Designated Hitter - Brian Giles
Brian Giles wasn’t a designated hitter as he spent a good portion of his career in the outfield. However, I still wanted to include him on this line-up somewhere. Also, considering there isn’t too many starting pitchers who could have made this line-up, and the fact that no reliever would be mentioned since almost every single relief prospect is not on any top 100 lists, I’ll give Brian Giles the last spot today.
Giles was a 17th round pick, but not by the Pirates. He was selected by Cleveland in the 1989 MLB draft. Despite posting quality numbers throughout each of his minor league seasons, he never appeared in on any top 100 lists. He also never played much for Cleveland, only appearing in 299 games spread across four seasons. When he did play, he was quite productive, batting .284/.391/.485 with a 124 wRC+.
However, Giles hit his stride with the Pirates. Acquired in the 1998 off-season, Giles immediately made a major impact for the Pirates. Giles spent the next four-and-three-quarters seasons with the Bucs, batting .308/.426/.591, coming out to a .426 wOBA, and 156 wRC+. Despite his relatively short tenure in Pittsburgh, he became one of the team’s best hitters throughout their history on a rate basis. He ranks 2nd in wRC+, K:BB ratio at 1.54, BB% (16.7%), first in OPS, wOBA, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and batting average. The only rate stat he isn’t top two in is K%, which is still a strong 10.9%, which is still top ten all-time.
Giles also owns maybe the most underrated season in the Pirates’ history. In 2002, Giles batted .298/.450/.622 with nearly twice as many walks (135) to strikeouts (74), 38 home runs, and 15 stolen bases. Giles had a 174 wRC+ and .444 wOBA. Giles was second to Barry Bonds in wRC+, wOBA, OPS, slugging, and OBP in the National League. Giles, despite his outstanding hitting, didn’t even finish top ten in National League MVP voting, finishing 13th. Sure, the Pirates weren’t a great team and Giles was far from a great fielder, but there’s no reason why the second best hitter in the National League shouldn’t finish top ten in voting, at the very least.
The National League was absolutely stacked when Giles was having a career year, however. Barry Bonds was the big story with his outrageous numbers. However, you also had the likes of Albert Pujols just entering his early prime, as well as stars like Vladimir Guerrero, Jeff Kent, and the two-headed snake monster in Arizona in Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Not to mention others like Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Chipper Jones, Sammy Sosa, Jim Edmonds, and Andruw Jones.