By LaMarr Fields
The San Francisco Giants struggled in the 1990s and they only made the playoffs in 1997. However, the 90s also brought the Giants Barry Bonds, one of the best players in baseball history, steroids or not. In 1993 the Giants had an outstanding team, it was Bonds's first year, and San Francisco won 103 games but did not make the playoffs. I don't know why the Atlanta Braves were in the NL West, but they won 104 games to win the division. Despite a disappointing decade, there were a handful of bright spots on the Giants roster, and this article intends to shed some light on those players from the 1990s decade.
Catcher: Kirt Manwaring
Kirt Manwaring came to the Giants in 1987 and played there for ten years, including seven years in the 90s. In 1993, Manwaring hit a career-high of .275 to help the Giants win 103 games. He also won a Gold Glove in 1993, and he is on the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame.
First Base: Will Clark
Will Clark did most of his damage in the 1980s for the Giants, but he was also pretty good in the four seasons he played for San Francisco in the 90s. Clark made three All-Star teams and won the Gold Glove in 1991. He was one of the best Giants players in team history and he was one of my favorite Giants players when I was a kid.
Second Base: Robby Thompson
Robby Thompson was a mainstay at second base for the Giants in the 1980s for San Francisco. He was known for his solid defense, but in 1993, Thompson hit a career-high of .312 and added 19 home runs. Thompson was a good player but battled through many injuries that hurt his career. You can not tell the story of the 90s Giants without mentioning Thompson.
Third Base: Matt Williams
This was a no-brainer. Matt Williams was a beast in the 90s with the Giants. He made four straight All-Star teams from 1994 to 1996. Williams led the MLB in home runs in 1994 with 43. He also led the majors in RBIs in 1994. Williams won four gold gloves in the 90s. The Third baseman was great at the plate and on the field. Unfortunately, Williams was traded after the 1996 season, and it made a lot of Giants fans angry.
Shortstop: Royce Clayton
Royce Clayton made his major league debut with the Giants in 1991. He spent five years with the Giants and batted .249 while in San Francisco. In 1993, Clayton also had a career year, hitting .282. However, he was more known for his glove than his bat.
Left Field: Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds came to San Francisco in 1993 for a then-record $43.72 million over six years. In his first season with the Giants, Bonds batted .335 and led the league with 46 home runs and 123 RBIs while winning his second straight MVP Award. In 1996 he became the first player in National League history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases. That same season the left fielder joined the 300-300 club with 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases. Bonds had a fantastic career in the 90s with the Giants; he made a lot of All-Star teams and won five Gold Gloves with the team. He quickly became my favorite Giants player as he was fun to watch. It's a shame he is not in the Hall of Fame.
Center Field: Darren Lewis
Darren Lewis came to San Francisco in 1991. He established himself as one of the top base stealers in the 90s and he was also known for his ability to play outstanding centerfield. In 1993, Lewis set a major league record by playing 243 consecutive innings without error. It was the longest stretch ever by an outfielder. In 1994 when Lewis won a Gold Glove, he broke the MLB record of 267 consecutive games with an error.
Right Field: Wille McGee
I was torn about who to put in right field between Wille McGee or Glenallenn Hill, but in the end, I went with McGee. he signed with the Giants in 1990, returning to his hometown. McGee was a productive player batting near or above .300 until an ankle injury in 1994. The right fielder was an outstanding hitter and played well in right field for the Giants.
John Burkett spent five years with the Giants in the 90s, going 67-42 and posting a 3.83 ERA. In 1993, he won a career-high 22 games and helped the Giants win 103 games. He was an outstanding pitcher for the Giants.
Bill Swift pitched for the Giants for three seasons in the 90s, and he was outstanding. Swift compiled a record of 39-19 with a 2.70 ERA and joined Burkett in 1993 as a 20 game-winner. The former Giant went 21-8 with a 2.08 ERA. Swift went on to pitch the 1994 season for the Giants before heading to the Colorado Rockies.
Kirk Rueter was traded to the Giants during the 1996 season from the Montreal Expos. In the 90s with the Giants, Rueter posted a 45-27 record. He won a career-high 16 games in 1998. While Rueter's ERA was higher than average, he did his job by eating up a lot of innings for the Giants. Rueter was not a power pitcher, he wanted to get you with offspeed pitches and painting the corners.
Mark Gardner joined the Giants in the 1996 season and quickly became the staff's ace. He went 42-33 with the Giants in the late 90s. Like Rueter, Gardner was not a power pitcher, but he knew how to work the count and get batters out.
Bud Black came to San Francisco late in his career but pitched pretty well. Black went 34-32 in four seasons with the Giants. He posted a 3.95 ERA and was a good number three starter. He was left-handed, which helped balance the Giants’ starting rotation.
Closer: Rod Beck
Rod Beck pitched seven seasons in the 90s with the Giants; he was an outstanding closer. He made three All-Star teams with the Giants. The closer saved 199 games with San Francisco and posted a 2.97 ERA. Beck was known for his split-finger fastball that hitters had trouble hitting.
LaMarr Fields is a lifelong baseball fan and he loves the San Francisco Giants. LaMarr writes for several websites including his own L's Sports Takes. You can find him on Twitter at @raiderway83.