Jeff Kent spent just six campaigns with the San Francisco Giants during his 17-year career, but it was unquestionably the peak of what some believe is a career worth of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Brian Sabean acquired Kent as part of a package that sent Matt Williams to Cleveland ahead of the 1997 season, and it proved to be one of the best trades in the history of the franchise.
Between 1997 and 2002, Kent slashed .297/.368/.535 with 175 home runs, 689 RBIs and a .903 OPS. Despite playing with Barry Bonds during what was truly the height of his powers, Kent managed to win the 2000 National League MVP, and post three other top-10 finishes in voting for the award during his time with the Giants.
But while Kent is one of the greatest Giants of the last 25 years, this franchise has existed since 1883, spending more than 60 years in New York before moving to the Bay. Here are the nine greatest players in the history of the New York/San Francisco Giants franchise:
9. Madison Bumgarner (2009-2019)
Best Season as a Giant: 2016 - 15-9 with a 2.74 ERA, 146 ERA+, 3.05 FIP, 1.028 WHIP, 251 strikeouts, four complete games and a 4.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: 119-92 with a 3.13 ERA, 120 ERA+, 3.32 FIP, 1.111 WHIP, 1,794 strikeouts, 15 complete games and 31.5 fWAR
There's quite a few players whose regular season numbers as a Giant were on par or even better than Bumgarner. However, during his time with the Giants, Bumgarner was one of the most durable regular season arms, pitching 200 or more innings on seven occasions. What really put Bumgarner over the top, though, is that he's arguably the greatest postseason pitcher of all-time. A three-time World Series Champion, Bumgarner has a 2.78 ERA in 101 career postseason innings. Bumgarner won the 2014 World Series MVP, as the Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in seven games.
8. Carl Hubbell (1928-1943)
Best Season as a Giant: 1933 - 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA, 193 ERA+. 2.63 FIP, 0.982 WHIP, 156 strikeouts, 22 complete games and a 6.8 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: 253-154 with a 2.98 ERA, 130 ERA+, 3.44 FIP, 1.166 WHIP, 1,677 strikeouts, 260 complete games and a 56.5 fWAR
Hubbell played before the Cy Young Award was first introduced in 1956, but the fact that he won the National League MVP Award in 1933 and 1936 -- while finishing third in 1937 -- gives you a pretty good idea of how many times he would have won the top honor now given out to pitchers. Across 16 seasons with the Giants, Hubbell won three ERA titles and posted a 2.98 ERA.
7. Buster Posey (2009-2019; 2021)
Best Season as a Giant: 2012 - .336/.408/.549 with 24 home runs, 103 RBIs, 69 walks, .957 OPS, 171 OPS+ and a 10.1 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: .302/.372/.460 with 158 home runs, 729 RBIs, 540 walks, 1,500 hits, .831 OPS, 129 OPS+ and a 57.6 fWAR
Posey's career was only 12 seasons long, but he managed to win a National League Rookie of the Year Award, National League MVP Award, make seven All-Star teams and win three World Series titles. Posey's peak will give him a pretty compelling Hall of Fame case. At the very least, no Giant should ever wear the No. 28 again.
6. Juan Marichal (1960-1973)
Best Season as a Giant: 1969 - 21-11 with a 2.10 ERA, 168 ERA+, 2.39 FIP, 0.994 WHIP, 205 strikeouts, 27 complete games and a 7.8 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: 243-142 with a 2.89 ERA, 123 ERA+, 3.04 FIP, 1.101 WHIP, 2,303 strikeouts, 244 complete games and 61.2 fWAR
The author of one of the most famous wind-ups in MLB history, Marichal spent 14 of his 16 Hall of Fame seasons as a member of the Giants. With a 2.10 ERA, Marichal won the ERA title in 1969, and made 10 All-Star teams during his time with the Giants. Marichal was one of the first superstars for the team once they moved to San Francisco.
5. Willie McCovey (1959-1973; 1977-1980)
Best Season as a Giant: 1969 - .320/.453/.656 with 45 home runs, 126 RBIs, 121 walks, 1.108 OPS, 209 OPS+ and a 7.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: .274/.377/.524 with 469 home runs, 1,388 RBIs, 1,168 walks, 1,974 hits, .900 OPS, 150 OPS+ and 61.5 fWAR
While another left-handed hitter in Giants history is most famous for hitting balls into "McCovey Cove," you can bet that the man who the section of the San Francisco Bay just beyond the right field wall at Oracle Park is named after would have hit quite a few splash home runs himself. McCovey hit 469 of his 521 career home runs as a member of the Giants. McCovey, who is 21st in MLB history in home runs, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.
4. Christy Mathewson (1900-1916)
Best Season as a Giant: 1908 - 37-11 with a 1.43 ERA, 169 ERA+, 1.29 FIP, 0.827 WHIP, 259 strikeouts, 34 complete games and a 10.8 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: 373-188 with a 2.13 ERA, 136 ERA+, 2.26 FIP, 1.058 WHIP, 2,507 strikeouts, 435 complete games and 90.0 fWAR
The Cy Young Award wasn't given out until 50 years after Mathewson last pitched in the majors, but it's fair to assume he would have won quite a few had the honor been given out during his career. Between 1900 and 1911, Mathewson led all pitchers with 73.2 fWAR, edging out, literally, Cy Young. Among all pitchers in MLB history, Mathewson's 70.2 WAR 7 -- a player's top seven individual season bWAR totals added up -- is fifth.
3. Mel Ott (1926-1947)
Best Season as a Giant: 1932 - .318/.424/.601 with 38 home runs, 123 RBIs, 100 walks, 1.025 OPS, 174 OPS+ and an 8.1 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: .304/.414/.533 with 511 home runs, 1,860 RBIs, 1,708 walks, 2,876 hits, .947 OPS, 155 OPS+ and 110.5 fWAR
Ott is third in Giants history in home runs with 511, having spent his entire 22-year career with the New York *baseball* Giants. Ott never won a National League MVP Award, but he finished in the top 10 in voting six different times and made 12 All-Star teams.
2. Barry Bonds (1993-2007)
Best Season as a Giant: 2001 - .328/.515/.863 with 73 home runs, 137 RBIs, 177 walks, 1.379 OPS, 259 OPS+ and a 12.5 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: .312/.477/.666 with 586 home runs, 1,440 RBIs, 2,558 walks, 1,951 hits, 1.143 OPS, 199 OPS+ and a 116 fWAR
This list is simply looking at a player's impact on the Giants organization, not the entirety of their career if part of it was spent elsewhere. If you had factored in Bonds' seven seasons in Pittsburgh, he would have the top resume of anyone on this list. As is, Bonds won five National League MVP Awards with the Giants, more than any other player in the history of the sport has won in their entire career. He set the single-season home run record in 2001 when he hit 73 home runs. He set the single-season walks record in 2004 with 232. And in 2007, his final season with the Giants, Bonds surpassed Henry Aaron for most home runs in MLB history, finishing at 762.
1. Willie Mays (1951-1952; 1954-1972)
Best Season as a Giant: 1965 - .317/.398/.645 with 52 home runs, 112 RBIs, 76 walks, 1.043 OPS, 185 OPS+ and a 10.7 fWAR
Career Stats as a Giant: .304/.385/.564 with 646 home runs, 1,859 RBIs, 1,394 walks, 3,187 hits, .949 OPS, 157 OPS+ and 147.7 fWAR
One of the greatest all-around players in MLB history, Mays played in 155 games for the Giants between 1951 and 1952, before missing the entire 1953 serving for the United States military in Korea. Mays returned to MLB in time for his age-23 season, and won his first National League MVP Award. Mays would spend parts of 21 seasons with the Giants franchise (six in New York, 15 in San Francisco). The "Say Hey Kid" won two NL MVPs, 12 Gold Gloves and helped the Giants to win the 1954 World Series during his illustrious career spent almost exclusively with one franchise.