In just three seasons with the Giants, Kennedy had a World Series appearance under his belt. Although the club was swept by the Athletics in the 1989 World Series, Kennedy was a vital part of the club's success in getting that far. 

85. Jim Hearn

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    Next up Jim Hearn. Or shall we say "Pitching for the New York Giants is Jim Hearn."  Maybe if the year was 1951.

    Hearn was originally a Cardinals' prospect, and after spending three years serving in WWII (starting to see a theme here,) he returned to baseball.

    The New York Giants claimed Hearn off of waivers and never looked back. He won seventeen games that season and brought the Giants back into contention with the rival Dodgers. He defeated the Dodgers 3-1 in game 3 of that historic playoff battle.

    How many pitchers that you know of hit inside-the-park homers? Before writing this, I could not think of one, Hearn had two with Giants. A five-tool pitcher? Now that's what I'm talking about.

84. Red Ames

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    Put on your knickers and top hat, we are going way back with this one.

    Back when players had nicknames and played in cardigans.

    Red Ames began his career with Giants in 1903, coming into prominence in 1905.

    New York had a staff full of contenders, and Ames' 22 wins was great part of that rotation. Featuring an impressive yet often wild curveball, Red helped the New York Giants win the pennant.

    What ties Red Ames to Cy Young? A career ERA of 2.63. He is also tied with Walter Johnson for the most career wild pitches. His reputation for being one of the wildest and unpredictable pitchers kept Ames from achieving stardom.

83. Warren Spahn

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Warren Spahn was already an established ace among pitchers and a decorated war hero. Spahn spent three years in the Army, and was also decorated with a Purple Heart and Bronze star for gallantry at the Battle of the Bulge.

    Spahn in his 19th season, had epic duels with San Francisco's Juan Marichal. Spahn joined the club the following season and finished his career as a San Francisco Giant. 

82. Tito Fuentes

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    Drafted out of Cuba in 1965, Tito Fuentes spent most of his career in San Francisco.

    He had to work at it, being sent down to minors until he was called back up in 1969. Tito was a second baseman by trade, but had to come off the bench as a utility player.

    It was not until '71 before Fuentes earned his spot as the starting second baseman for the Giants. What happened then? The Giants reached NLCS against the Pirates. In fact, in Game 1 of that series, it was Tito's two run homer that helped the Giants win the only game of that series.

    Tito's glove also matured, for two seasons he led the league in errors at his position. The next season he posted a league record .993 fielding percentage.

    Grandma always said defense wins championships. Although Fuentes did not win a 'ship with Giants, he definitely set the bar for his position.

81. Dave Kingman

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    The well-traveled Dave Kingman—some people were just born to have a bat in their hands.

    Kingman came up with the Giants in 1971. The record books list him playing just about every position the Giants had, even pitcher during late innings of painful routs.

    Kingman was gifted with the bat, his glove... mmm not so much. Kingman is among other baseball greats known for hitting over 400 home runs in a career. Yet no Hall of Fame induction, hmm... maybe he should have played more catch.

80. Stu Miller

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    Stu Miller is one of a short list of Giants who played for both New York and San Francisco.

    Miller's record was not a dominate tale, but he did manage a positive win/loss record over 16 years in the bigs, and two All-Star Team appearances.

    In fact, Stu is probably more well known for the infamous balk in the ninth inning of an All-Star Game which eventually cost the game.

    The game was played at Candlestick, and the story goes that a gust of wind caused the slight pitcher to sway during his motion, losing his balance. History calls this the 'embellished' version of the tale, but anyone who ever went to a game at Candlestick may think otherwise.

    Candlestick was great for food wrappers swirling around the diamond, fly balls going every which way, and yes—blowing pitchers off the mound on occasion. Nice park.

79. Jeff Brantley

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    Jeff Brantley is another Giant who came and left fairly quickly.

    He spent five years pitching in San Francisco, and was also a key part of the Giants reaching the World Series in 1989.

    Brantley also earned an All Star appearance as a Giant in 1990.

78. George Davis

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    Getting back into our time machine, we'll take another look at a gem from the New York Giants past.

    George Davis became a Giant in 1893. He batted .355 and racked up impressive numbers in all offensive categories.

    He was a stud outfielder, and later because of his cannon of an arm, moved to shortstop. There he led the league in 1897 in fielding and double plays.

    I really wanted to find a picture from 1893 just for kicks, did they even have camera's back then? One thing is for sure, the Giants had a great player back then.

77. Dave Bancroft

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    And here's another vintage shortstop. This time from the 1920s.

    Dave Bancroft was a solid fielder and an impressive hitter. In four years with New York club, Bancroft batted over .300 three times and finishing at .299 in his first year with Giants.

    Bancroft's nickname was "Beauty". I don't see it, unless they were referring to his fielding. A career fielding percentage of .944 is kind of pretty after all.

76. Rogers Hornsby

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    The way back machine is just getting warmed up. Next on our list of antiques is Rogers "The Rajah" Hornsby.

    A career .358 batter, this middle infielder was indeed a rare breed. He was known for being a player-manager for long stints in his career. Player-managers, what a special time in baseball. Special players indeed.

    Can anyone imagine Bruce Bochy catching and managing a game? Can you see him calling time out to waltz over to Rags and Wotus to discuss game strategy?


75. Benito Santiago

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    In 2001 the Giants signed another veteran who was perhaps in the twilight of his career.

    You wouldn't know Benito Santiago was in the twilight by watching him play. He was as good as ever behind the plate, still able to throw out base-stealers from his knees.

    Benito shared the coveted the Willie Mac Award in 2001 with Mark Gardner. An award recognizing his spirit, leadership and love of the game.

    Santiago was a crucial part of the Giants push for the World Series in 2002. He earned the NLCS MVP award.



74. Dusty Rhodes

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