In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we take a look back on the career of outfielder Brian Giles. The Cleveland Indians drafted Giles in the 17th round of the 1989 Major League Draft out of Granite High School in California. The stud outfielder got his first major league call-up in 1995 and had nine plate appearances. He batted a whopping .556, with three RBIs and one home run, all while playing six games.
The following year, Giles saw significantly more playing time with 51 games where he batted a .358 BABIP, .435 wOBA, and an outstanding wRC+ of 153. Now granted, it was all on a shortened season with only 51 games, but this showed real promise in a relatively unknown 17th round draft pick.
Giles established himself as a regular at the age of 26 in the MLB, leaving some to wonder what could’ve been if he was called up earlier. His advanced stats like wOBA dropped to a .362 along with his wRC+ with a 115; although both were above the league average. The thing that stood out for Giles in his first full year was not only his power, but his patience. He hit 17 home runs, with a base on ball percentage of 14% along and a strikeout rate of 14%
While Giles played 130 games in 1997, he dipped a bit in 1998 with only 112 games. During the 1998 season, the young outfielder had a bit of an odd season. He hit 16 home runs, with 66 RBIs and a wRC+ of 121. Although his base on ball percentage went up to an excellent 17%, his strikeout rate rose to 17.4%.
In the winter of 1998, the Cleveland Indians traded away Brian Giles to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Ricardo Rincon. Giles took full advantage of his new opportunity. He totaled 39 home runs, tied for 14th that season. He also hit 115 RBI’s, and with a dazzling .315 batting average. The best part about that season lies in the advanced stats department with a .433 wOBA, 154 wRC+, and an excellent 6.7 WAR.
To start the new millennium, Giles earned his first All-Star appearance. That season, he continued his powerful ways with 35 home runs backed up by a decent .305 BABIP, all while showing patience with an outstanding base on ball percentage of 16.6%. He led the Pirates that season in walks, home runs, RBIs, doubles and triples. His 123 RBIs were eight shy of the record set by Paul Waner back in 1927.
The 2001 campaign was business as usual for Giles, earning what turned out to be his last All-Star appearance. In 674 at bats, he amounted 37 home runs, a career-high in runs scored with 116, and 95 RBIs. His advanced stats showed a similar run too, with a strikeout rate of just 9.9%; as well as a .413 wOBA, and yet another 150 wRC+. If anything, Giles was remarkably consistent and patient in a Pirates uniform.
The 2002 season was the final full year the two-time All-Star spent with Pittsburgh. In that last year, he set career highs with the team in wRC+ with 174, and a base on ball percentage of 21%; only second to Barry Bonds. Giles also managed to rack up 15 stolen bases to go with a wOBA of .444. In August of 2003, Giles was traded away to the San Diego Padres for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez. He ended his Pirate career with a bating average never dipping below .298.
The last seven years of his career were spent with the Padres. He did put together season with 30 or more home runs. On February 7th, 2010, Giles officially retired after a failed attempt to make a comeback with the Los Angeles Dodgers in spring training.
Although Brian Giles only spent four years in the Steel City, he left an impression that most young fans will never forget. With his towering home runs and his uncanny ability to hit in crunch time, most fans will cherish the memories Giles left them in Pittsburgh.
Photo Credit- Sports Illustrated