Brian “I coulda been gold” Giles

Brian Giles retired this week and The Hardball Times has a really good article about Giles’ career and how basically an outfield of hall of famers and Petco Park ruined him.

About to turn 28 and not getting a full-time shot in the competitive Cleveland lineup, Giles was traded to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates for Ricardo Rincon, straight up.

Finally given a full season of plate appearances in Pittsburgh, Giles didn’t disappoint. From 1999 through 2002, Giles averaged .309/.426/.604 with 37 home runs and 10 stolen bases. With his small-market team never winning more than 78 games and other hitters shattering home run records, Giles got little recognition. In these four seasons, he made only two All-Star teams and never finished higher than 13th in MVP voting.

[Giles was moved to San Diego for Jason Bay] Unfortunately for Giles, the Padres were about to move into the worst hitters’ park in the majors, and one that is particularly hard on left-handed power hitters. While his road numbers indicate that his power hitting days were in the past, PETCO did its part to suppress Giles’ power. According to the Bill James Handbook 2010, PETCO has a three-year left-handed batter homer park factor of 61, meaning lefty HR output was reduced by roughly 40 percent. Here are Giles’ home/road splits since 2004:

My least favorite thing in the world is a talent that’s blocked and isn’t traded.  Seriously, what was Jon Hart thinking there, that’s hilariously unfair. How do you not get your first chance to start full-time with his minors track record until you’re 28?

And then to top it off, Giles had to end his twilight years in Petco’s cavernous outfield.  This is Ryan Howard’s story and Jimmy Wynn’s combined.

Ben Jedlovec, the writer of the article, says in the comments that the article wasn’t to question whether Giles was actually worthy of the Hall, as the title suggests, but to raise awareness of how good Giles was.

It’s a very good point.  Surely a full career starting at at least age 25 and a regulation park would have had ended with gaudier career totals for Giles.

There’s a lot of “what could’ve been” in baseball, but I can’t think of anyone that’s had harder luck with that kind of skill in the pro levels. Except maybe Matt Stairs …


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