During the offseason, I decided to purchase a subscription to the Baseball Reference Play Index and with that subscription, I found out so much more about why Matt Cain is one of the most underrated pitchers of the last 10 years. Their site allows you to organize career stats in many different ways very easily, such as how many games has Matt Cain pitched in his career where he went at least 7 innings and gave up 3 runs or less. (The number is 125 by the way.)

That gave me an idea. Who are the best San Francisco Giants of All-Time? Not in the history of the franchise, but just since 1958. Since WAR (Wins Above Replacement) has been widely viewed as a good barometer of who the best players are, I decided to make an NCAA style bracket of San Francisco Giants based on WAR.

Not surprisingly, the top four were obvious: Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. These four would become the #1 seeds and the names of my brackets. The “Say Hey Kid” bracket, the “GOAT” bracket, the “Stretch” bracket, and the “Dominican Dandy” bracket.

It was great seeing that current players like Cain, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, and Madison Bumgarner were already good enough to make the cut. It was also interesting to see some of the fans most popular former and current players right on the cusp of 64. This made it very easy to include the “Play in Games” just like the NCAA has recently. This included matchups like this:

 

As we approached the first round, their were some interesting matchups and one particular flaw with WAR: closers. Two of the greatest closers in team history were also two of the fans most loved players. The late Rod Beck and Robb Nen. Both left a mark on the fanbase, but because WAR doesn’t equate closers in the same way as other pitchers, they had a tough road in the tourney. That being said, the tournament had started and fans on Twitter were having a great time. Some of the highlights from the 1st round:

Hunter Pence‘s complete beatdown of Jeff Kent.

Pablo Sandoval losing to Ray Durham, mostly because fans were sad Pablo left for Boston. (Sidenote: This was done before Panda’s comments about not missing the Giants at all)

An epic battle between Matt Cain and Mike Krukow.

And getting some love from Sports Illustrated photographer Brad Mangin for using his Ed Halicki photo.

As we approached the round of 32, matchups became even tougher and players were pitted against one another making it nearly impossible for Giants fans to decide. Some of highlights included:

Willie Mays barely beating World Series phenom Madison Bumgarner.

Kirk Rueter upsetting Gaylord Perry.

Having to put my childhood favorite, Kevin Mitchell, against my all-time favorite Cain.

Rich Aurilia being a great sport about an impossible battle.

 

The round of 16 had some matchups that really showed the age of Giants fans. Were they going to fight to keep current players like Cain, Lincecum, Posey and Bumgarner in the tournament? Were they going to fight for Bonds, Mays, McCovey and Marichal. Let’s take a look at the two closest match ups:

Willie Mays and Buster Posey receiving 98 total votes, splitting right down the middle. However, at the time I cut off the voting, Mays had a 1 vote lead.

Tim Lincecum’s mustache and ability to make baseballs float in mid air beating the greatest pitcher in San Francisco Giants history.

Now it was down to the Elite 8, and there would be no sugarcoating anymore. These were match ups fans were dreading. Time to rip off the band-aid and show you:

Willie Mays defeated Orlando Cepeda in the only blowout.

Tim Lincecum pulling away in the 2nd half to defeat Matt Cain.

J.T. Snow had fan support early, but ultimately was no match for Barry Bonds.

Willie McCovey defeating Will Clark.

So we had reached the Final Four and the #4 seed Tim Lincecum joined #1 seeds Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Willie McCovey. Fans had spoken and it was clear that despite several upsets throughout the tournament, the greatest of all-time couldn’t be denied.

Willie Mays defeated Tim Lincecum to reach the championship game.

Barry Bonds squeaked by Willie McCovey at the buzzer to reach the championship game.

I was happy to see that the two greatest Giants of all-time survived to the championship game. Despite the popularity of players such as Pence, Rueter, Snow, Lincecum and others, the Giants fans retweeted and favorited just enough to ensure the championship would be the two greatest living baseball players in team history and maybe baseball history.

And the Winner and STILL champion…The Greatest of All-Time, The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays

Can’t wait until next off-season to do this again and see who upsets who and to see if Willie can defend his title. A huge thank you to all who participated and voted on Twitter back in December.

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