It's Hall of Fame season! Oh, it's the dumbest of seasons, in which we're reminded that a majority of baseball writers actually think that Barry Bonds shouldn't have a plaque in a museum filled with plaques of the best baseball players in history. It's like keeping Duane Allman out of the Allman Brothers Hall of Fame, but whatever. Their loss.
On the ballot this year is another Giants outfielder. I would guess that he isn't going to get a vote, except Bill Mueller got a vote, so you never know which writers will throw their favorite players a wink-wink vote. We can be sure, though, that Randy Winn will not make the Hall of Fame. He will probably not make the Hall of Nearly Great. But he was still an underappreciated Giant, and our job before the Hall of Fame vote is released is to appreciate him.
The first step to appreciating Randy Winn, former Giant, is to appreciate how good he was before the Giants traded for him. He was 31 before the deal, and here were his OBPs in his first four full seasons:
Not bad! Except this was back in the early and mid-2000s, when a .346 OBP wasn't so special. The league average OBP back in 2003 was .333, and if you plug Winn's numbers into my favorite toy at Baseball-Reference to see what those numbers might have looked like in the current run-scoring environment, you get someone who might have had one of the worst OBPs on the 2015 Giants.
His strength wasn't in getting on base, just as it wasn't hitting for power or a super-high average. It was in doing everything rather well. His WAR in the three seasons before joining the Giants:
He was tremendous in his prime, exactly the kind of player we should have been clamoring for. Except there wasn't WAR back then, so while we instinctively knew that Winn should get extra credit for his baserunning and defense, it was far too easy to look at the OBPs and shrug. Oh, no, I wrote about the trade here, oh no no no. Any of my writing from before 2010 is pure garbage, please, you have to believe me, don't look.
The trade to get Randy Winn encapsulates everything wrong with how the Giants are constructed. It represents a failure of imagination, and a squandering of resources. And it's a good trade for the Giants as they are presently constructed.
Ugh. I asked you not to look. Apparently I was arguing for Yorvit Torrealba or something? I don't know. Regardless, that should have been an opening of, "The Giants traded a broken pitcher and backup catcher for an outstanding outfielder. You never fail to impress, Brian Sabean." I'll just go back and edit ...
The second step to appreciating Randy Winn is to go back and laugh at what he did once he joined the Giants. I had no idea what the Giants wanted with him in the first place -- he was a pending free agent, and the Giants were 14 games under .500 -- but it sure was fun after he got here. In August, he hit .269/.301/.472. Which was very nice, other than the OBP, and he helped the team win more than they would have without him.
Then came September, and it still makes me giggle. Hold on. In September, 2005, Randy Winn hit hahaha hold on give me a second, in September, 2005, Winn hit .439/.469/.862 with 11 homers, 13 doubles, and three triples in 133 plate appearances. It was the most absurd hitting performance Giants fans had seen since Barry Bonds basically hit better than that for four straight seasons. Okay, maybe that's unfair, but Winn was still hilariously magical. And it was desperately needed, considering the Giants were somehow contending in the final month of the season, despite being lousy.
Winn got a big contract for the time (three years! $23.25 million! wow!) and everyone assumed it was because of his big month. It was really because he was a very fine player, as demonstrated above, and Sabean was always smarter than you.
The third step to appreciating Randy Winn is to appreciate him. He was with the Giants for four-and-a-half seasons, and he hit .290/.345/.432 with outstanding defense, including two different .300 seasons. I still have no idea how he was never traded during the dark years of 2007 and 2008, but he ended up being a classic Good Giant.
It's also worth noting that the Giants lead the league in Winns Above Replacement in every season after they traded for him. Ha ha ha, you read this site on purpose.
More importantly, here's a list of the top 10 outfielders by WAR since the team moved to San Francisco:
- Willie Mays, 114 WAR
- Barry Bonds, 112
- Bobby Bonds, 38
- Jack Clark, 31
- Kevin Mitchell, 19
- Felipe Alou, 17
- Chili Davis, 17
- Brett Butler, 14
- Gary Matthews, 13
- Randy Winn, 13
Just snuck in, ahead of Ken Henderson, Jeffrey Leonard, Ellis Burks, and Hunter Pence. And, uh, Marvin Benard. Still, one of the 10-best outfielders in the 58 seasons the team has been in San Francisco? That's impressive. It's something worth appreciating.
So even though Winn probably won't get a Hall of Fame vote, it's probably a good time to appreciate him for a second. Raise a glass or whatever it is that you filthy Internet people do in situations like this. Randy Winn was pretty cool.