Brian Giles, 2002
Brian Giles is the most underrated bat in Pittsburgh Pirates history. 2002 was probably the best of Giles’ time in Pittsburgh. Somehow, the outfielder didn’t make the All-Star Game after a first half that resembled MVP-level production had it not been for Barry Bonds.
Through his first 343 plate appearances of the season, Giles was hitting for a .299/.426/.612 line with a 165 wRC+. His wRC+ was 8th in all of baseball, and 4th in the National League. He only trailed Barry Bonds (234!), Sammy Sosa (173) and Jim Edmonds (169). Giles had also crushed 22 home runs, placing him 5th in the NL.
Just to show how good he was in the first half of 2002, Albert Pujols was hitting .294/.393/.579 with 21 home runs and a 156 wRC+. Giles was top 10 in the NL in wRC+, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA (.431), and position player fWAR (3.5). Yet, somehow, didn’t make the All-Star Game. What really hurt Giles’ chances was the fact he was on a pretty nondescript Pirates team and All-Star voting sometimes comes down to who is more popular.
Giles finished the year strong. Overall in 2002, Giles put up a .298/.450/.622 line, 38 home runs, a 177 OPS+ and 174 wRC+. His 174 wRC+ was actually 5th in baseball, but second in the National League. Only Bonds, who had a 244 mark, was ahead of him, which is literally the highest wRC+ mark of all time.
Simply put, Brian Giles was the second best batter in the National League in 2002, was only out done by the guy who had the literal single best offensive season ever in baseball history, and still didn’t make the all-star game because he wasn’t as popular as guys like Vlad Guerrero, Chipper Jones or Andruw Jones.