Greatest All-Time Team Ever...
One Fan's Opinion On the Greatness of the Giants Franchise
By Ryan Meagher
Who has the greatest All-Time Squad? You guessed it. The Giants. Not the Yankees. Now, I am not talking about the best single team ever (1927 Yankees [I don't care if they didn't play against or with black people. They didn't need to do this to qualify them as the greatest ever. They were un-freaking-believable]). I am not talking about the greatest franchise ever (Again, the Yankees. They have won 26 world championships, and 14 division titles). What I am saying is this: You take the best player at each position from a franchise's history, compile an All-Star team out of them, and the Giants have the best all-time team ever.
You can pit them against anyone. I don't care. They will kill you. They will kill you, eat your babies and steal your wallet. Certain franchises have better all-time infields. Certain franchises have better all-time pitching staffs (not too many, however). There is no way in hell anyone has a better outfield than the Giants, and no one should even try to argue. Maybe, if I let you move Mantle to left, and DiMaggio plays center, I would let you try to argue. But for this exercise, I am saying that a player must only play the position he is most well known for. You can have Mantle as a backup outfielder if you want, but for this I am only letting him play center. Also, I am basing this on career team guys. Guys like A-Rod, Sheffield, Pudge Rodriguez, Rickey Henderson, Kevin Brown, and Dave Winfield don't count for most teams because you can hardly identify that person to ONE team. I am saying that a guy has to play close to half his career with one team to be counted for that team.
Here is your Giants All-Time team, ingredient by ingredient:
Manager - John McGraw. He's my favorite manager in history, and he has to be in the top three of all time. He has the highest winning percentage of any manager of substantial length. He did it for what seems like one hundred (100) years. He may be one of the biggest A-Holes in baseball history, but he was also one of the most respected, feared and intelligent baseball men of all-time. He was a good player, but a great manager, which I have to believe, is why he gave up playing. He was a member of the infamous Baltimore Orioles who played baseball dirtier than any hockey team has ever dreamt of playing. My favorite story of him is when he was coaching third base. A runner of his is on third. He screams at the pitcher to throw the ball over to him so he can see if it is damaged, or scuffed or something. The pitcher tosses the ball to him, and McGraw just steps out of the way, and lets the ball go rolling away. The runner quickly runs home and scores. Who would think of something like that but the dirtiest, smartest manager? That's a guy I want managing this team.
Catcher - Buck Ewing. Now, this is one of the big throwbacks. He played before the turn of the 20th century. Buck Ewing, at the time was probably baseball's biggest star. Certainly he was one of the most popular. He isn't as well known today as Cy Young, Honus Wagner, the young Ty Cobb, or his manager, John McGraw, but the people of New York LOVED Buck. He was a phenomenal defensive catcher, twice led the league in homeruns, and once in triples. Most baseball people rate him as one of the five greatest all-time catchers. He was one of the first ten inductees into the Hall of Fame.
First Base - Willie McCovey. If you don't know who this is, then you are not a Giants fan. You might actually be an idiot. Like the kind we should have locked up in an asylum. If you clone Willie McCovey and make him a rookie in 1991, he would still be playing today (bad knees and all), have 600+ homeruns by now, a bunch of stolen bases, one or two gold gloves, and a bajillion RBI's. There aren't many first basemen in the history of the game that were/are better than Willie Mac.
Second Base - Jeff Kent. He isn't ranked highly in my book, because his best years happened after it was published. By the time he is done, he will have the highest power totals ever by a second baseman. He will most certainly have the all-time highest total for RBIs and HRs by a second baseman. He is a stud, but he is a dick. No one has ever liked him in the clubhouse, and he is a traitor bastard! I went to the opening day game at PacBell two years ago, which was Kent's first game as a Dodger. I'm glad his first game as a Dodger was for the Giants in San Francisco. Before the game, and after Barry came out and said, "I WILL BE BACK!" they had a moment of silence for the recently departed Pope John Paul III. During that moment of silence, one enthusiastic fan screamed, "Kent. You SUCK!" loud enough for everyone to hear. Mind you. I was in the left field upper deck and this guy screamed it from field level seats. It was awesome. Really, I'm only bitter because he left us, but while he was with us he was as clutch as they come, and helped us be one of the best teams at the end of last century/beginning of this. Plus, he was a Cal Bear so he's got that part of my heart too. I know Kent has spent time with the `Stros, the Dodgers, and the Mets, but the majority of his career was in black and orange.
Third Base - Sorry to say, but probably Matt Williams. The infield is rather weak for the Giants, except for an abundance of first basemen. Matty Williams is the highest rated Giants third basemen in my book at twenty-three (23). If you take Matty's first couple years, and his best years (In the strike shortened season of '94, he was on pace to beat 61*), he was most-likely going to be a HOFer. However, he trailed off dramatically upon moving to the AL. We actually got Jeff Kent in that trade, so THANKS BRIAN SABEAN!
Shortstop - Jose Uribe. Just kidding. He was one of my favorites to watch, but him being the Giants all-time best shortstop is so far from the truth that I should be kicked. Really it is George Davis. He was another one of the old-timers. He was traded even up for the aging Buck Ewing. He was one of the more dominant hitting shortstops in the era, and New York loved him. My book has him ranked 14th all-time in the shortstop list.
Left Field - Barry Bonds. Best left-fielder ever, no question. Some people might say Ted Williams. Those people are stupid. Williams played a whole lot of right field, too and can't really be classified as solely a left fielder. Plus Ted Williams never hit 734 home runs (to-date total), stole many bases at all, and certainly never won the MVP 7 times. They should just rename the MVP, the Barry Bonds Award. The most anyone has is four (4), and that's only three (3) people. Barry was (I say was because it's obvious he no longer is) probably the most complete player that isn't named Willie Mays. The only thing Barry ever lacked was much of a throwing arm, but that didn't prevent him from winning eight (8) gold gloves. He always got rid of the ball quickly, and accurately. No one even comes close to Barry Bonds' level of left fielder. I also don't want to hear shit about steroids because he was the best left fielder ever even before 2001, ok?
Center Field - DUH! I don't think anyone that ever knew anything about baseball said someone was a better all-around ball player than Willie Mays. Where scouts look at players like Vlad Guerrero, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter as "five tool players," Say Hey was probably an eleven tool player. Willie could hit for average, hit for power, throw the lights out (the best part about The Catch was the throw after it), field (no shit), and run. He could also get on base, NOT steal (often Willie would NOT steal second base so that there would not be an open bag for the opposing team to walk Willie Mac), be a team player, he hardly hit into double plays, he was in charge of the defense, he claims he called pitches from the outfield (probably just Old Man Willie being a kook), he put up with a lot of racist bullshit, he made everyone who ever watched him smile, and he had along career. I challenge anyone to say anything bad about Willie Mays. Fuck it. I challenge anyone to say anything but HE WAS THE BEST GODDAMNED BALL PLAYER EVER.
Right Field - Met Ott. Right field is another place on the field in which the Giants are stacked. Mel Ott is the third outfielder on the Giants with 500 career HRs (no other all-time teams have three outfielders with 500 each) and he played his whole career in the Polo Grounds. The Polo grounds was great for dead-pull hitters, but the outfield walls increased dramatically in distance from home plate as you get more toward center. If the Giants played all of their home games in a park like Fenway, or Yankee Stadium, Ott would have 600 career homeruns. For a long time, Ott was the Giants career leader in RBIs. Flat out, the guy could hit. He had a very strange swing, where he held his bat level to the ground at his hip, and took a gigantic leap forward with his front foot, but he mashed.
Starting Rotation -
Juan Marichal (R) One of the best pitchers of the era, and that is saying a lot when you notice he was pitching against guys like Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Don Drysdale several times a year. He is always remembered for his high leg kick, but what people don't realize is that leg kick helped power an incredible machine that pumped out massive amounts of innings. The Dominican Dandy once threw a 14-inning shutout against Warren Spahn, who went into the 14th scoreless, but had his party crashed by Mays who hit a walk off. Marichal was probably the best control pitcher of the era.
Christy Matthewson (R) - Pitching was WAY different back then, but Christy was still good at it. He threw 3 shutouts in the 1905 World Series. That's just silly. Randy Johnson won three games in the 2001 WS, but Mattewson threw 27 innings of shutout ball in ONE World Series. I can sincerely say that I don't think that will ever happen again. Another little note... Christy was one of the smartest and most enjoyable men of the era. He was quite the gentleman. And he was one of John McGraw's best friends. That's a very interesting tandem, considering McGraw was an ass.
Carl Hubbell (L) - He was the highest ranked Giant pitcher in my book at fourteen . That's great and all, but I think Marichal and Mattewson were better. Hubbell is one of the 10 best lefties of all time, though. He had an amazing screwball, and hardly walked anyone. He was on the Giants squads with Bill Terry, and Mel Ott.
Gaylord Perry (R) - Gaylord is a borderline Giant because he was on a million teams late in his career. I like him because he stayed around so long, and did whatever he could to win ball games, including illegal things like spitballs and scuffing the ball. He's also a funny guy, and a great personality in the Old Timer games.
Jason Schmidt (R) - It's very annoying for me to put him on this rotation, but it is as the number five guy, so who cares. I think of Schmidt as a Giant. Sure, he came up with Atlanta, but he sucked there. He moved on to Pittsburgh. Didn't do much better. Next he came to the Giants and immediately started putting up HOF numbers. He came in 2nd in Cy Young voting two years in a row. His worst recent year (2005) is better than most pitchers best years. I want to kill him for signing with the Dodgers this winter, but whatever. I will laugh all night when Bonds hits number 755 off of him this September.
Closer - Rob Nen - In my opinion, there was only one better closer in all of baseball while Rob Nen was around. That would be Mariano Rivera. As a Marlin, Nen was solid gold. As a Giant, he was platinum. He would throw his fastball by you all night, and then he would make you look like a chimp with an axe handle when he threw his slider. It was always interesting if you were a Giants fan and the game was on the line (Did he ever get the first batter of the 9th inning out?) but the door was always shut. He had only one short streak of losing the game for the Giants but it's so insignificant that I hardly remember it. Anyway, Nen should have a statue outside AT&T Park because he proved to us all that he would have given his right arm to win a World Series with the Giants...
Set up - Rod Beck - Second on the Giants list of career saves. One of the best closers in Giants history. He had a long career with the Giants as a closer. I am putting him as a setup because he had a rebirth as a setup guy with the Cubs and Padres early in the 2000's. I still would rather not think of him pitching to guys like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, or Hammerin' Hank, but who else are you going to have as set up? I would have put Felix Rodriguez, were it not for single-handedly blowing our World Series chances in Game 6 of 2002. I would trade Felix Rodriguez dying in a car crash in the Dominican Republic for Jose Uribe any day of the week. Does that make me a bad person?
Rick Reuschel (R) - He is ranked eighty-one (81) all time in my book. Probably because he spent half his career as an outstanding pitcher for the Cubs. I am listing him as a Giant because he was gutsy enough to stick it out with the Giants when they struggled, and it paid off, as he was one of the best pitchers of the National League in the Giants Pennant winning season of 1989. I mostly remember him as Big Daddy, but I also remember Bo Jackson slamming one over the wall off of him on the first pitch of the '89 All Star game.
Hoyt Wilhelm - One of the best knuckleball pitchers ever. Maybe THE best. He also played on tons of teams, but he is most remembered as a Giants pitcher. He is portrayed as an ass-hole in the Billy Crystal movie, 61*... but that's because Billy Crystal is a Yankee Loving Prick. Most people around the game think Wilhelm was a great guy. And one of his catchers invented the practice of using a larger catcher's glove to receive a flutter ball pitcher. I think he pitched into his late 90's, Old Bastard.
Joe McGinnity - Another turn of the century New York Giants guy. He was plenty of arm. No one really threw as many innings as McGinnity. He had one of the best curves of the era, and may have been as good a pitcher as Cy Young. He was on the same staff as Mattewson. Well, I say staff, but really only 3 or 4 pitchers saw any action in the games back then.
John Montefusco - I am only putting him for a few reasons. One is that he was the best pitcher on the really, really bad Giants teams of the `70s. So good, in fact, that he is the last Giant pitcher to throw a No-No. Also, because I am not going to fill out the pitching staff with 12 guys. I am not bored enough to put relief guys like Todd Worrell and Jeff Brantley. Thinking about any of those guys pitching to DiMaggio or Griffey Jr. with the game on the line... No thanks.
Orlando Cepeda [RF/1B] - The Giants have to be more stacked at first base than any other team ever. And this also goes back to them being stacked at right field. When Willie Mac and Orlando Cepeda were on the same teams, Cepeda would be the first baseman for the lefty pitchers (even though Willie's lifetime numbers against lefties are better than Bonds). When the Giants played righties, the Stretch would play first and the Baby Bull would move to right. So a guy like Cepeda, who would start on most All-Time teams, is a backup all-timer for the Gyros.
Bill Terry [C/1B/Manager] - Probably the best simultaneous player/manager ever. John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson played a little as managers, but Bill Terry was both a great manager, and amazing first baseman. I should check my facts, but he has to be one of the few player/managers to win a World Series. He didn't play much catcher, but he did play some, and we need a back up soooo...
Johnny Mize [1B] - Played in the forties. Best player on a bad era of Giants baseball.
Will Clark [1B] - No. 14 1B. The Thrill is probably the greatest collegiate first baseman ever. Came into the league in a bang. First major league at bat was against Nolan Ryan and he hit a dead center field jack in one of the hardest home run hitting parks ever. Didn't come in to the league with much of a glove, but worked his ass off and became one of the league's best glove men. He is a San Francisco legend.
Bobby Thompson [3B/OF] - He's unranked, but he hit that damn home run.
Bobby Bonds [OF] No. 15 RF. He was a great player, but I mostly like him for birthing Barry, and showing him the Giants lifestyle. Bobby had speed and power. Good arm, and great hustle.
Robby Thompson [2B] No. 42 2B. His ranking seems a bit high for me, but he did have a great, short career. He was the last Giant to win Rookie of the Year. He was in one of the best double play combos of all-time. I am not making that up. That is supported by the facts in Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract (as are most of my facts in this essay).
Roger Bresnahan [C/UTIL] No. 16 C. Buck Ewing's successor. Fast enough to lead off. Started at every position. One of McGraw's favorite players. He's actually ranked higher by Bill James on the All-Time catchers list, but I think Ewing deserves to start more than Bresnahan. Plus, Bresnahan can play Super Sub.
- George Davis. I really don't know if Davis can run or not. It just doesn't seem logical to put Bonds and Mays (the guys who get on base the most and have the most speed) to led-off.
- Ewing. Every player of his era was a bat control guy, and this spot in the order demands that. If a guy like Ewing is hitting in the two hole, it doesn't matter who's leading off. If the lead off guy is on, he will move him over. If he is not on, he will put himself on. I can only think of a few guys who are better number two hitters than a guy like Ewing. Maybe Tony Gwynn, Pudge Rodriguez, Honus Wagner, George Sisler... maybe Rogers Hornsby... Yea. I will take Ewing here.
- Ba. Bonds (Bats Left). He's probably the best hitter ever, so might as well put him in the three spot. With his on base percentage, it's a good thing to have him in front of a guy like Mays.
- Mays (Bats Right). He's going to hit 40 bombs about every season. He's going to hit .300 every season. He's going to drive in more RBIs than most men dream of. I think he hit in the three spot most of his career, but I think Barry is a better fit.
- McCovey (Bats Left). Lord knows he has power. He didn't strike out as much as a guy with his swing type, and power would have you believe. In a key RBI spot like the five hole, it's nice to have a guy who doesn't strike out a lot, but still can kill you all over the field.
- Ott (Bats Left). He struck out a hell of a lot, but he also drove in tons of runs and hit big bombs. When guys like Mays, Bonds, and McCovey are going to be on base in front of him, it's always nice to have that potential "nail in the coffin" hitting behind them. Think of him as the Matsui or Giambi in the modern Yankees line up where you're going, "THIS guy is hitting 6th?!"
- Kent (Bats Right). Kent drives in runs like clock work, always hits around .300 or better, but strikes out a fair amount. I don't want him up in the most important situations, but I want him to drive in runs when these guys get on base.
- Williams (Bats Right). He really is the weakest hitter in the starting line-up, even though he was one of the most powerful third basemen of the late `80s/early `90's.
- Pitcher. Even though this is as fantasy as fantasy gets, I'm a fan of a National League team, so the pitcher hits, damnit!