We present to you the Top 10 Most Beleaguered San Francisco Giants in recent memory. Some disclaimers before we get started: we stuck to recent players, so spare us the snide comment about Carl Hubbell’s replacement in the 1932 rotation. And we would have like to include Candlestick Park and the Crazy Crab, but we decided to limit the list to real players. On that note, we did not include Mr. Bonds, because we’re not quite where he falls. To the list.
10. Glenallen Hill: once known as Candy Maldonado, Hill lost more fly
balls in the blustery right field corner of Candlestick than any player in recent memory. To make matters worse, he annually led the league in swings and misses, despite wearing those “cool” orange-tinted wrap-around Oakleys for the majority of his three years in SF. Hill struck out 95 times in 98 games in 1996. For comparison’s sake, Bonds struck out 51 times in 130 games last year. GH struck out 845 times total in his career. Maybe that’s where the Candlestick winds came from.
9. Osvaldo Fernandez: The Giants decided to tap into then-booming Cuban market in the winter of ’96. Fidel was glad to send his hotshot pitcher to San Francisco, since Fidel is a Giants fan and since we named a street after him and everything. Unfortunately, the “twenty-seven year-old” Osvaldo then proceeded to go 10-17 in less than two years with the Giants before getting sent down to the minors. Permanently.
8. Deion Sanders: Let’s just say that San Francisco fans didn’t exactly
embrace the speedy two-sport superstar less than a year after he left
the Niners to patrol the secondary for the Dallas Cowboys. He only spent a half-season in the orange and black and was booed every single time he stepped to the plate.
7. Armando Benitez: Armando’s awful 2006 season allowed him to seize the title of Baseball’s Worst Current Pitcher. Byung-Hyun Kim thanks him for taking the crown.
6. Shawn Estes: the Bay Area wanted to love Shawn Estes. It really did. Estes was the fan favorite after his stellar first full season in the bigs, when he went 19-5 with a 3.15 ERA. The ladies loved his boyish good looks, and the guys went gaga over that looping curve. But alas, all went for naught as Estes proved to be a head case, as he struggled with control problems throughout his career in San Francisco. He never won more than 15 games again and after being traded to the Mets, has bounced around from team to team for the last couple years.
5. Atlee Hammaker: Despite somehow making the 1983 All-Star game (in a year he went a very ordinary 10-9), Hammaker may be best known for giving up a key homerun to Jose Oquendo in Game 7 of the 1987 NLCS. Oquendo had previously only hit one homerun all year and only hit 14 in his entire career. The Giants lost the game, the series and the pennant.
4. Tsuyoshi Shinjo: Japan’s then-brightest MLB star arrived in 2002 with great expectations, but a non-so-hot .238 batting average soon landed “Wristbands” Shinjo on the pine. But the good news is that he went back to Japan and found a new way to take the field. Sprinting to the outfield is so overrated. Those Japanese are so revolutionary! Here’s the video:
3. William Van Landingham: Well, the Giants’ premier pitching prospect soon earned a nickname of “William Van Launching Pad.” That about sums it up. Yep.
2. Marvin Benard: In 2002, the Giants leadoff man stole five bases. He hit a homerun every 123 at-bats. He struck out every 4.7 at-bats. And he made $4.2 million in 2002 and 2003. That’s 23 times Willie Mays’ highest salary. Will Clark and Barry Bonds both made less than that in1993. Say it with me, Marvin Benard made $4.2 million.
1. Solomon Torres: You know the story. Torres was a rookie flamethrower with a world of potential before that fateful late summer day in 1993. Scene: the Giants and Braves were entangled in a furious pennant race, coming down to the last game of the season. The Giants played the Dodgers in a four game series, winning the first three games behind Billy Swift, John Burkett and Bryan Hickerson. Of course, the Giants lost that last game 12-1 to the hated Dodgers. Meanwhile, the Rockies lost to the Braves for the 13th time in as many games (they couldn’t win just one game?!), and despite winning a whopping 103 games, the Giants did not make the playoffs. Supposedly, Torres is now doing OK for Pittsburgh. But still.