San Francisco Giants: Nick Hundley Wins 2017 Willie Mac Award


Catcher Nick Hundley has won the 2017 Willie Mac Award, given to the most inspirational player among the San Francisco Giants.

The Willie Mac Award, named after baseball Hall of Famer and San Francisco Giants’ legend Willie McCovey is given annually to the team’s most inspirational player, and is an extremely prestigious honor. On Friday, ahead of the Giants’ final series of the season, Nick Hundley was named the 2017 Willie Mac Award winner.

Hundley, a 34-year-old catcher, is in his 10th major league season, but his first with the Giants. Through 99 games played, Hundley owns a .246/.276/.425 slash-line along with a career-high 23 doubles, nine home runs, and 34 runs batted in. He leads the team with four home runs at AT&T Park as a right-handed hitter.

More from Golden Gate Sports

The Giants have eight walkoff wins this season, and Hundley has come up with the game-ending hit twice. The first was a single off the left field wall on July 22nd against the San Diego Padres, and the second was an opposite field home run on September 2nd against the St. Louis Cardinals.

While he has been a rather steady presence in the lineup, he has made great strides defensively this season. Coming off a year in which he threw out only 14 percent of potential base-stealers, he has raised that number to 30 percent, above the league average of 27.

He has made strong contributions on the field, but maybe his biggest contribution has been in the clubhouse. Hundley has consistently been called a positive and upbeat presence off the field, and not enough can be said about players like that, especially during a season like the Giants are experiencing.

Hundley was signed to a one-year contract this past offseason, and his job was not an easy one. He was signed to be the understudy to Buster Posey, the best catcher in the game, but the two have combined to form one of the most potent catcher duos in baseball. The Giants’ catcher crew leads baseball in average (.293), hits (177), and doubles (45), and are in the top-five in on-base percentage (.358) and slugging percentage (.462)

Hundley becomes the 37th different Giant to win the award, and the seventh different catcher. He joins Posey (2012), Bengie Molina (2007 and 2008), Mike Matheny (2005), Benito Santiago (co-winner in 2001), Kirt Manwaring (1993), and Bob Brenly (1984).

Though there have been plenty of catchers before Hundley to win, he becomes the first to win it while not being the team’s primary catcher. Hundley is in the starting lineup behind the plate on Friday, making his 64th start of the season. None of the other catchers to win started fewer than 110 games at the position (Posey started 111 games in 2012, the lowest total in the group before Hundley).

Hundley’s future with the team in unknown. He signed a one-year deal this past offseason to join the Giants as Posey’s backup, but after a strong performance he is sure to garner more interest this coming offseason.

Next: Adrianza Making Most of Opportunity

If he doesn’t return, he would become only the second player to win the Willie Mac Award in his only season with the Giants, joining David Bell who won it in 2002. Shawon Dunston won the award in 1996 during a one-year stint with the team, but returned for two more stints later in his career.