San Francisco Giants: Top 10 Second Baseman in Giants’ History
The San Francisco Giants were founded in 1883. They have won more games than any team in Major League baseball history. This is our next All-Time list of the off-season, looking at the greatest second baseman in team history.
The San Francisco Giants have had some fantastic players overall. And as we build up to our best all time 25 man roster, we have to give honorable mention to those at every position. This one will look specifically at those who played second base for the Giants, in both New York and San Francisco.
Some of our previous lists, such as the top ten first-baseman and top ten catchers in Giants history, had one of the current Giants on the list. Well, second base is not going to be one of those positions. Some notable outsiders on the list? Joe Panik is 15th all time with a 5.5 WAR and Duane Kuiper was 29th all time with a -1.1. WAR. Panik though has really only enjoyed less than three full seasons as a pro, giving him plenty of time over his career to crack this list. You’ll see just how close he is when we introduce number ten. If Panik has a really good season again this year, he just might jump into the top ten. Here we go!
Number 10: Mickey Witek (1940-1947), 7.6 WAR
Mickey Witek played eight full seasons with the New York Giants, spanning from 1940-1947. Witek’s slash-line over that time was a decent .277/.323/.346/.670. He only hit 22 home-runs over his time with the Giants but brought in a decent amount of runs. Witek played all over the infield in his time with the Giants, playing not only second base, but spending time at short-stop and third base.
Number 9: Tito Fuentes (1965-1974), 8.2 WAR
Fuentes was a fantastic Giant, and really a historic ballplayer in his own right. While he was only worth a win per season he was with the Giants, Fuentes still left a lasting legacy. His bat was OK, amassing 1000 hits on the nose in his time as a Giant, but he did set the National League record for fielding percentage in a season back in 1973. Fuentes was a great Giant overall, and still is with the team in the broadcasting capacity. Fuentes was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. While his numbers as a Giant don’t blow you away, his overall impact on the franchise is more than most on this list.
Number 8: Ron Hunt, (1968-1970), 9.7 WAR
Ron Hunt only spent a total of three seasons as a Giant, but boy did he have an impact. Averaging just over three wins per season is a good mark. Overall, his numbers were really similar to those of Tito Fuentes. However, Hunt definitely got on base more than Fuentes. Over his total, 12 years as a pro, Hunt’s slash-line was .273/.368/.347/.715. What’s more notable? He struck out nearly 200 times less than he walked, giving him a K/BB ratio of 1.45/1.
Number 7: Ray Durham, 2003-2008, 10.4 WAR.
Averaging just over two wins a season, Durham also had a decent time in San Francisco. Durham spent a significant portion of his career with the White-Sox, but enjoyed a good ride in San Francisco. Durham’s best season of his career came with the Giants in 2006, where he hit 26 home-runs and had 93 RBI, while putting up a .293/.360/.538/.898 slash-line. In his time with the Giants, he had a .274/.348/.448/.796 OPS and blasted 74 home-runs. He also hit 142 doubles in his five seasons. Durham’s clout at the plate was a significant reason for his good WAR, that and he didn’t have any seasons with less than 100 games played in the orange and black.
Number 6. Eddie Stanky, 1950-1951,13.4 WAR
Stanky’s name definitely does not describe his play in two seasons with the Giants. Eddie Stanky averaged above 6.5 wins per season with the Giants, which so far is the highest on this list. At first glance, an OPS of .822 is the second highest on this list. While it might scream “power hitter” it’s quite the opposite. Stanky only hit 71 XBH in his two seasons. So how on earth does that OPS get that high with such a little amount of XBH? Well, his career OBP was a whopping .410. In his two years with the Giants, he had 271 BB and only 113 K’s. Averaging just under 190 hits a season, Stanky was a consistent on base threat during his two years, and that definitely helped shoot his WAR up to these levels.
Number 5: Danny Richardson, (1884-1891), 15.8 WAR
Danny Richardson was the only member of the list that didn’t play past in the 20th century or later. Richardson’s first season was actually the franchises last season being known as the New York Gothams. Richardson stole nearly 150 bases in his time with the Giants, and might actually have more. The stolen base didn’t have a box score place until 1887. Richardson was also a decent fielder. His offensive prowess was probably a smaller contributor to his career war than both his fielding and base-running.
Number 4: Jeff Kent, (1997-2002), 31.4 WAR
Jeff Kent marks a significant jump in career WAR with the Giants. From 15.8 to 31.4, the career number nearly doubled. Kent, on the record, was a “clean” player in the middle of the steroid era and home-run race. Kent hit 175 HRs in his six seasons by the bay. Kent recieved an MVP vote in 5 of his six seasons, winning the award in 2000. Kent had a .297/.368/.535/.903 slashline with the Giants, which is clearly the best overall line at the position.
Kent’s K/BB ratio was nearly 2:1 and was not a stellar baserunner, with only 57 stolen bases in San Francisco, the three ahead of him on this list have at least double that number. That, and most of them played for the Giants for close to 10 years, contributed to others having a higher WAR.
Kent was a little controversial, mainly due to his feuds and clubhouse issues with team star Barry Bonds. Jeff Kent is on the ballot for the BBWAA Hall of Fame vote this year. He most likely won’t make it this season, buy you could definitely see him getting in during his latter years on the ballot. Kent’s career WAR is good enough to be in the hall. If and when he gets elected to the hall, he would be 12th on the list of career WAR for HOF Second Baseman. Kent deserves to be in, and should get there eventually.
Number 3: Robby Thompson, (1986-1996), 33.6 WAR
Robby Thompson was the second baseman before Kent, and spent a solid eleven seasons in San Francisco. He was runner up for NL Rookie of the Year in 1986, was a two time all-star, and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 1993. Defensively he was worth 7.5 wins in his career with the Giants. He never had whopping numbers at the plate, just a .257/.329/.403/.733 slashline. He also had 103 stolen bases. Thompson was a very good second baseman for a long time in San Francisco. Number three on this list is well deserved.
Number 2: Frankie Frisch, (1919-1926), 37.8 WAR
Frisch played exactly 1000 games for the New York Giants, and accumulated a size-able WAR in 8 seasons. Frisch’s 1300+ hits and 224 stolen bases over his eight years gave him a fantastic career with the Giants. He only got better when he went to play for the Cardinals. Frisch was third on the MVP ballot in 1924, and ninth the following season. He eventually won it in St. Louis. He had 419 career stolen bases, 466 doubles, and 2880 hits over his hall of fame career. His career WAR? A whopping 70.4. Frisch was good, but one was better, and actually preceded Frisch in his time with the New York Giants.
HA! Boy do I, and plenty of others wish it was Kelby Tomlinson. Maybe in 50 years we’ll look back on “specs” career with the Giants and he’ll be on this list. But today, Kelby isn’t number one anymore.
Number One: Larry Doyle, 1907-1920, 42.8 WAR
Larry Doyle has the benefit of playing 14 seasons in a Giants uniform to get to this number. Still, the longest tenured second baseman in club history, and the highest WAR in a Giants uniform for all second baseman is easily enough to get him number one on our list.
Doyle played nearly his whole career with the Giants, spending a season and a half with the Chicago Cubs. Doyle finished in the top three of MVP Voting twice, winning the award once in 1912. Overall, Doyle accumulated a career line of .290/.357/.408/.765. In 1622 games, he had 1751 hits and stole 291 bases in a Giants uniform.
Stay tuned to Around the Foghorn as we continue to rank the best Giants of all time!
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