He was the American League MVP in 2000 with the Oakland Athletics, and is a 5-time All-Star who has led the American League in walks 4 times, in on base percentage 3 times, in doubles and in slugging percentage once each, and won the Silver Slugger award twice.
Born in West Covina, California, Giambi attended Sierra Vista Middle School in West Covina, California.
He then attended South Hills High School, where he was a 3-sport standout. Jason was on the baseball team, whose roster also included his brother Jeremy Giambi, along with pitchers Cory Lidle and Aaron Small. He batted .386 during his 3 years of varsity baseball, leading his team to the state finals as a senior. He was voted MVP in both and baseball and basketball. In football, he was an All-League quarterback.
Giambi went on to play collegiately at Long Beach State University. Giambi also was a stand-out player on the USA baseball team.
Giambi was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 2nd round in 1992.
Oakland Athletics (1995-2001)
Giambi made his major league debut in 1995 with the Oakland Athletics. The team called him up as he was hitting .342 with a .444 obp in Triple-A. Originally used occasionally as an outfielder, third baseman, and first baseman, he assumed the full-time first base job upon the trade of Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997.
He had a sensational 2000 season. He led the league in on base percentage (.476; leading the majors) and walks (137; a personal high, and still the highest most walks in the AL since 1991). He hit .333 (7th in the league) with 43 homers (2nd; a career high), 137 RBI (4th; a career high), 108 runs (10th), and a 647 slugging percentage (3rd). Giambi narrowly won the American League MVP award over Frank Thomas.
His 2001 season was nearly identical. He led the league for the second year in a row in both on base percentage (.477; a career best, and still the highest OBP in the AL since 1995) and walks (129). He also led the league in slugging percentage (.660; a career best), doubles (47; a career high), times on base (320), and extra base hits (87). He batted .342 (2nd in the American League; a career high) with 38 homers (7th), 109 runs (6th), and 120 RBI (8th). He was second in the league in intentional walks (24), the only time in his career that he was in the top 10 in this category. He finished a close second in MVP voting to rookie Ichiro Suzuki, and won the Silver Slugger award.
New York Yankees (2001-current)
Giambi signed a 7-year $120-million deal with the perennially contending New York Yankees. This upset many Athletics fans, who felt betrayed by the departure of their team leader. Giambi remains an object of the A's fans' wrath whenever New York visits Oakland. During a game on May 14, 2005, he was hit with a beer thrown by an unruly fan on his way back to the dugout . New York fans, however, having seen their team pass on Manny Ramírez the previous off-season, were excited to add a top hitter to their offense, which was anemic throughout the 2001 post-season.
Giambi continued his slugging ways with New York in 2002. He led the league for the second consecutive year in times on base (300), had 109 walks (2nd), was third in the league with both a .435 obp (3rd in the league) and 15 HBP, had 41 home runs )4th), 120 runs (4th; a career high), and a .598 slugging percentage (4th), knocking in 122 runs (5th), and batted .314 (6th). He came in 5th in AL MVP voting, and again won the Silver Slugger award. He also hit an "ultimate grand slam" -- a walk off grand slam against the Twins, that won that game 9-8.
Although his average dipped to .250 in 2003, he led the league in walks for the 3rd time in his career (129) and in HBP (21), maintained an extremely high on-base percentage (.412; 3rd in the league), and remained one of the most patient hitters in the majors. He hit 41 home runs (4th), and had 107 RBI (8th). At the same time, he also led the league in strikeouts, with 140, the only season that he has even been in the top 10 in the league in that category.
Towards the middle of the 2005 season, Giambi saw a resurgence in his career. On July 31 he hit his 300th career home run off of Esteban Yan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This was his 14th home run of the month, tying Mickey Mantle for the Yankee record for home runs in July (Mantle hit 14 in 1961). Giambi ended the 2005 season leading the American league in walks for the fourth time in his career (109), and in OBP for the third time in his career (.440; second in MLB to Todd Helton), and had an OPS of .975, placing him fifth in the AL. He hit 32 homers (10th in the league), the 7th time in his career in which he has hit 30 or more, and was 4th in HBP (19) and at-bats per home run (13.0). Giambi was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Giambi started the 2006 season very strong, and was named the American League Player of the Month for April, hitting .344 with 9 home runs and driving in 27 runs (RBI). However, Giambi was left off the 2006 American League All-Star roster.
Late in 2003 he was named by FBI officers investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) as being one of the baseball players believed to have received anabolic steroids from trainer Greg Anderson .
On December 1, 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that it had seen Giambi's 2003 grand jury testimony in the BALCO investigation. They allege that in his testimony, he admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003, and had injected himself with growth hormone|human growth hormone during the 2003 season. On December 2, 2004, the paper ran a front page story alleging that Giambi had injected human growth hormone. Giambi publicly apologized to the media and his fans although he did not specifically state what for. Most likely because he feared that if he had outright admitted to using steroids, he would have been released from the Yankees and banished from baseball.
Giambi is the older brother of former major leaguer Jeremy Giambi, who has admitted to using steroids during his career.
While it is unlikely given his connection to the BALCO scandal, due to Giambi's recent resurgence and increased power numbers, media speculation continues regarding his possible continued use of performance enhancing substances; however, the speculation is not nearly as severe as players such as Bonds or McGwire.
Giambi was also mentioned in the Mitchell Report. It was said that he was implicated in the BALCO scandal. In 2002, Greg Anderson, Jason Giambi's personal trainer, arranged a blood test for Giambi in which the player tested positive for Deca-Durabolin. Anderson warned Giambi to stop using that substance because it remains detectable long after use. He suggested an alternative regimen of performance-enhancing drugs that, if followed, would never be detected by the MLB's tests, which were to begin in 2003.
- Selected by Milwaukee Brewers in the 43rd round of the free-agent draft - did not sign (June 5, 1989).
- Selected by Oakland Athletics in the 2nd round of the free-agent draft (June 1, 1992 - signed July 3, 1992).
- Granted free agency (November 5, 2001).
- Signed by New York Yankees (December 13, 2001).
- Yankees broadcaster John Sterling nicknamed Giambi "The Giambino," a reference to the Bambino, Babe Ruth.
- When Giambi entered the league he came under the wing of Mark McGwire, whom he credits for greatly improving his career.
- Upon signing as a free agent with the New York Yankees Giambi had to choose a number. Since Whitey Ford's 16 was retired, he took McGwire's number 25.
- Giambi's father was also a big Mickey Mantle fan, and all of Giambi's numbers are 7 or add up to 7 (e.g., 16, 25, etc.). His brother Jeremy, who follows the same patterns with his numbers, wore number 7 as a member of the A's, so Jason had to settle for 16.
- WFAN personality Steve Somers has nicknamed him "The Sultan of Shot," due to the steroids controversy.
- He is the brother of Jeremy Giambi.
- Giambi comes out to the nWo Wolfpac theme song for his first at bat at Yankee Stadium.
- He also appeared in the Backyard Sports series Backyard Baseball 2003.
- Giambi appears in the ESPN television series The Bronx is Burning in a cameo appearance as a cab driver.