SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn’t until the last couple of months that Nick Hundley got an everyday role with the Giants, but his presence has been felt since pitchers and catchers reported in early February.
Hundley, a veteran catcher in his first year with the Giants, is a clubhouse favorite, and on Friday he was voted the 2017 winner of the Willie Mac Award. The award is given annually to the player deemed most inspirational, and it is voted on by players, coaches, training staff, fans, and Willie McCovey.
“It’s pretty overwhelming to be standing here with Giants legends and be mentioned in the same company as Willie McCovey,” Hundley said. “To be mentioned in this company is incredible. I’d like to thank these guys, this coaching staff, the trainers, and everybody who has been grinding it out this year. The fans, too, we know it hasn’t been the best record-wise but you guys have been standing with us the entire year, so thank you very much.”
Hundley became the seventh catcher to win the award. The award has generally gone to everyday members of the lineup, or guys in the rotation, but Hundley made an impact as Buster Posey’s backup. He has nine homers and 23 doubles in 280 at-bats and has developed into a trusted partner for the team’s pitchers. Since Brandon Belt went down with a concussion in August, Hundley has been a right-handed weapon for manager Bruce Bochy.
The 34-year-old quickly became one of the leaders in the clubhouse, with a work ethic that has him ready to step in at any time. Earlier this month, he said it would be a disservice to Posey and the rest of his teammates if he did not go about his business as if he were a starter. Several teammates have gone out of their way late this season to compliment Hundley’s work in the clubhouse.
“He’s one of the best (teammates) I’ve ever had,” right-hander Jeff Samardzija said after Hundley hit a walk-off on Sept. 2.
Brandon Crawford and Javier Lopez shared last season’s award. The other active Giants who have won are Madison Bumgarner (2014), Hunter Pence (2013), Posey (2012) and Matt Cain (2009).