Willie Mays and Barry Bonds, two of the best ever
It is with great pleasure that I get to rank the 25 greatest outfielders in San Francisco Giants history. I was privileged to see almost every one of these players don the orange and black.
My criteria for inclusion on this list is that the player must have played for the San Francisco Giants and that outfield was their primary position.
For these reasons, I have left off such greats as Mel Ott, a Hall of Fame member who played for the New York Giants. Hall of Fame members Willie McCovey, who played 275 games in the outfield for the Giants and Orlando Cepeda, who played 231 games as an outfielder are also omitted.
The other player I would have included was Jim Ray Hart who played 264 games in the outfield for San Francisco, but whose primary position was third base.
One-year wonders, like Reggie Sanders, who hit 23 home runs and drove in 85 runs in 2002, were also omitted.
This list consists of a collection of varied talents, from big sluggers to top average hitters, to speed guys and top defensive players. Some combined multiple talents and a select few combined them all.
The following men get my vote for the top 25 outfielders in San Francisco Giants history.
Stan Javier did the little things well
Stan Javier played for the Giants from 1996-99. Over those four seasons, Javier played in 460 games as a Giants outfielder.
Javier did not excel at any one thing, but he did everything fairly well. He was not spectacular, but steady, and the more I researched the potential players for this list, the more I came to realize that Javier belonged.
Javier hit .282 with 17 home runs and 151 RBI. He also had 73 stolen bases and an OBP of .343. He was also a very solid defensive player.
Garry Maddox played a little over three seasons with the Giants, from 1972-1975. He broke into the big leagues with San Francisco but was traded to the Phillies in May of 1975, for first baseman Willie Montanez. Maddox was a decent player for the Giants, but it was in Philadelphia where he became a star.
As a Giant, in 421 games Maddox hit .287 with 32 home runs and 188 RBI. He will always be remembered for his long graceful strides roaming the outfield at Candlestick Park. Maddox looked like a gazelle in center field as he tracked down fly balls all over the outfield.
Candy Maldonado played right field for the Giants
Candy Maldonado played 522 games in the outfield for the Giants, from 1986-89. Over those four seasons, Maldonado hit .256 with 59 home runs and 279 RBI.
A solid offensive threat with power, Maldonado often incurred the wrath of Giants fans for his below-average outfield play. Playing in the wind at Candlestick Park also hurt him defensively.
Darren Lewis patrolled center field for the Giants
Darren Lewis earns his way on our list primarily based on his speed and defense. Lewis set a Major League Baseball record by going 392 games without making an error. He also won a Gold Glove for his outstanding defense in center field, in 1994.
Lewis played five seasons for the Giants from 1991-95. He was not a strong hitter, as he batted only .249 over that period. His nine home runs and 126 RBI were also nothing to get excited about. Lewis used his speed to steal 138 bases in his 496 games for the Giants.
I actually met Lewis several years ago, as he coached my daughter's YMCA youth basketball team, when his young son played. He was a very soft spoken gentleman and a really nice guy.
Willie McGee came to the Giants after nine distinguished seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. McGee joined the Giants in 1991 and played four full seasons in San Francisco.
McGee was not the same player he was in his earlier years with the Cardinals, but he was still very productive. He hit for a .301 average, with 14 home runs and 148 RBI in 444 games with the Giants.
McGee still had very good speed, although he did not steal that many bases with the Giants, only 43. Defensively, McGee used his speed to cover a lot of ground in left field for the Giants.
He was also a fan favorite as he grew up across the bay, in Richmond, CA.
Marquis Grissom played well in San Francisco
Marquis Grissom played three seasons for the Giants from 2003-2005, and played in 338 games over that span. By the time Grissom joined the Giants, he had already played 14 big league seasons and was 36 years of age.
Grissom had two very good years, then struggled with injuries in his final season. In his time with the Giants, Grissom batted .281 with 44 home runs and 184 RBI. Although only 5'11" and 190 pounds, Grissom did have some pop in his bat as his .441 SLG attests.
Willie Kirkland played 394 games for the Giants from 1958-1960. He is the only player on our list that I do not recall ever seeing play.
Kirkland was very productive in his three seasons in San Francisco. He batted .261 with 57 home runs and 189 RBI. His SLG of .459 showed that Kirkland had good power.
Cody Ross was the NLCS hero for the Giants in 2010
Cody Ross has only been with the Giants for a year and a half, joining the team in the middle of 2010. He has had a very undistinguished regular season with the Giants over his 154 games as a Giants outfielder. Ross has hit only .247 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI, during his regular season action.
However, Ross earned his way on our list for his great postseason in 2010. Ross won the NLCS MVP award, as he led the Giants to their series victory over the Phillies. In the NLCS, Ross hit .350 with a .435 OBP, .950 SLG and 1.385 OPS. He hit three home runs and had five RBI against Philadelphia.
For the entire 2010 postseason, Ross hit .294 with five home runs and 10 RBI. He was a key member of the Giants' successful World Series run.
Bobby Murcer broke into the major leagues with the New York Yankees in 1965. He had the misfortune of following the great Mickey Mantle and he just could not live up to the hype and fan expectations that he would be the next Mantle.
Murcer came to San Francisco via a trade for Bobby Bonds. Murcer played only two seasons with the Giants, from 1975-76. He never seemed happy in San Francisco and often complained about the harsh elements of Candlestick Park.
Murcer did have two good seasons, batting .279 with 34 home runs and 181 RBI in his 294 games as a Giant. He also compiled an impressive OBP of .381 and SLG of .432. His OPS was a very strong .813.
Murcer was traded to the Cubs following the 1976 season and ultimately finished out his career with the Yankees. By this time, the Yankees fans appreciated Murcer for who he was, and not that he wasn't Mickey Mantle.
After his retirement, the Yankees fans continued to form a genuine kinship with Murcer, who unfortunately passed away in 2008, at the age of 62.
Kenny Henderson played left field for eight seasons with the Giants, from 1965-1972. He was smooth in the field and a very solid overall player.
Henderson played 674 games for the Giants and hit .256, with 61 home runs and 270 RBI. His OBP of .342, nearly 90 points above his career batting average with the Giants, showed his discipline and selective approach at the plate.
Glenallen Hill blasts one a long way
Glenallen Hill was a big and powerful hitter with power to spare. He played 358 games for the Giants, from 1995-1997.
Over that three-year span, Hill blasted some of the most majestic home runs by anyone not named Bonds. Hill hit .268, with 54 home runs and 217 RBI. His SLG of .473 was excellent.
Hill was a below average defensive player and was a designated hitter in his later years, as he finished out his career in the American League. Hill is currently a coach for the Colorado Rockies.
Marvin Benard had a good career with the Giants
When I first began the research for this article, I did not expect Marvin Benard to be this high on our list. However, you can't argue with the numbers and his longevity in a Giants uniform.
Benard played nine seasons with the Giants, from 1995-2003. His 891 games played, ranks fifth on our list of top outfielders.
Benard hit .271 with 54 home runs and 260 RBI. Primarily a leadoff hitter, Benard had an OBP of .343 and stole 105 bases. He had a penchant for swinging at pitches up in his eyes, otherwise he could have had an OBP another 40 or 50 points higher.
Randy Winn was also an excellent right fielder
Randy Winn did a lot of different things for the Giants. He came to the San Francisco midway through the 2005 season and played through 2009 with the Giants.
Over his 666 games as a Giant, Winn hit .290 with 51 home runs and 262 RBI. He had good speed and usually hit in the leadoff spot, where his .345 OPB and 73 stolen bases were a big asset.
Winn also played an excellent right field and should have won a Gold Glove or two, in my opinion. With a cavernous right center field, quirky outfield fence and the wind at AT&T Park, Winn made a very tough right field look easy.
Moises Alou made the All-Star team in 2005
When the Giants acquired Moises Alou in 2005, their approach was to team him with Barry Bonds and form an imposing heart of the batting order. Unfortunately, the strategy was largely unsuccessful as injuries to Bonds in 2005 and Alou in 2006 derailed the plan.
Alou played only those two seasons with the Giants and in only 221 games. He was quite productive when he was healthy and in the lineup, however.
Alou batted .312 with 41 home runs and 137 RBI. He also had an excellent OBP of .379 and SLG of .541. His OPS of .920 was tremendous. Alou was also an All-Star in 2005.
He is from the famous Alou family of outstanding baseball players. His dad is Felipe Alou, who was his manager during Moises' time in San Francisco. Moises' uncles were also former Giants, Matty and Jesus Alou.
Gary Matthews, or "Sarge," as he was commonly known, was originally drafted by the Giants in 1968. He made it to the major leagues and played for the Giants from 1972-1976.
In 594 games as a Giant, Matthews hit .287 with 64 home runs and 296 RBI. He also had an OBP of .367 and SLG of .443, which made his OPS an impressive .810.
Matthews won Rookie of the Year honors in 1973. He ultimately played 16 seasons in the majors and now has a son, Gary Matthews Jr., in the big leagues.
Brett Butler was an excellent leadoff hitter
Brett Butler played 471 games for the Giants from 1988-1990. Primarily a center fielder, Butler was an excellent leadoff hitter and catalyst at the top of the lineup for the Giants.
Butler was a slap hitter who liked to spray the ball around and he also used the bunt extremely well in his arsenal. He hit .293 in his three years with the Giants, and had 13 home runs and 123 RBI. Butler had very little power, as those numbers attest, but his game was getting on base and speed.
Butler had an OBP of .381 and stole 125 bases as a Giant. He also scored over 100 runs in each of his three years in San Francisco. His 109 runs scored in 1988 led the league, as did his 192 hits in 1990.
Not blessed with a strong throwing arm, Butler used his speed very well and did a good job roaming center field at the spacious and windy Candlestick Park.
Felipe Alou played for and managed the Giants
Felipe Alou is a baseball "lifer." He played 719 games for the Giants from 1958-1963. He also managed the Giants from 2003-2006. At age 76, Alou is currently an adviser on the staff of the Giants.
As a Giant, Alou hit .286 with 85 home runs and 325 RBI. He also had a very strong SLG of .466. Alou was a National League All-Star in 1962. He was a very solid player throughout his 17-year MLB career.
Alou was the oldest of the three Alou brothers, who all played in the major leagues. In fact, Felipe, Matty and Jesus all played for the Giants in 1963 and once appeared in the same outfield together.
As the Giants manager, Alou also managed his son Moises, in San Francisco, in 2005 and 2006.
Ellis Burks only played two seasons in San Francisco
Ellis Burks played only two and a half seasons for the Giants. He joined the team midway through the 1998 season and played through 2000. Although his tenure as a Giant was short and Burks only played 284 games, he made a big impact.
By the time he joined the Giants, Burks' knees were giving him a lot of trouble, which cost him his speed and limited his range defensively.
Burks batted .312 with 60 home runs and 214 RBI. He was the ideal No. 5 hitter behind Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds. His OBP of .404 and SLG of .568 were outstanding. These numbers combined to make his OPS an equally outstanding .972.
Chili Davis broke into the major leagues with the Giants in late 1981. He played in San Francisco for seven seasons, through 1987. Davis was a five-tool player and was unfairly compared to Willie Mays, a comparison he could never live up to.
Davis played in 874 games for the Giants and hit .267 with 101 home runs and 418 RBI. His OBP was .340. He also used his excellent speed to steal 95 bases.
Davis was a two-time All-Star with the Giants in 1984 and 1986. He went on to play a total of 19 seasons in the majors.
Jeffrey Leonard played left field for the San Francisco Giants from 1981-1988. Over that span he participated in 789 games and become one of the most well-liked Giants ever.
The "Hac Man" Leonard was a menacing figure who had one of the most intimidating scowls in the history of the game. Often viewed as surly and moody, Leonard was a consistent producer for the Giants.
Leonard is also known for his "One Flap Down" home run trot that he debuted in the 1987 playoffs against the Cardinals. During that playoff series, which the Giants lost in seven games, Leonard hit four home runs.
As a Giant, Leonard hit .275 with 99 home runs and 435 RBI. He also stole 115 bases during his time in San Francisco.
Jack Clark was the top slugger for the Giants during his 10 years in San Francisco, from 1975-1984.
Jack "The Ripper" hit .277 with 163 home runs and 595 RBI in his 1,044 games with the Giants. Clark had a strong OBP at .359 and SLG of .477, which adds up to an OPS of .836.
Clark was an All-Star for the Giants in 1978 and 1979.
Bobby Bonds played and coached for the Giants
Bobby Bonds broke in with the Giants in 1968 and played for seven years in San Francisco. Bonds was an exciting five-tool player, who played next to, and learned from, the great Willie Mays.
Bonds played a total of 1,014 games for the Giants and batted .273 with 186 home runs and 552 RBI. Bonds hit leadoff for most of his Giants career and, although he struck out a lot, also drew his share of walks. His OBP was a very respectable .356.
Bonds also showed his power with a SLG of .478. His OPS of .834 was excellent. Bonds utilized his speed on the bases and had 186 steals. With 765 runs scored, Bonds averaged well over 100 runs scored per year, in his seven seasons with the Giants.
Defensively, Bonds used his speed and long strides to track down balls in the spacious outfield of Candlestick Park. He also had a good arm and was not afraid to show it off. He won Gold Gloves in 1971 and 1974.
Bonds was a two-time National League All-Star selection, while with the Giants in 1971 and 1973.
Following his 14-year playing career, Bonds was a coach for the Giants for several years. He is the father of former Giants superstar Barry Bonds.
Kevin Mitchell was a feared slugger
Kevin Mitchell was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball when he played for the Giants. He had tremendous power and hit some of the most prestigious home runs ever seen by Giants fans.
Mitchell came to the Giants midway through the 1987 season. He played in San Francisco through the 1991 season, a tenure that saw him play 624 games in the orange and black.
Mitchell hit .278 with 143 home runs and 411 RBI. Although blessed with immense power, Mitchell also drew his share of walks to fashion an OBP of .355. His SLG of .536 gave him an OPS of .891.
Mitchell was an All-Star for the Giants in 1989 and 1990. He was also the NL MVP for his exploits during the 1989 season. That year, Mitchell hit .291 with a league-leading 47 home runs and 125 RBI. His OPS that year was an incredible 1.023.
Defensively, Mitchell was average at best, but he will be seen on highlight reels forever with his bare-hand catch while racing into the left field corner and reaching up with his bare hand to snag a line drive.
Barry Bonds, the all-time home run king
Barry Bonds played for the Giants from 1993-2007. Over that 15-year span, Bonds became the all-time home run leader with 762 and also the single-season home run king with 73 in 2001. He played 1,976 games for the Giants.
As a Giant, Bonds hit .312 with 586 home runs and 1,440 RBI. He had an OBP of .477 and SLG of .666, making his OPS an incredible 1.143.
Bonds was the most feared slugger of his time. He also led the league in walks on 12 different occasions.
As a Giant, Bonds was a 12-time All-Star and he made 14 All-Star selections in total. He also won seven MVP awards, five as a Giant. In reality, there were probably a couple of other seasons that Bonds should have won the award.
Bonds also stole 263 bases as a Giant and 514 total. He is the only player in baseball history with over 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases.
Defensively, Bonds won eight Gold Gloves, with five of them coming as a Giant. He studied the opposing hitters extensively and was a master at positioning himself to be where the batter would tend to hit the ball. Bonds did not have a strong arm, but made up for it with accuracy and a very quick release.
Many people will say steroids were the main reason for Bonds' success, but one must remember that Bonds was a Hall of Fame-caliber player before the steroid era. In addition, there were, percentage wise, probably as many pitchers as hitters on the juice.
I actually rate Bonds as a slightly better hitter than Willie Mays, but Mays was better in all other facets of the game.
Willie Mays is the greatest Giants outfielder of all time and arguably the greatest all around baseball player ever. The "Say Hey Kid" began his career with the New York Giants in 1951 and was the Rookie of the Year.
Mays played for the Giants franchise until mid-1972, when cash-strapped owner Horace Stoneham traded him to the Mets. He played a total of 2,857 games for the Giants of both San Francisco and New York.
Mays hit .304 and had 646 home runs and 1,859 RBI as a Giant. He hit a total of 660 home runs for his career, good for fourth on the all-time list behind Bonds, Aaron and Ruth.
I firmly believe that had Mays not missed the better part of two full years due to military service and had he not played his home games in the vast Polo Grounds and Candlestick Park, he would have easily broken Babe Ruth's record first and also probably hit somewhere around 800 home runs.
Mays led the league in home runs on four separate occasions and was a 20-time All-Star selection, 19 of those as a Giant. Mays also earned MVP honors in 1954 and 1965.
In addition to being a great hitter, Mays had excellent speed and was an outstanding base runner. He was always able to take the extra base when he wanted and also stole 338 bases.
Defensively, Mays was outstanding. He also had an excellent throwing arm and won 12 Gold Gloves.
Mays often said he was a six-tool player because he could also beat you with his head. He had an uncanny feel for the game and a knack for knowing where the opposition would hit the ball, when to take the extra base, what pitches were coming and so much more.
At the age of 80, Willie Mays is a living legend and is often seen at AT&T Park for special ceremonies and important games.