Appreciating Brian Giles: Is He A Hall of Famer?

Could Brian Giles, a man of small stature who could hit baseballs very far, have a plaque in this building? - Jim McIsaac

Brian Giles did not hit a lot of home runs, and in an era populated with many home run hitters he went under the radar because of that. Let's take a look at the career of Brian Giles.

This post has humble beginnings.

It was a cold Sunday night, after an exhilarating day of football watching, Spencer Schneier was perusing the Fangraphs leaderboards. What was he doing on those very leaderboards, one may ask? Well he was looking for something to write about for notoriously sexy internet weblog Beyond the Box Score, a land of mystical discoveries about baseball, a sport invented in 1839 by the magnificent Abner Doubleday.

He stumbled upon the fine career of one Brian Giles, and began to ponder: Why is it that a player of such skill and beauty could be so neglected by baseball-viewers?

Brian Giles was a man of small stature, standing at just 5'10. While he may not have been large in stature, he certainly carried a big stick. In an era of massive home run totals, Giles' numbers will not stand out, as he hit just 287 career homers. Furthermore, he lacked the extreme peaks home run-wise of Sammy Sosa and his other counterparts, with his single-season high being 38. Despite this, it should be noted that Giles' career slugging percentage stands at .502.

Brian Giles was a man of many talents, most of which are under-appreciated by the average baseball fan. Please note that Giles was an incredibly disciplined hitter, posting a career walk rate of 15.1%, 18th among hitters since 1990. Not only did he take his fair share of walks, but when he chose to swing the bat, he often did not miss- his SwStr% from when they began counting the stat in 2002 until the end of his career was a minuscule 3.5%. This number is the 11th lowest over that time period, and when one looks at the hitters ahead of him, it becomes even more impressive.

Inevitably, when talking about one's career, the question will arise. Is he a Hall of Fame player? Using Adam Darowski's excellent Hall of Stats tool, it shows Giles as being right on the brink of Hall of Fame-worthiness. His hall score of 98, which is two points below the minimum threshold of 100 to be considered a hall-worthy player. The website credits 57% of his score to his peak, and 43% to his longevity.

So in order to give Giles some perspective, I've compared him to another anonymous player who many consider to be a no-doubt Hall of Famer, to see how he stacks up.

fWAR

wOBA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

UZR/150

Hall Rating

Player A

59.2

0.388

136

0.291

0.400

0.502

-2.8

98

Player B

64.1

0.370

123

0.273

0.344

0.534

-5.7

114

Player B edges player in in power and Hall Rating, while Player A edges Player B in wOBA, wRC+, batting average, and UZR/150 (they played the same position).

Player A is Brian Giles, Player B is Sammy Sosa.

While both of them were very good players, the way in which they amassed value was very different. Giles got on base at a higher clip and had a higher slugging percentage, but Sosa had the ability to hit the ball out of the park on any given pitch.

Sosa gains his advantage in Hall Rating based on his stats after being adjusted, gaining roughly a six point lead on Giles in adjWAA, and a 6 point lead in adjWAR as well.

Despite the fact that he may not be a Hall of Famer, it is important that one ponders these statistics that I have laid out. Without doing this, one might miss the excellent career that Brian Giles had. He will most likely never get the recognition he deserves, as he was a player that was overshadowed by the Steroid Era, and the fact that his skills are hitting doubles and walking, neither of which are particularly flashy.

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