Giant Legend Willie Mays Heads Our List
The San Francisco Giants are one of the most storied franchises in all of baseball. Since the team moved west in 1958, the Giants have had some of the greatest sluggers in the history of baseball.
There are Hall of Fame players and several All-Stars who have donned the orange and black.
Let's take a position by position look at the greatest hitters in San Francisco Giants history.
Don Robinson was an accomplished pitcher and good hitter
My vote for the top hitting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants is Don "Caveman" Robinson. He was a solid pitcher for the Giants from 1987-1991, compiling a 42-33 record. Robinson also was a very strong hitter who even pinch hit from time to time.
The "Caveman" as he was affectionately known for his large, lumbering frame, could definitely hit. During his five seasons in San Francisco, Robinson only batted .170, but he had prestigious power. In 247 at bats, Robinson belted seven home runs and had 23 RBI.
Buster Posey burst onto the scene in 2010
The field of great hitting Giant catchers is not deep, but that in no way diminishes the ability of Buster Posey. After a late season call up in 2009, he burst onto the scene in late May of 2010.
Posey has played a total of 160 games as a Giant, basically one complete season. Over that span, he has hit .294 with 22 home runs and 88 RBI. Posey's on-base percentage is .353 and he has an excellent OPS of .853.
Posey was voted the National League Rookie of the Year in 2010 because of his excellent offensive contribution and also the way he handled the Giants' pitching staff. One of the main reasons the Giants have had so much trouble scoring runs in 2011 is the loss of Posey for the season, due to injury.
In his prime, Willie McCovey was the most feared left handed hitter in the National League. He stood an imposing 6'4" and was a long lanky player. His nicknames of "stretch" or "Big Mac" fit him perfectly.
McCovey was the clean up hitter, batting behind Willie Mays. There were no 3-4 hitters in the game that were more imposing than these two.
McCovey broke into the Major Leagues with the Giants in 1959. He would spend parts of four decades with the Giants, retiring in 1980. In his 19 years with the Giants, McCovey hit .274 with an OBP of .375 and slugging percentage of .524. His OPS was an incredible .889.
McCovey played 19 of his 23 years with the Giants and hit .274 with 469 home runs and 1,388 RBI. He was a six time All Star and won Rookie of the Year honors in 1959. McCovey was the NL MVP in 1969.
McCovey was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Honorable Mention: Orlando Cepeda—1958-1966. Hit .308 with 226 home runs and 767 RBI. Led the league with 46 HRs and 142 RBI in 1961. Hall of Fame member.
Honorable Mention: Will Clark—1986-1993. Hit .299 with 176 home runs and 709 RBI.
Jeff Kent won the MVP for the Giants in 2000
Jeff Kent played for the Giants from 1997-2002. He hit .297 with 175 home runs and 689 RBI. Kent drove in over 100 RBI in five of those six seasons.
In an era where second basemen were typically not power hitters, Kent was the exception. He had an MVP season in 2000, when he hit .334 with 33 home runs and 125 RBI.
Kent and Barry Bonds made an excellent tandem in the heart of the batting order for the Giants. Although the two didn't get along particularly well, they wreaked havoc on opposing pitchers.
Matt Williams played ten seasons for the Giants
Matt Williams was your typical power hitting third baseman. He played for the Giants for 10 years, from 1987-1996.
Williams hit .264 with 247 home runs and 732 RBI. He was a four time All Star selection and led the league in home runs in 1994 with 43. He also led the league in RBI with 122, in 1990.
Williams was traded following the 1996 season for Jeff Kent, who made our list as a second baseman.
Rich Aurilia gets the nod as our top shortstop
Rich Aurilia was a hard-hitting shortstop in an era where most shortstops were defensive specialists. Aurilia was a decent fielder, but where he made his mark was with the bat.
Aurilia originally played nine seasons for the Giants, from 1995-2003. After moving on to Seattle in 2004, Aurilia returned to finish out his career in San Francisco from 2007-2009.
Aurilia hit .275 with 143 home runs and 547 RBI with the Giants. He had a breakout year in 2001, when he had 206 hits to lead the league. That season, Aurilia hit .324 with 37 home runs and 97 RBI.
Bobby Bonds played and later coached for the Giants
Bobby Bonds was a great athlete and was often compared to Willie Mays. This was an unfair comparison, but just being mentioned in the same sentence tells you just how good Bonds was.
He joined the Giants in 1968 and played in San Francisco for seven years, culminating after the 1974 season. Bonds was a true five tool player and it was fun to see him and Mays patrol the outfield at spacious Candlestick Park.
Bonds hit .273 with 186 home runs and 552 RBI. He batted leadoff for most of his time in San Francisco, which also cut down on his RBI opportunities. Bonds also stole 263 bases in those seven years.
Honorable Mention: Jack Clark played for the Giants from 1975-1984. Known as "Jack the Ripper", he hit .277 with 163 home runs and 595 RBI. Clark was the best player on some mediocre and bad teams.
Willie Mays was the greatest all around player in baseball history, in my opinion. He was a true five tool player and if you consider his mind and understanding of the game, a six tool player. Everything he did was outstanding and he had a flair about him that transcended the game. He is a living legend.
The "Sey Hey Kid" played for the Giants from 1951-1972. He missed nearly two full years in the prime of his career due to military service or his stats would have been even more amazing.
Playing in the spacious Polo Grounds in New York and Candlestick Park in San Francisco also cut down on his numbers. I have no doubt that if Mays had played in more hitter friendly ballparks he would have been the one to break Babe Ruth's home run record.
Mays hit .304 for the Giants, along with 646 home runs out of his total of 660. He also drove in 1,859 runs. Mays also stole 336 bases as a Giant.
During Mays' time specifically in San Francisco beginning in 1958, he had 459 home runs and 1,350 RBI.
Mays was an 18-time All-Star with the Giants, 20 times overall. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1951 and was a two time MVP. Mays was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
Barry Bonds was the best hitter of his era
Barry Bonds was the best hitter of his era. Sure, we can say steroids helped and they probably did, but there were just as many pitchers on the stuff as hitters. Bonds was a superstar long before he ever became involved with performance enhancing drugs, (PEDs).
It was only after he saw all the adulation about players like Sosa and McGwire that I believe he began taking PEDs. Bonds knew he was far superior than these players and could not bear to see them get all the recognition.
Bonds grew up in the Bay Area and came back to San Francisco in 1993, after seven years with the Pirates. He played for the Giants until 2007, a span of 15 years. While with the Giants, Bonds compiled gaudy numbers. He hit .312 with 586 home runs and 1,440 RBI. He also had 263 steals for the Giants.
The fact that he generated these enormous stats was even more impressive considering that teams routinely pitched around him. Bonds led the league in walks in 11 out of those 15 years.
Bonds broke the single season home run record with 73, back in 2001. He also broke the all time home run record with a career total of 762.
Bonds was a 12-time All-Star selection and also won MVP honors five times as a Giant. In reality, he could easily have won the MVP award a couple more times, but the writers gave the award to someone else. Bonds generally had a frosty relationship with the media and that surely cost him votes.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Mitchell was a Giants slugger from 1987-1991, just under five full seasons. During his time in San Francisco, Mitchell hit .278 with 143 home runs and 411 RBI. He had a monster year in 1989, when he hit 47 home runs, drove in 125 runs and was named MVP.
Barry Bonds, the best hitter in San Francisco Giants' history
Who was the greatest hitter in San Francisco Giants' history?
I fully believe Willie Mays was the greatest all around player in the history of the game, but as far as just pure offense as a Giant, I must choose Barry Bonds.
Nobody was pitched around more than Bonds. He might see one decent pitch a game and he would blast it. He was the one player who if you knew his turn in the order was coming up, you would wait to go to the concession stand because you did not want to miss his at bat.
Bonds' numbers were Hall of Fame worthy before he got involved with PEDs. I do not see him being elected in his first few years of eligibility, however.
The San Francisco Giants have featured some of the greatest hitters of our time. I feel fortunate to have seen all of them play at one time or another. It was fun putting this list together and remembering some of the great moments these players gave us.