Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Greatest Giants

If you're a Giants fan, or just another baseball fan who somehow got involved in a discussion about the greatest Giant of all time, chances are you didn't bring up Art Fletcher. But if you didn't, that's probably because you, like much of the baseball establishment, overlooked the most important stat in the sport - the HBP. Art Fletcher was hit by 132 pitches for the Giants, staying in the way of more pitches for the sake of the team than any other player.

Since 1883, or 1887 when someone first started counting plunks for them, the Giants have been hit by 4,769 pitches. That's more than any other franchise, with the Pirates in second at 4,582. The Giants are in last place in HBPs this year with only 9, but still, in 4 to 6 years, they should be the first franchise to be hit by 5,000 pitches. No word yet on whether the commissioner plans to attend that historic event. 2,899 of the Giants plunks were recorded while they were the New York Giants, and 1,870 have come since they relocated to San Francisco.

The Giants have had 16 players on their roster at some point who accumulated over 100 career HBPs, including 2 of the 7 members of the 200 plunk club - Ron Hunt and Dan McGann. Only the Yankees have had as many 100 plunk club members pass through their club house, matching the Giants 16. But, Art Fletcher was the only player to record over 100 plunks while playing for the Giants. Barry Bonds could become the 2nd such player, but he still needs 16 more. Many people seem to be watching Bonds closely for various reasons, but few seem to be interested in his attempt to become the second player to reach 100 plunks with the franchise. He had another 20 plunks with the Pirates before he became Giant, for a career total of 104, but he's still no Art Fletcher.

Here are the greatest Giants in the field of getting hit by pitches (Giants franchise hbp leaders):
Art Fletcher - 132
Barry Bonds - 84
Art Devlin - 79
Dan McGann - 77
Ron Hunt - 76
Robby Thompson - 66
Willie McCovey - 64
Mel Ott - 64
John Warner - 60
Fred Snodgrass - 58

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