Former slugger Brian Giles debuts on BBWAA ballot

Brian Giles battled into his late 20s to get a shot at becoming a big league regular.

Once he won that battle, Giles won over his critics in becoming one of the most consistent offensive forces of his era.

Giles debuts on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot this fall, one of 34 players on the 2015 BBWAA ballot for the Class of 2015.

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 6. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 26 in Cooperstown.


Giles was born Jan. 20, 1971 in El Cajon, Calif., and was drafted out of high school by the Cleveland Indians in the 17th round of the 1989 MLB Draft. He worked his way through a deep Indians farm system that was systematically restocked by general manager John Hart in the early 1990s, often spending two years at each level but always displaying a keen batting eye.

By 1994, Giles began to develop power from a left-handed swing generated from his 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame. And after three straight seasons with at least a .310 batting average and 15 home runs at Triple-A from 1994-96, Giles left the Indians no choice but to include him in their big league plans.

In his first full year in the majors in 1997, Giles hit .268 with 17 homers and 61 RBI as a fourth outfielder for a powerful Cleveland team that won the American League pennant. He drew four walks and added two hits in just eight plate appearances in the World Series, but the Indians lost to the Marlins in seven games.

After again serving as a reserve outfielder in 1998, the Indians traded Giles to the Pirates for reliever Ricardo Rincon prior to the 1999 season. The Pirates immediately made the 28-year-old Giles their starting center fielder, and Giles responded with a .315 batting average, 39 home runs and 115 RBI while posting a .418 on-base percentage. From 1999-2002, Giles – who eventually moved to left field for the Pirates – averaged 37 home runs, 109 RBI and 108 walks per season, earning two All-Star Game berths.

“We thought he’d do well, but we never figured we’d get (almost) 40 home runs and 120 RBI,” said Pirates manager Gene Lamont.

But with the Pirates entering a rebuilding phase, Pittsburgh dealt Giles to his hometown Padres on Aug. 26, 2003 in exchange for three prospects including Jason Bay.

“He does everything we’re looking for,” said Padres general manager Kevin Towers at the time of the trade. “Plus he’s from San Diego, which helps. We haven’t had anybody with that type of star power and local ties since Tony Gwynn.”

Giles’ power numbers declined over the next few seasons, but he still averaged 104 walks per season from 2003-06, including a league-leading 119 free passes in 2005. Giles helped the Padres advance to the postseason as National League West champions in both 2005 and 2006.

An arthritic knee forced Giles to retire in Spring Training in 2010 after he signed with the Dodgers as a free agent. He finished his 15-year big league career with a .291 batting average, 1,897 hits, 411 doubles, 287 home runs and more walks (1,183) than strikeouts (835). His .3998 career on-base percentage (rounded to .400) marks him as one of only 56 non-active players in big league history with an OBP of at least .400.

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