Selecting San Francisco Giants' All-21st Century Team, Position by Position

Jasper SchererAnalyst IIApril 15, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 12:  (L-R) Shortstop Rich Aurilia #35, left fielder Barry Bonds #25, and second baseman Jeff Kent #21 of the San Francisco Giants walk to the dugout after Barry Bonds' three run home run in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game three of the National League Championship Series during the 2002 World Series at Pacific Bell Park on October 12, 2002 in San Francisco, California.  Cardinals defeated the Giants 5-4  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With four division titles, three World Series appearances and two World Series titles during the 21st century, the San Francisco Giants have enjoyed exceptional success in the new millennium. That certainly made selecting an All-21st Century Team a difficult task, with so many qualified players from the variety of winning teams throughout the past decade and a half. Let's take a look at who made the cut:

C: Buster Posey

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 03:  Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants warms up on deck during the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 3, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.   The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 8-5.  (Photo by Christi
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Other than picking left field, it didn't get much easier than this. Posey, winner of just about anything one can win at the major league level (two World Series rings, MVP, Rookie of the Year), has set the gold standard for the catcher position in his short time in the majors, putting up big numbers at the plate while commanding one of the better rotations in the majors.

All that's left is for Posey to maintain his production. He's already achieved what many players spend their entire careers trying to accomplish, and now he'll again attempt to try to lead his team into the playoffs. Can Posey live up to the high expectations? Time will tell.

1B: J.T. Snow

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 6:   J.T. Snow #6 of the San Francisco Giants connects for a hit against the San Diego Padres during the MLB game on July 6, 2003 in San Diego, California.  The Giants defeated the Padres 3-2.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Whatever he lacked in hitting ability, Snow more than made up for it with his glove and his heart.

Few, if any, first basemen in the early 2000s rivaled Snow's fielding prowess, and while his streak of six consecutive Gold Gloves lasted only until 2000, he remained a top fielder even in the early part of the decade.

Snow's ability to anchor the right side of the infield was key to the Giants' 2002 playoff run, but he could nearly earn a spot on the list just for that famous moment in the 2002 World Series, when he saved 3-year-old Darren Baker from a potentially dangerous incident at home plate. That in itself was worth the price of admission.

He's a player whose value transcends numbers, though the stats in San Francisco (124 HR, .357 OBP, .807 OPS) were darn good, too. Fans often seem to overlook that part of Snow's game. The question now becomes: Can Brandon Belt eventually overtake Snow?

2B: Jeff Kent

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 9:  Center fielder Jim Edmonds #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals tries to break up a double play as he slides into second baseman Jeff Kent #21 of the San Francisco Giants in Game one of the National League Championship Series during the
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

He might have gone on to play for the Dodgers, but that didn't diminish what Kent accomplished during his six seasons in San Francisco. (Some Giants fans may beg to differ, however.)

Either way, the future Hall of Fame second baseman put up his best numbers with the Giants, by a long shot. He averaged a hair under 30 homers per season, posted an overall .903 OPS and won the 2000 NL MVP. He might have spent only three season with the team during the 21st century, but they were memorable seasons indeed.

3B: Pablo Sandoval

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run to center field against Al Alburquerque #62 of the Detroit Tigers in the fifth inning during Game One of the Major League Baseba
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

On top of leading Giants third basemen in most statistical categories this century, Sandoval also has a World Series MVP to his name.

The latter accomplishment alone would be enough to at least put Sandoval in contention, but Panda clinched the spot with the impressive numbers he's put up during his six-plus seasons with the team. Indeed, the stats are pretty phenomenal considering just how much negative coverage Sandoval has received during his career.

The Giants third baseman owns a career .295 batting average, and he's approaching his 100th career home run. Over a 162-game span, Sandoval averages 88 RBI and 76 runs scored, while often playing on subpar offensive squads. That's not bad.

SS: Rich Aurilia

SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 21: Rich Aurilia #35 of the San Francisco Giants fields the ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a Major League Baseball game on April 21, 2007 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Aurilia wins this spot by default, as the only other player to spend close to as much time at shortstop as he did during this century was an out-of-his-prime Omar Vizquel.

Aurilia actually debuted with the Giants in 1995, but his best years came in the early 2000s, including 2001, when he led the league in hits to go along with 37 home runs and 114 runs scored. Aurilia also came up big during the Giants' 2002 World Series run, when he hit two home runs in each series during the postseason.

In total, Aurilia ranks in the top five all time among Giants shortstops in hits, doubles, homers, RBI, walks and OPS. Brandon Crawford might be gaining on him a bit, but for now Aurilia has a stranglehold on the position.

LF: Barry Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 23:  Barry Bonds #25 of the San Francisco Giants is intentionally walked in the first inning of game four during the World Series against the Anaheim Angels at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, California on October 23, 2002.  Th
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

What's left to say? You know about the home runs, the walks and the legendary World Series performancehome runs in the first three games of the series, four overall.

Some fans forget that Bonds was actually an excellent fielder and base stealer back in the day. Those abilities declined at the turn of the century, but Bonds was still quite a bit more than simply the home run hitter that most fans know him as today.

Even so, it's hard to look past the home run king's most notable trait: launching balls out of AT&T Park, including into McCovey Cove. (Bonds is responsible for 35 of the 64 splash hits into the cove.) Not everyone loved the man, but one thing's for sure: Bonds always put on a show.

CF: Angel Pagan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 13:  Angel Pagan #16 of the San Francisco Giants hits a two-run single driving in Michael Morse #38 and Brandon Hicks #14 against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fifth inning at AT&T Park on April 13, 2014 in San Franci
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

This one was up for grabs, with only Marquis Grissom and Pagan starting in center on Opening Day more than twice this century. But while one could make an argument for either Grissom or Pagan, the edge goes to the latter because he helped lead his team to a championship.

Pagan also plays better defense than Grissom did, the latter of whom had tired, 38-year-old legs that didn't hold up quite as well in the cavernous AT&T Park outfield. Pagan also sports a nice-looking .293 batting average in a Giants uniform, a total boosted by his red-hot start to the 2014 season.

RF: Randy Winn

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 13:  Randy Winn #2 of the San Francisco Giants stands up after reaching third base during their game against the Washington Nationals at AT&T Park on May 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Did you know that it took until 2005-06 for the Giants to have the same right fielder start back-to-back Opening Day games during the 21st century? Moises Alou was the man to accomplish the feat, but it's Winn who gets the nod for right field.

Winn started his Giants career off with a bang, batting .359 as he spent most of the second half of the 2005 season with the Giants. He reached the .300 mark two other times (2007, 2008), finishing with a .290 average, 343 runs scored and 51 homers during his time in San Francisco.

Plus, how could you forget that leg kick?

SP: Tim Lincecum

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 28:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies during a Major League Baseball game at AT&T Park on August 28, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

He might not be as effective as he once was, but nothing can take away Lincecum's back-to-back Cy Youngs, his three consecutive seasons leading the league in strikeouts or his 2.47 ERA across 54.2 postseason innings.

Will we ever see the Lincecum of old? Almost certainly not. But for two magical seasons (four if you include his good-but-not-amazing 2010 and 2011 performances), Big Time Timmy Jim was a joy to watch. His partner in crime, Matt Cain, finishes a close second, along with Jason Schmidt, but that stretch from 2008-09 was enough to give Lincecum the starting pitcher spot.

Setup: Santiago Casilla

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 08:  Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning at AT&T Park on April 8, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won the game 4-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Hender
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

If you actually take a good long look at the Giants rosters from the early 21st century, you'll notice there's a serious deficiency of consistent setup men. That all changed in 2010, when Casilla came onto the job.

Since signing as a free agent after six mediocre seasons in Oakland, Casilla has posted a 2.12 ERA while bolstering the bullpen for each of the two World Series victories. An often overlooked and taken-for-granted piece of the Giants' championship puzzles, Casilla earns a deserved spot on the team as the eighth-inning guy.

Closer: (tie) Robb Nen and Sergio Romo

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 2:  Robb Nen #31 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Benito Santiago #33 after the Giants defeated the Braves 8-5 in Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series on October 2, 2002  at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Imagine having this dilemma: You have Sergio Romo and Robb Nen waiting in the 'pen to pitch the ninth inning in a one-run game. Who do you call?

Remember, only three of Nen's five seasons with the Giants took place after 1999, but he nevertheless put up more than 40 saves in each of those seasons. In his best season, 2000, Nen posted a 1.50 ERA, saved 41 games and finished fourth in Cy Young voting and 12th in the MVP race.

Meanwhile, Romo doesn't quite match up to Nen savewise, with just 58 in his career, but he's recorded countless key outs throughout the Giants' postseason runs, including one of the most important: the final out of the 2012 World Series.

In fact, if you take out Romo's rough 2010 NLDS performance, he's allowed just one run in 13.2 postseason innings. While Nen was no slouch in the playoffs either, Romo makes up for his regular season statistical disadvantage to Nen with the countless clutch outs he's procured in October.


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