- Published in Top 50 San Francisco Giants
3. Christy Mathewson
There are few players to could lay a stake as the best player at their position in multiple years. Christy Mathewson is one such player and could say so for at least a decade.
The Giants first acquired Mathewson in 1901 from Norfolk in the Virginia-North Carolina League, but his stay was brief, and he was returned to the Minors. The Cincinnati Reds swooped in for Matthewson in that off-season, and the Giants rethought their stance on the Pitcher and traded back for him. It remains one of the best second guesses in sports history.
Mathewson immediately proved the Giants brass correct with a good pair of seasons followed by a breakout where he went 30-13 and led the NL in Strikeouts with 267. The Giants won the Pennant the following year but would not play in the World Series due to acrimony between both teams (Boston) management, and Mathewson, who had 33 Wins, and was again the Strikeout Champion (212), was deprived of a chance for a Title. That would not happen in 1905.
Mathewson won the Pitcher's Triple Crown (31 Wins, 1.28 ERA & 206 SO), and the Giants would not be denied, with Mathewson leading them to their first World Series. Winning the Triple Crown again in 1908 (37 Wins, 1.43 ERA. 259 SO), Mathewson won another ERA Title in 1909 with a sparkling 1.14. For the remainder of the decade, Mathewson remained the elite hurler in the NL.
As his power dissipated in the 1910s, his accuracy increased, keeping him as a dominant mound maestro. Mathewson won two more ERA Titles (1911 & 1913), and he had a five-year run (1911-15) leading the NL in BB/9, giving him seven in total. The team around him improved, and Mathewson brought the Giants to three straight World Series (1910-12), but although he pitched well, the team floundered and gave little run support, and New York lost all three.
Mathewson's skills eroded in 1915, and he quickly became a shell of his former self. He was traded to the Reds during the 1916 Season, where he became a Player/Manager, but he only appeared in one Game as a player. He is the all-time franchise leader in bWAR for Pitchers (100.6), ERA (2.12), Wins (372), Innings Pitched (4,779.2), and Strikeouts (2,504). Mathewson was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as part of the first Hall of Fame Class. The Giants honored Mathewson with his name and a "NY," along with the other retired numbers.