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Picking the all-Giants team from the last 25 years

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There’s a twist. The 25-man roster is filled with players from the last 25 years, and you can’t repeat a season.

Barry Bonds Giants

Just when you think there’s nothing to talk about before spring training, an Offseason Content Angel floats by with a dandy idea.

Got that? So from 1992 through 2016, each season is going to have a representative on this fake 25-man roster. Players cannot be used twice. There can’t be seasons with more than one player used. And we have to do this all the way down to the fifth outfielders and long relievers, with the very worst seasons represented as much as the very best.

There are ways to make this exercise easier. Such as starting with ...

C - Buster Posey, 2012

Just get the obvious one out of the way first. This wasn’t just one of the best seasons from a catcher in Giants history; this was one of the best seasons by a catcher in baseball history.

Of the top 10 catcher seasons by WAR from the last 25 years, the first six are Posey. Then it goes Kirt Manwaring (‘92), Benito Santiago (‘02), Manwaring (‘93), and Brent Mayne (‘99). Turns out that Posey has been a net positive for the Giants.

1B - J.T. Snow, 1997

Hear me out. This is here because the competing seasons had something better. Will Clark in ‘92? Sorry, but that season was needed for a closer because of 30 different reasons. Aubrey Huff in ‘10? Nope, needed another player from that year.

Snow’s ‘97 season is just fine, then. Without it, there’s no ‘97 division title, which was the start of a new Giants era. He was very, very fun to watch that year, even if he really couldn’t do a danged thing against lefties.

2B - Jeff Kent, 2000

Picking MVP seasons isn’t a bad way to do this, really. While it’s a shame that I can’t use 2000 to build my dream bench, I’ll figure out a way to adjust.

SS - Rich Aurilia, 2001

Dingers. While Brandon Crawford’s defense made him attractive in several seasons — also, attractive for the purposes of this exercise — it’s hard to overlook one of the greatest offseason performances by a shortstop in league history.

3B - Matt Williams, 1994

Pablo Sandoval wasn’t a third baseman in 2008, at least not exclusively, so forget about using him as a ringer from the lousy season. No, it has to be Williams, who was putting together a legitimate chase for Roger Maris’ home run record before the season was stopped and cancelled labor unrest.

LF - Melky Cabrera, 2012

Just seeing if you’re paying attention.

LF - Barry Bonds, 2002

Of course, the natural impulse is to get those 73 dingers on the roster, but Bonds isn’t just the sum of his dingers. He hit .370 with a .582 on-base percentage the year after his record-setting season, and it’s not like he squeaked into double-digit territory with the homers, either.

The question is Bonds ‘01 + Brandon Crawford’s ‘15 vs. Bonds ‘02 + Aurilia’s ‘01. By WAR, the latter takes it. I didn’t use WAR, though. I used my well-established home run fetish.

CF - Andres Torres, 2010

Such a beautiful, unexpected season. Never forget what it really meant:

If the Giants don’t win the 2010 World Series, they panic and sign Carl Crawford for $145 million. Then they trade Brandon Belt for Josh Willingham.

The Giants, picking 25th instead of 28th, select Sean Gilmartin in the 2011 draft instead of Joe Panik.

The Padres sign Cliff Lee and win in 2012 after trading for Marco Scutaro. The Giants tumble below .500.

When the Padres defeat the Royals to win the 2014 World Series, we just assume that the universe hates us, not that Andres Torres was prevented from saving us.

All of that is tangible and verifiable. Look it up.

RF - Hunter Pence 2013

Not the bestest of seasons, but Ellis Burks’ best years were taken, and Randy Winn’s best season came in a Tim Lincecum Cy Young year. This will do fine.

4th OF - Armando Rios, 1999
5th OF - Rajai Davis, 2007
INF - Steve Scarsone, 1995
Backup SS - Deivi Cruz, 2004
Backup C - Tom Lampkin, 1996

I tried to build it like a real bench, with a designated center fielder. Apologies to some of my favorite bench players, like the entire 2000 bench, F.P. Santangelo, Andres Galarraga, Stan Javier, and several others.

Lampkin made it because ‘96 stunk, and it was the last year on the list. But, hey, left-handed catcher with an Alice In Chains walk-up song!

SP1 - Tim Lincecum 2008
SP2 - Jason Schmidt 2003
SP3 - Matt Cain, 2009
SP4 - Madison Bumgarner, 2015
SP5 - Johnny Cueto, 2016

This was actually really easy. There weren’t any brutal choices like “Lincecum’s Cy Young season, or Buster Posey’s MVP season?”

Like, no arguments here. What, are you upset about Bill Swift’s 1993 season? Okay. Can’t help you, but I appreciate your strong feelings.

I’m scared about how easy this was.

Closer - Rod Beck, 1992

Now this. This was hard. There’s Robb Nen in his best seasons, Rod Beck at his best, Brian Wilson in 2010, and the 9th-best relief season for the Giants in 25 years, which was ... Kevin Correia in 2007?

[kicks WAR machine right in the WAR calculator]

Work better, stupid machine.

But ‘92 was a turd of a season in a lot of ways, and Beck was one of the biggest bright spots. Plus, the calculus was something like ...

Beck ‘92 + Steve Reed ‘98 + Snow ‘97

vs.

Nen ‘98 + Jean Machi ‘14 + Clark ‘92.

I chose the former, but it’s worth noting that THIS IS ALL A DELICATE HOUSE OF CARDS, AND I DID NOT EXPECT THIS TO BE SO STRESSFUL.

Right-handed setup - Sergio Romo, 2011
Left-handed setup - Jeremy Affeldt, 2014
Right-handed setup #2 - Steve Reed, 1998
Left-handed setup #2 - Scott Eyre, 2005
Random back-of-bullpen arm - Scott Sanderson, 1993
Long relief - Kevin Correia, 2006

Romo’s season was one of the best relief seasons we’ll ever see. So automatic. So fun.

While it was hard to leave Lopez off — I could swap his ‘13 in for Affeldt and move Pence’s contribution to 2014 — I loved the versatility of Affeldt. Didn’t have to hide him against right-handers, which was huge.

Just because Yusmeiro Petit isn’t on this list doesn’t mean he isn’t in our hearts. Miss u.

The final 25-man roster, with a provisional lineup:

CF - Andres Torres, 2010
C - Buster Posey, 2012
LF - Barry Bonds, 2002
3B - Matt Williams, 1994
2B - Jeff Kent, 2000
SS - Rich Aurilia, 2001
1B - J.T. Snow, 1997
RF - Hunter Pence, 2013

4th OF - Armando Rios, 1999
5th OF - Rajai Davis, 2007
INF - Steve Scarsone, 1995
Backup SS - Deivi Cruz, 2004
Backup C - Tom Lampkin, 1996

SP1 - Tim Lincecum 2008
SP2 - Jason Schmidt 2003
SP3 - Matt Cain, 2009
SP4 - Madison Bumgarner, 2015
SP5 - Johnny Cueto, 2016

Closer - Rod Beck, 1992
RP - Sergio Romo, 2011
RP - Jeremy Affeldt, 2014
RP- Steve Reed, 1998
RP - Scott Eyre, 2005
RP - Scott Sanderson, 1993
RP - Kevin Correia, 2006

The weak spot is the back of the bullpen, of course. Somehow, though, I think they will be just fine.

In my opinion, the Giants players should try to recreate this lineup and rotation. Share on Facebook if you agree.

This was a harder exercise than I thought, but it was also a whole lot of fun. A bunch of MVPs and Cy Young finalists will do that. I could get behind a movement to make Johnny Cueto the obvious fifth starter, after all. I’ll let you get back to the decline and fall of western civilization, but hopefully this thought exercise will keep your brains from rusting while you’re in the gulag.

(Stray thought: It sure has been a fun 25 years of Giants baseball.)