Which SF Giants from World Series era will get their numbers retired?

Could Buster Posey (right), Brandon Crawford (left) and Tim Lincecum, seen here on May 18, 2013 at Coors Field in Denver, all have their jersey numbers retired by the San Francisco Giants?

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When Brandon Crawford played what was likely his final game in a Giants uniform last month, it closed the book on the team’s dynasty years. Crawford was the last remaining member of those teams still with the Giants, and one of the last still playing, period. And while it was sad to see Crawford go, it was even sadder to consider that period of Giants history over and done with.

It made me a bit wistful, to be honest, especially considering the current state of the franchise. It also got me thinking: Would the Giants retire Crawford’s number when his playing days are over? And given Crawford marks the end of the greatest period in the team’s history since moving West, the bigger picture question is clear: How many people from the dynasty years will receive that honor, versus just being honored on the Giants’ Wall of Fame?

Up until a few years ago, the Giants had been incredibly strict about the criteria for retiring a number: Hall of Fame or bust. That changed with Barry Bonds, who should be in the Hall, and more recently with Will Clark, who was recognized for changing the culture of the organization in the 1980s. That’s important, as the dynasty years will have probably produced more World Series trophies than Hall of Famers.


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With that in mind, I did my best to guess which players have the best chance of seeing their number hanging in the left field corner at Oracle Park in the coming years. There were six names that jumped out, and here they are, ranked by likelihood of number retirement:

Stone Cold Lock

Buster Posey, #28: The face of the franchise, an icon and a legitimate case as the most important player to ever put on a San Francisco Giants jersey. Posey’s arrival changed the course of Giants history, and he was the backbone of the dynasty teams (as well as the record-setting team in 2021). He’s the only surefire Hall of Famer from the dynasty years, but his HOF status shouldn’t have any bearing on whether or not the Giants retire his number — he was that important, and that good. There isn’t much more to be said about his case. Retiring his number is a matter of when, not if.

Bruce Bochy, #15: Not a player, but Bochy is about as sure a thing as Posey. The best manager in San Francisco history and the only one to ever win a ring, let alone three of them. There simply isn’t a dynasty to talk about if Bochy isn’t managing the Giants. Plus, there’s precedent for the Giants honoring a manager, having already retired John McGraw’s “number,” and Bochy’s accomplishments put him right with McGraw in the annals of team history. Unless he wins another few rings in Texas, he’ll be wearing a Giants hat on his Cooperstown plaque, and his number will sit between Carl Hubbell’s and Monte Irvin’s.


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Really, Really Strong Case

Madison Bumgarner, #40: When you almost single-handedly win your team the World Series, chances are pretty good you’ll have your number retired. Not only did Bumgarner accomplish this feat in 2014, he’s also at the top of the list of greatest postseason pitchers of all time — two Wild Card game shutouts, a 2.11 career postseason ERA, and just one earned run given up in 36 World Series innings seem like video game numbers. The only thing that could possibly hold up a ceremony is if there’s any acrimony lingering from either Bumgarner or the Giants over how his time here ended. We’ve never quite heard the full story about how that all went down, but time heals all wounds, right? Bumgarner’s postseason heroics may not be enough to get him into the Hall, but they should be more than enough for the Giants.

Tim Lincecum, #55: With all due respect to Bumgarner and Juan Marichal, there may not be a more important pitcher in Giants history than Lincecum. For years before his arrival, the Giants were mired in mediocrity, desperately trying to piece together a competitive roster around Bonds at the end of his career. They’d seen prospect after prospect fail to live up to the hype, and then came Lincecum. He didn’t just live up to the hype, he exceeded it, electrifying the fan base, winning Cy Youngs, and offering the promise of better days to come. It’s impossible to overstate just how much impact he had on the fan base and the organization — he’s this generation’s Clark in that respect, and that will most likely get his number retired one day. But would Lincecum, who seems to greatly value his privacy, even want the honor and the ceremony that comes with it? The Giants will surely abide by his wishes, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve it.

Almost, But Probably Not Quite There


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Brandon Crawford, #35: The greatest shortstop in Giants history, a local kid who grew up rooting for the team and has a rather famous photo showing those roots — Crawford is a great story, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that he’s not quite at the level of jersey retirement. He was never the centerpiece of any of the dynasty teams — a vitally important part of two of them, yes, but not the guy you thought would carry the Giants on his back. His defense was incredible, as was his longevity, and if the organization decides to really go all-out in remembering the championship years, he’s likely the next guy to make the cut. But it feels like he’ll be a Wall of Fame guy.

Matt Cain, #18: Cain is a tough one, because for a while there he was neck-and-neck with Lincecum as far as importance to the team, and before his career was cut short by injuries it looked as though he’d be a rotation centerpiece well into his late 30s. His stats don’t jump off the page, but Giants fans know they’d be noticeably better if he had any kind of run support throughout his career. That may be reason enough to retire his number — to finally give him the support he lacked. But unlike with Posey, Bumgarner or Lincecum’s number, the Giants have already given out Cain’s No. 18 again. That’s why it looks like the Wall of Fame is probably as far as he’ll go.

Wall of Fame Only, and That’s Okay

Everyone Else: From the Core Four (Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo), to Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and a host of others who contributed to the most successful run in San Francisco Giants history, the Wall of Fame awaits. Some are already there, and some are sure to be added in the coming years, assuming the Giants change their nonsensical criteria. (Currently, Giants had to have played nine seasons with the team or five seasons with an All-Star selection to make it, which would disqualify guys like Casilla and Lopez. Adding a simple “won a World Series with the Giants” qualifier is the easy fix.)


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