San Francisco Giants: The 15 Most Underrated Giants of All-Time
The San Francisco Giants have a rich history of talented ball players who have brought their fans thrills and unforgettable moments on the diamond.
Many of these players were unsung heroes during their time, or for some other reason didn't garner the attention their accomplishments may have deserved.
Here are the 15 most underrated players in Giants history.
Monte Irvin was the first black player in Giants franchise history.
An extremely gifted ballplayer, Irvin was often overshadowed by Willie Mays, but he was nonetheless a great talent despite being underrated.
Irvin finished a solid big league career with a .293 batting average 99 homers and 443 RBI. His numbers would have been even better had he not spent most of his career in the Negro Leagues before the integration of Major League Baseball in 1947.
In the New York Giants' historic 1951 season, Irvin hit .312 with 24 homers and a league-leading 121 RBI.
Matt Williams was a throwback to a different time, when a home run trot was quick, with the head down as if to indicate that what had just been accomplished was all in a day's work.
Williams was a longtime staple at third base for the Giants. In 10 seasons with the Giants from 1987 to 1996, Williams was a four-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove award winner.
In 1994 he led the majors with 43 home runs before a players' strike cut the season short. He was on pace to break the then-all-time single season home run record of 61 held by Roger Maris.
With his quiet, soft-spoken and humble demeanor, Williams was a class act. But unfortunately he was underrated and less known outside the Bay Area during his time as a Giant.
Kirk Rueter was one of the most reliable and consistent starting pitchers for the Giants during his time by the Bay from 1996 to 2005, compiling a win-loss record of 105-80, winning some of the biggest games for the franchise over that span.
While he wasn't a superstar, he was a huge component to the Giants' success while wearing the orange and black.
Perhaps better known around the baseball world for his base hit to tie Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS as a member of the Boston Red Sox, beginning what was arguably the greatest comeback in sports history, Bill Mueller spent the five previous seasons with the Giants, from 1996-2000.
Mueller was lesser known then, but he contributed mightily to the Giants' cause nonetheless, hitting .288 during his time in San Francisco and playing a solid third base for the NL West champs in 1997 and 2000.
RIch Aurilia is arguably the best shortstop in Giants history, but he was little known for his baseball prowess outside the Bay Area.
In 12 seasons with San Francisco, Aurilia hit .275 with 143 home runs and 574 RBI.
After leaving San Francisco in 2004, he returned in 2007 and retired as a Giant in 2009.
Marvin Benard was a real spark plug at the top of the lineup for the Giants.
Benard spent his entire nine-season career in San Francisco, finishing with a .271 batting average, 54 home runs and 260 RBI, along with a .343 lifetime on-base percentage.
Now an assistant to Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner was never considered a superstar on the hill for San Francisco during his playing days, but he was an integral veteran on the team and came through when it counted.
In six seasons with the Giants, Gardner was 58-45.
The first active player on this list, Travis Ishikawa will go down as one of the most underrated Giants in history, especially for his role with the 2010 World Series club.
Ishikawa was a fabulous pinch-hitter off the bench for the Giants last season, and with his slick-fielding skills at first base, was Bruce Bochy's go-to man toward the end of virtually every game down the stretch and through the postseason in 2010.
Livan Hernandez was highly touted early in his career, and for good reason.
As a rookie in 1997, he helped the Florida Marlins win their first World Series in franchise history.
Since then, however, he's flown under the radar but has been very good nonetheless, especially while a Giant.
The Giants faced elimination from the postseason, down three games to one, and he pitched brilliantly to help San Francisco force a Game 5, where they would win to advance to the NLCS for the first time in 13 years.
Nate Schierholtz has always been, and remains, a player with great skill and potential whose talents are underrated.
Schierholtz has finally begun to get consistent playing time, and has shown what he is capable of as an everyday player.
Schierholtz is currently hitting .277 with seven home runs and 39 RBI. He's come through with countless clutch hits, including two walk-off RBI so far in 2011.
Bengie Molina had a solid big league career, including some memorable moments with the San Francisco Giants.
Molina is perhaps best known for being one of three brothers who all became major league catchers, but his greatest legacy from his time as a Giant could be his cultivation of a young pitching staff, including the guidance of youngsters Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in their formative years.
Giants fans can thank Molina in part for what has become one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
As a Giant, Molina also produced offensively, hitting .276 with 58 homers and 273 RBI in four seasons in San Francisco.
Stan "The Man" Javier was another Giant who, despite not being a superstar like longtime teammate Barry Bonds, was a great clubhouse presence as well as a talented ballplayer in his own right.
In four seasons in San Francisco, Javier had a .360 on-base percentage and played a stellar center field.
Tim Worrell, as many relievers have been, was underrated in his time as a Giant, overshadowed by the man he set the table for so many times, Robb Nen.
But Worrell was a great setup man for the Giants for four seasons.
In 2002, Worrell went 8-2 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.
Randy Winn quietly put together some solid seasons for the Giants from 2005 to 2009, and always seemed to come through with a big hit when San Francisco needed one.
In his five seasons with the Giants, Winn hit .290.