Brian Giles Announces Retirement, Was Awesome

Brian Giles retired today, and I have a feeling that he probably won't get the recognition he deserves for being a truly remarkable hitter for a long time. Frankly, I'm not sure he ever got it, though the Padres did once trade Jason Bay and Oliver Perez for him so it seems like someone in San Diego thought very highly of him.

I'm not saying that people didn't realize he was a good player, just that they probably don't realize how good he was for a little while there.

wOBA1 wOBA2 wOBA3 wOBA4
Brian Giles .434 .433 .413 .445
Alex Rodriguez .433 .428 .424 .420
Albert Pujols .462 .439 .436 .448

The table above represents the best consecutive four-season stretches for Giles (1999-2002), Alex Rodriguez (2000-2003), and Albert Pujols (2003-2006). They don't necessarily represent these players' four best seasons, but perhaps the peaks of their careers (though Pujols might actually be in the midst of his peak right now). While Giles has still been a decent player for the last few years (notwithstanding 2009), he doesn't have nearly the dominant longevity of the other two. Nevertheless, his offensive peak was at least as good as Rodriguez's and not too far off from Pujols's, which puts Giles in pretty good company with arguably the two best non-Bondsian players of the past decade.

Giles's traditional offensive slash lines for those seasons are just awesome.

AVG OBP SLG OPS
1999 .315 .418 .614 1.032
2000 .315 .432 .594 1.026
2001 .309 .404 .590 .994
2002 .298 .450 .622 1.072

The highest Giles ever finished in the MVP voting was 13th in 2002, and he was only an All-Star in two of his four peak seasons. Leg injuries—his knees and ankles in particular—destroyed his power following 2002, as it dipped from .622 to .514. The massive alleys at Petro Park surely did him no favors either, though Giles was able to stick around for a number of years on the strength of his superb eye at the plate. He'll retire with considerably more walks than strikeouts: 1183 to 835. He doesn't have 300 homeruns or even 2,000 hits, and he doesn't really have a chance to make the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in five years, but at his best he was surpassed by very few of his contemporaries.

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