The Mount Rushmore of the San Francisco Giants

Willie-MaysThe Giants have operated continuously since their NL debut as the New York Gothams in 1883. The Giant nickname was adopted two seasons later and was preserved after the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.

The Giants are the sixth of the original NL clubs in our Mount Rushmore series. Your task is to choose the four players who best represent this franchise. Have fun!

The adoption of the Giant nickname in 1885 coincided with the team becoming one of the NL’s dominant clubs. New York represented the NL in the “World Series” of 1888 and 1889 played against the champions of the American Association. The Giants won both of those best-of-eleven series, defeating the St. Louis Browns and Brooklyn Bridegrooms. The Giants were mostly awful over the next fourteen seasons before posting back-to-back championship seasons in 1904-05, winning their first World Series against the AL champions in the latter season. Dominant players in the franchise’s first quarter century included Roger ConnorGeorge DavisMike Tiernan and Buck Ewing, with Amos RusieMickey WelchTim Keefe and Joe McGinnity leading the moundsmen.

Following its 1905 championship season, New York remained a dominant team for the next 30+ years (1906-38), finishing lower than fourth only three times over that period. Included were eleven NL pennants, but only three World Series titles. The Giants’ three successive World Series defeats (1911-13) closely followed the same misfortune by the Tigers (1907-09), a trifecta that has not been repeated since. Four consecutive pennants in 1921-24 was a first for either league and remains the only such four-peat in NL history. The Yankees were AL champs in the first three of those years, the only time the same pennant winners have squared off in three consecutive World Series. Dominant players of this period included Mel OttBill TerryTravis JacksonLarry DoyleArt Fletcher, and Frankie Frisch, with Carl Hubbell and Christy Mathewson leading the pitchers.

After almost four decades as a premier club, the Giants finally suffered a down period, with only one finish above 4th from 1939 to 1949. That 1949 season was the first full campaign for new skipper LeoDurocher under whom the Giants won two pennants in 7 years. The first, in 1951, is memorable for the pennant drive in which the Giants, 10 games behind in mid-August, reeled in the front-running Dodgers, closing a 6-game lead in the final two weeks of the season, and then winning a best-of-three pennant playoff, including a final game, 9th-inning comeback from 3 runs down with the winning run famously delivered via a Bobby Thomson walk-off home run. The Giants would lose the World Series to the Yankees, a series remembered for the farewell of Yankee great Joe DiMaggio and for the debut of two rookie outfielders, the Giants’ Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees (a matchup that was cut short when Mantle suffered a serious injury in game 2). The Giants’ fifth World Series title followed in 1954 with a sweep of the heavily-favored Indians, a series remembered for Mays’ outstanding back-to-home-plate, over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field at the Polo Grounds.

Following their relocation to San Francisco, the Giants remained a competitive team, with only one finish lower than 3rd from 1958 to 1971. Included was the 1962 NL pennant and 1971 NL West division crown. The 1962 World Series was a tense 7-game thriller ending with a 1-0 win by the Yankees, the final out coming with the tying run at 3rd base when Willie McCovey hit a scorching line drive to second baseman Bobby Richardson (last year’s World Series marked the first time since then that the final out in game 7 came with the tying run at 3rd base). Notable players of the 1939 to 1971 period included Willie MaysWillie McCoveyOrlando Cepeda and Johnny Mize, with Juan MarichalGaylord Perry and Johnny Antonelli on the hill.

The next 25 years (1972-96) saw mostly mediocre Giant teams with just two post-season appearances, losing the 1987 NLCS and being swept in the 1989 World Series. The latter series with the neighboring As was interrupted by an earthquake, resulting in an 11 day break between the second and third games. As a result, only 5 pitchers on both teams started all of the games, tied with the 1905 series (won by the Giants) for the fewest starting pitchers in a World Series.

Dusty Baker took over the manager’s chair in 1993, guiding the Giants to 1st or 2nd place finishes each year from 1997 to 2002. But, first round playoff exits in 1997 and 2000, and a World Series loss in 2002 after leading 3 games to 2 led to Baker’s departure, an exit that may have been hastened by an embarrassing incident in game 5 of that World Series when Baker’s young son wandered out of the dugout and onto the field during play (Giant first baseman J.T. Snow alertly scooped up the tyke who had followed Snow across home plate, thus averting a possible collision with a following runner). That 2002 series was notable as the first World Series between wild-card qualifiers (last year’s Royals/Giants matchup was the second) and was the only World Series for the Giants’ marquis star Barry Bonds.

The Giants won the NL West in their first season under new manager Felipe Alou, but another first-round playoff exit and sub-.500 finishes in 2005 and 2006 led to Bruce Bochy taking the helm in 2007. Under Bochy, the post-Barry Bonds Giants found their stride, taking three World Series titles in five seasons from 2010 to 2014, their first world titles since moving to San Francisco, and the only time the Giants have prevailed in 3 consecutive World Series appearances. In the 2014 series, Madison Bumgarner had three appearances of 5+ IP, including a 5-inning save in game 7, the first time since 1909 that a pitcher had three WS appearances of that length that were not all starts (the Tigers’ George Mullin started games 1, 4 and 6, and finished game 7 in 1909 but, unlike Bumgarner, Mullin was ineffective in the finale, surrendering the final 6 runs of an 8-0 loss to the Pirates).

Dominant players of the 1972 to 2007 period included Barry BondsMatt WilliamsRobby ThompsonJeff Kent and two Clarks, Will and Jack, with the current Giants led by Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Principal pitchers included Jim BarrGary Lavelle and John Montefusco from the pre-Bonds period, and Matt CainTim LincecumMadison Bumgarner and Jason Schmidt more recently.

The top 15 Giants, by WAR are:

Rk Player WAR From To Age G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Willie Mays 154.6 1951 1972 20-41 2857 12015 2011 3187 504 139 646 1859 1394 1436 .304 .385 .564 .949 *8H/39675
2 Barry Bonds 112.3 1993 2007 28-42 1976 8351 1555 1951 381 41 586 1440 1947 949 .312 .477 .666 1.143 *7/HD8
3 Mel Ott 107.8 1926 1947 17-38 2730 11348 1859 2876 488 72 511 1860 1708 896 .304 .414 .533 .947 *95H8/74
4 Willie McCovey 59.3 1959 1980 21-42 2256 8523 1113 1974 308 45 469 1388 1168 1351 .274 .377 .524 .900 *37H/9
5 Bill Terry 54.2 1923 1936 24-37 1720 7108 1120 2193 373 112 154 1078 537 449 .341 .393 .506 .899 *3H/97
6 Roger Connor 52.9 1883 1894 25-36 1120 4950 946 1388 242 131 76 786 578 276 .319 .402 .488 .890 *3/4859
7 George Davis 44.5 1893 1903 22-32 1100 4808 844 1432 229 98 53 819 403 180 .332 .393 .467 .860 *65/3479
8 Travis Jackson 44.0 1922 1936 18-32 1657 6680 833 1768 291 86 135 929 412 565 .291 .337 .433 .770 *65/H49
9 Larry Doyle 42.8 1907 1920 20-33 1622 6790 906 1751 275 117 67 725 576 349 .292 .359 .411 .770 *4/H
10 Art Fletcher 42.2 1909 1920 24-35 1321 5198 602 1311 193 65 21 584 167 313 .275 .318 .356 .674 *6/54
11 Mike Tiernan 42.2 1887 1899 20-32 1478 6732 1316 1838 257 162 106 853 748 376 .311 .392 .463 .855 *978/1
12 Bobby Bonds 38.0 1968 1974 22-28 1014 4610 765 1106 188 42 186 552 500 1016 .273 .356 .478 .834 *98/H
13 Frankie Frisch 37.8 1919 1926 21-28 1000 4448 701 1303 180 77 54 524 280 139 .321 .367 .444 .811 *45/6H
14 George Burns 36.1 1911 1921 21-31 1362 6043 877 1541 267 82 34 458 631 440 .290 .368 .391 .759 *789/5
15 Will Clark 35.5 1986 1993 22-29 1160 4878 687 1278 249 37 176 709 506 744 .299 .373 .499 .872 *3/H
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/7/2015.

And, the top 15 Giant pitchers are:

Rk Player WAR From To Age G GS CG SHO W L W-L% IP BB SO ERA FIP ERA+
1 Christy Mathewson 95.6 1900 1916 19-35 635 551 434 79 372 188 .664 4779.2 847 2504 2.12 2.26 136
2 Amos Rusie 69.7 1890 1898 19-27 427 403 372 29 234 163 .589 3531.2 1588 1835 2.89 3.67 137
3 Carl Hubbell 67.8 1928 1943 25-40 535 433 260 36 253 154 .622 3590.1 725 1677 2.98 3.55 130
4 Juan Marichal 62.5 1960 1973 22-35 458 446 244 52 238 140 .630 3443.2 690 2281 2.84 3.02 125
5 Mickey Welch 53.8 1883 1892 23-32 427 412 391 28 238 146 .620 3579.0 1077 1570 2.69 3.40 119
6 Tim Keefe 37.4 1885 1891 28-34 272 269 252 22 174 82 .680 2265.0 580 1303 2.54 2.88 129
7 Gaylord Perry 37.0 1962 1971 23-32 367 283 125 21 134 109 .551 2294.1 581 1606 2.96 2.88 119
8 Joe McGinnity 33.5 1902 1908 31-37 300 237 186 26 151 88 .632 2151.1 464 787 2.38 2.69 118
9 Matt Cain 32.4 2005 2014 20-29 281 280 15 6 95 95 .500 1811.1 611 1506 3.39 3.72 117
10 Johnny Antonelli 30.6 1954 1960 24-30 280 219 86 21 108 84 .563 1600.2 528 919 3.13 3.57 124
11 Jim Barr 28.2 1971 1983 23-35 394 220 59 20 90 96 .484 1800.1 391 650 3.41 3.49 109
12 Hal Schumacher 27.0 1931 1946 20-35 391 329 137 26 158 121 .566 2482.1 902 906 3.36 4.02 111
13 Sal Maglie 26.8 1945 1955 28-38 221 171 77 20 95 42 .693 1297.2 434 654 3.13 3.71 128
14 Hooks Wiltse 25.6 1904 1914 24-34 339 222 151 27 136 85 .615 2053.0 491 948 2.48 2.56 112
15 Jouett Meekin 24.0 1894 1899 27-32 217 208 179 5 116 74 .611 1750.0 653 518 4.01 4.36 108
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/7/2015.

Now, it’s your turn. Please choose 4 players, or write in your own. Polls are open until midnight Pacific time on Wed, Jan 21st. You can check on results using the link at the bottom of the ballot. If the ballot does not display on your browser, you can also vote here.

Leave a Reply

49 Comments on "The Mount Rushmore of the San Francisco Giants"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Hartvig
Guest

Went straight timeline:

Matthewson, Ott, Mays and Bonds the younger

Strongly considered McGraw & Hubbell and hated to pass on Marichal & McCovey.

I’m annoyed with myself for not thinking about Posey but I don’t know who he would replace.

Dr. Doom
Guest

One of the toughest ones yet because of the sheer depth of talent, combined with the MANY excellent periods in team history. Therefore, like Hartvig, I went with “who produced the most for the franchise?”. Mays, Bonds, Ott, and Mathewson for me!

John
Guest
Couldn’t vote for Sosa with the Cubs. Couldn’t vote for Rose with the Reds. Can’t vote for Bonds. The guy was a great great player, & would’ve been a HoFer and maybe on the Giants Mt Rushmore if not for the steroids thing. He cheated. Period. Done. Outta there. Beyond that it was a tough call. Mays was a gimme. Mathewson was an amazing pitcher and a WWI hero to boot – and it killed him. The other 2 slots were a case of who do I kick off? Finally decided on Marichal. Another truly amazing pitcher. Decided to go… Read more »
Steven
Guest

Mays, Mathewson, Marichal and Ott.

PP
Guest

Mays, Bonds, Ott, Mathewson

Tier 2: McCovey, Marichal, Hubbel, Davis

PaulE
Guest

Mathewson
Ott
Mays
Marichal

Andy
Guest

this may be the first one where I have just voted for the top 4 WAR players. Amazing to have 3 and almost 4 100+ guys.

bluejaysstatsgeek
Guest

I have to agree with John – as great as his numbers are, Bonds disqualified himself. Mays, Ott, Mathewson and Marichal. It hurt like heck to leave McCovey off.

BryanM
Guest
Back after a few months with little/no internet on the ocean; delighted to rejoin the conversation at HHS — for this one it’s so tough — have to leave out so many great players — Mays, Ott, Mathewson and Marichal for me; the latter an admittedly emotional choice, He was so good in the period when I was most intensely into baseball. The game, of course has changed a lot — 7/2/63 could never come close to happening today.. Bonds was of course a greater player, but I just can’t press that button, recognizing YMMV.
Joseph
Guest

The Giants need two Mt. Rushmores–one for NY and one for San Francisco.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@11,

Maybe _three_ Mt. Rushmores:

–one for NY 19th century/ deadball era: Connor, Rusie, Mathewson, McGinnity
-one for NY live-ball era (1920-1957): Frisch, Terry, Ott, Hubbell
-one for SF: Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Barry Bonds

Joseph
Guest

That’s how I would divide it up if it were divided.

no statistician but
Guest
I’m going against the grain of the commentary here—who, me?—but the thing I find surprising is not the plenitude of great Giants, but their relative paucity, given the long and storied history of the franchise. The Giants were the first team to win four pennants in a row post 1893. Who from that stretch of greatness makes the WAR list above? Frankie Frisch, who played half his career for the Cardinals. (Jackson and Terry came on as part-timers at the end, true.) Lots of guys with good short careers like McGinnity, Maglie, and Antonelli, lots of guys who accumulated WAR… Read more »
Steve
Guest

Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal, Carl Hubbell

no statistician but
Guest

Another comment about McGraw:

From 1903 to 1924, a stretch of 22 years, his teams won 10 pennants, finished second seven times, third twice—those two in hot, closely contest races with Chance’s Cubs and Wagner’s Pirates. Time has changes his image from mastermind to contentious martinet. Like Napoleon, he’s become a caricature. But Napoleon held the fate of Europe in his hands for fifteen years, and Little Napoleon held the fate of the NL in his for over twenty.

Gary Bateman
Guest

I think that McGraw probably deserves to be on the Giants’ Mt Rushmore. In 30 years of managing the franchise, he won 10 pennants and had a winning percentage of .591. Martinet or not, that is a very impressive record.

J.R.
Guest
Voted for Posey, only because I feel that era HAS to be represented on the MR. Mays, Ott, and Christy were easy choices, as was my decision to leave Bonds off. Would he have made the MR had he been clean? No way to tell, if you account for natural career decline. But one thing is for certain: 99% of the time he was a Giant, he was a Giant cheater. Also, something tells me we may be laughing at not having Mad-Bum on here in 20 years. But solely based on his career so far, no way to even… Read more »
mosc
Guest

I also considered bumgardner and went for posey. 3 titles, it’ll be an era people remember for a while.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
If it is true that Barry began the happy juice after 1998, here are his two careers: 8100 PA / 74.2 WAA = 109.2 PaWaa 4506 PA / 49.3 WAA = 91.4 PaWaa Some of his “improvement” is of course tied to the preposterous number of walks he received. But 91.4 PaWaa from age 34 to 42? Zoinks. The only player in history who did better than that for a whole career was Ruth. Here are the leaders: PaWaa – Career 84.4 … (10622) Babe Ruth 97.2 … (9480) Rogers Hornsby 102.1 … (12606) Barry Bonds 104.0 … (9788) Ted… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

What about Lou Gehrig? I calculate 9663/78.5 = 123.1

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Oooof. Yeah, sorry. I was working off of an old tally sheet. Thanks.

I’ll re-post that in a few moments…

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

PaWaa – Career – Minimum 2000 PA

84.4 … (10622) Babe Ruth
97.2 … (9480) Rogers Hornsby
102.1 … (12606)Barry Bonds
104.0 … (9788) Ted Williams
104.5 … (2195) Mike Trout*
113.5 … (12496)Willie Mays
123.1 … (9663) Lou Gehrig
125.7 … (9907) Mickey Mantle
127.7 … (11748)Honus Wagner
128.5 … (13084)Ty Cobb
134.5 … (9241) Albert Pujols*
135.8 … (11992)Tris Speaker
137.3 … (10062)Mike Schmidt
138.9 … (2084) Red Ruffing
140.5 … (7673) Joe DiMaggio
141.3 … (5695) Joe Jackson
146.6 … (11344)Alex Rod*
147.3 … (5804) Jackie Robinson
148.3 … (6335) Chase Utley*
150.7 … (13941)Hank Aaron

CursedClevelander
Guest

I’m not much of an anti-steroid crusader, so I went with the Top 4 by WAR: Mays, Bonds the Younger, Ott and Mathewson.

The bottom of those WAR lists may be a bit barren, but the Top 10 for the Giants is about as good as you’ll find outside of the Yankees. Their Mt. Rushmore B-Team is incredibly impressive: Hubbell, Marichal, McCovey and Terry.

bells
Guest
I’m a bit surprised not to see more support for McGraw (some in the comments, none in the voting). To me, he (well, he and Matty for the first 15 years) IS the Giants of the early 20th-century. Mays was they key to their success in the late NY/early SF era, and is unquestionably in a Mount Rushmore discussion immediately. And I guess Mathewson and Ott were signature players that covered McGraw’s years there… but still. If any manager can lay claim to being an icon associated with single franchise, it’s McGraw. Okay, Connie Mack too, but McGraw had a… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@26;

Thanks for reminding me of McGraw; I just voted for him above, and in my #25 would replace McGinnity with him.

Alan
Guest
Doug, I enjoyed your history of the team! One thought though: around here (in SF where I live), Dusty Baker’s departure is much more closely associated with his awarding the Game Ball to Russ Ortiz when he removed the latter in Game 6 of the 2002 Series, with the Giants ahead 5-0 for the game and 3-2 in the Series. (Ortiz carried the ball into the dugout with him). That was seen as a jinx, particularly when the Angels promptly scored 6 to win game 6, then trounced Livan early in Game 7 to take the trophy. The Darren Baker/JT… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Okay, I’m utterly addicted to this… Here are some notable players born in 1964. What they did through and after 1998: Barry Bonds 8100 PA / 74.2 WAA = 109.2 4506 PA / 49.3 WAA = 91.4 Rafael Palmiero 7590 PA / 23.9 WAA = 317.6 4456 PA / 06.2 WAA = 718.7 Barry Larkin 6520 PA / 40.6 WAA = 160.6 2537 PA / 01.6 WAA = 1585.6 Will Clark 7482 PA / 25.9 WAA = 288.8 0801 PA / 02.9 WAA = 276.2 Ellis Burks 5900 PA / 15.5 WAA = 380.6 2277 PA / 07.6 WAA =… Read more »
Joseph
Guest

Did somebody already comment on John McGraw? In my mind, if any manager belongs on a Mt. Rushmore, it’s him. He’s the first person I think of when I think of the Giants as a franchise. When I was a kid ready baseball history books about the early days of baseball, it seemed that he was in every book–almost like a central figure of 1920’s baseball.

John Autin
Editor
I went top 4. Hated to leave out McGraw, but since the top 4 are all inner-circle HOFers representing different eras, it seemed less unfair to screw the skipper than one of the players. By the way … The Jints may have a paucity of high career WAR totals beyond the Rushmores. But they’ve had quite a few players have one or two great years. Comparing the “original 16” for most position players with *any* season of 6+ WAR, since 1893: — Giants, 32 players — Yankees, 29 — Red Sox, 29 — Dodgers, 29 — Cardinals, 28 — Bravos,… Read more »
latefortheparty
Guest

Willie Mays
Christy Mathewson
Mel Ott
John McGraw

MikeD
Guest

In order of greatness: Mays, Bonds, Ott and Mathewson.

Who are the WAR leaders just for the SF Giants?

Paul E
Guest

112 Bonds
78 Mays
59 Marichal
52 McCovey

These numbers are rounded to nearest whole number.

PaulE
Guest

Mike,
mea culpa-the above numbers are from 1962-present ……must have hadthe pennant season stuck in my head
1958-present:
114 Mays
112 Bonds
62 Marichal
59 McCovey

MikeD
Guest

PaulE, thanks and interesting (to me) that Mays still holds the WAR record for the Giants of San Francisco. I figured Bonds might have eclipsed him, although it is darn close.

dr. remulak
Guest

Mathewson, Ott, Mays, Posey. Ideally, begin the carving work for the first three, and confirm a few years down the road that Buster’s career arc has been sustained. Young Buster is signed through 2021, and I’m wagering on several more outstanding years, but I think this modern-era Giants club, with its 3 championships, begs a Rushmore representative. Posey is on a path toward being considered a top-10 all-time catcher.

CursedClevelander
Guest

Interesting thought about Ott:

I know a lot of people knock him for taking advantage of his home park when it comes to padding HR totals, so I did the quick and dirty (and obviously inaccurate) exercise of just doubling his career road totals and seeing what you end up with. His career would look like this:

11348 PAs, .311/.408/.510, 376 HRs, 612 2Bs, 102 3Bs, 1724 RBI, 1810 R, 3032 H. Looks almost like George Brett’s career line, actually. So whatever park you stick him in, he’s going to be an inner-circle Hall of Famer.

Darien
Guest

Wow, I have five, and that’s a tough field to narrow. Lessee… Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are no-doubters. Christy Mathewson is one of my all-time favourites, and I’ve read his book and everything, so in he goes. Ott or McCovey, though? Or do I defy the tie and go with a comedy fourth option like Barry Zito?

I think it has to be: Bonds, Mays, Mathewson, and Ott.

donburgh
Guest

Mathewson, Ott, Mays, and Barry Seems strange not to have any of the current Giants on, but I can’t justify displacing any of the four that I voted for.

e pluribus munu
Guest
McGraw and Mack were much more than managers: they shaped the greatest franchises of the early 20th century in ways no later manager ever would. They essentially controlled their teams. McGraw was brought to New York after the Giants had been systematically destroyed by a psychotic owner, Andrew Freedman. Freedman bought a controlling interest in the Baltimore Orioles in order to steal several of its players, including player-manager McGraw, and then left baseball, providing McGraw unique leverage over his new boss. McGraw was the key to Freedman’s choice of stolen players (his favorites were McGinnity and Bresnahan) and, from that… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Well said, epm.

And, thanks for the history lesson. Really. Makes more understandable B-R’s recent decision to disconnect the Orioles from the Yankees on B-R’s franchise pages.

wpDiscuz