The Giants have seen plenty of newcomers make an impact right out of the gate over the years, though some have stood out more than others. From rookie sensations to marquee free-agent signings, here’s a look at the top five individual debut seasons for the club:
1) Barry Bonds, 1993
With a new ownership group in tow, the Giants made one of the biggest splashes in Winter Meetings history when they signed Bonds to a six-year, $43.75 million deal in December 1992. The signing proved to be a franchise-altering moment for San Francisco, as Bonds instantly helped turn a 98-loss team into a 103-win team in his first season by the Bay. The superstar slugger led the National League with 46 home runs and 123 RBIs and finished fourth in batting with a .336 average, earning the first of five NL Most Valuable Player Awards with the Giants.
2) Rogers Hornsby, 1927
The Hall of Fame second baseman spent only one season with the New York Giants, but he managed to leave quite an impression. Acquired from the Cardinals in exchange for second baseman Frankie Frisch and pitcher Jimmy Ring ahead of the 1927 season, Hornsby was worth 10.2 WAR in his one-year stint with the club, the most by an infielder in franchise history, according to Baseball Reference.
Hornsby ranked first in the NL in on-base percentage (.448), second in batting average (.361) and third in home runs (26), earning a third-place finish in NL MVP Award voting. Despite his production on the field, the famously difficult Hornsby quickly alienated Giants teammates and executives, prompting management to trade him to the Braves in 1928.
3) Willie Mays, 1951
Mays began his professional baseball career at age 16 with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and eventually caught the eye of the New York Giants, who purchased his contract in 1950. He reached the Majors the following year, but he endured a slow start as a 20-year-old rookie, going hitless in his first 12 at-bats before finally breaking through with a home run off Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. The "Say Hey Kid" never looked back, batting .274 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs over 121 games to win NL Rookie of the Year honors.
4) Orlando Cepeda, 1958
A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Cepeda received a $500 bonus after signing with the Giants as an amateur free agent in 1955. Three years later, he broke into the Majors and emerged as a 20-year-old sensation for the Giants, who were playing their inaugural season in San Francisco. The Hall of Fame first baseman quickly endeared himself to fans on the West Coast, unanimously winning the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year Award after batting .312 with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs over 148 games.
5) Willie McCovey, 1959
One year after Cepeda burst onto the scene, the Giants witnessed the arrival of yet another young hitting phenom in McCovey, who forced his way onto the Major League roster after batting .372 with 29 homers and 92 RBIs over 95 games at Triple-A Phoenix. The lanky 21-year-old from Mobile, Ala., debuted with the Giants on July 30, 1959, when he went 4-for-4 with two triples against Phillies ace and future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. It was a sign of things to come, as McCovey batted .354 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs over 52 games to unanimously capture the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Honorable mentions: Robb Nen (1998), Kevin Mitchell ('87), Will Clark ('86)