There's a fine article about how the championship Astros were built over several years of 100-loss seasons at http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/21259764/how-astros-won-world-series-betting-ability-predict-baseball. We won't call them the "anti-Giants," exactly, but there is a major difference between the way this champion-- and, to some extent, last year's champion Cubs team, too-- was built, and the Giants' organizational strategy (we hesitate to say "philosophy").
And so much for all that. Rather than focus on the forgettable 2017 season, or speculate on the immediate future, today we take the long look, in our curmudgeonly old-school fashion, and turn our attention to those current Giants who are slowly moving up the ladder of the franchise's all-time greats. That is to say, we've updated the "Greatest Players in San Francisco Giants History" page to your right, and we'll take this opportunity to share what's changed.
No Giant had a MVP or Cy Young season, or close to it, in 2017. But a few-- Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Joe Panik-- continue to write their names among the greatest players in San Francisco's 60-year Giants history.
Posey is already the greatest catcher in the history of the Giants franchise, and that goes all the way back to New York. He took over that spot some time ago, perhaps as long ago as 2013, but now with eight seasons in the league he has the longevity, and by any other measure he's far ahead. Buster, 30 years old, already ranks as the fifth-greatest San Francisco Giant of all time, behind only Mays, Bonds, Marichal, and McCovey; even with a non-MVP-level season he passed Bobby Bonds and Will Clark this year. If he plays out his career with the Giants, he will probably pass Willie Mac, too. He's also the 19th-greatest Giant of all time, going back 120 years, and will likely crack the top ten there before he's done. Most, if not all, the guys ahead of him are already in the Hall of Fame; we'll visit that subject another day.
Brandon Crawford moved into the top-20 list of San Francisco Giants this year, despite a season he'd probably like to forget. He displaced Jimmy Davenport and now ranks just behind Jim Barr. Crawford passed Chris Speier a year ago as the best shortstop in San Francisco history.
Madison Bumgarner, dirt-bike wreck and all, still put up enough WAR to ease past the just-retired Matt Cain into fourth place among San Francisco pitchers, and is now tied with Orlando Cepeda as the 11th-greatest San Francisco Giant. Remember, he's still only 28 years old. And as we noted when commenting on his retirement, Cain remains essentially where he was four years ago.
Those three are the only active players among the top 20 all-time San Francisco Giants. Two other members of the active roster moved up relative to their positions. Joe Panik took over fifth place among Giants second basemen, displacing one of our old favorites, Ron Hunt. Brandon Belt now ranks fourth among Giants first basemen. He has little or no chance to catch the Big Three, of course, but he has now outpointed J.T. Snow. (We trust you will forgive us if we confess we'd rather have the Jater anyway, thankyaverymuch.) Meanwhile, Hunter Pence did nothing in 2017 to improve his standing as the fourth-best San Francisco right fielder, and it's even money or less whether he ever will now.
Time marches on. Will Giancarlo Stanton ever get on this list, or even become a candidate for it? We await the word.