The Mount Rushmore of the San Diego Padres

1978 O-Pee-Chee #78 Dave Winfield - I love this card. All the yellow, oranges, and browns look great, and the retro uniform and font are great.

Here’s a bit of history about the Padres. In their first season in 1969, they lost a whopping 110 games. They finished last in the NL West every year for their first 6 seasons until finally finishing 4th in 1975.  Over the next 8 seasons, they moved around from 4th to 6th. Then, all of a sudden, in 1984, they vaulted to 1st place and made it to the World Series. The following year, they put up their first 3rd-place finish, but didn’t finally put up a 2nd-place finish until 1989 in their 21st season.

Anyway…let’s take a look at the best players this team has ever had.Here are the WAR leaders among batters:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Tony Gwynn 65.3 1982 2001
2 Dave Winfield 30.5 1973 1980
3 Gene Tenace 18.9 1977 1980
4 Adrian Gonzalez 18.6 2006 2010
5 Gene Richards 17.7 1977 1983
6 Ken Caminiti 16.7 1995 1998
7 Phil Nevin 16.4 1999 2005
8 Brian Giles 16.0 2003 2009
9 Nate Colbert 16.0 1969 1974
10 Terry Kennedy 15.5 1981 1986
11 Ryan Klesko 14.6 2000 2006
12 Benito Santiago 13.0 1986 1992
13 Roberto Alomar 11.7 1988 1990
14 Kevin McReynolds 11.5 1983 1986
15 Bip Roberts 11.4 1986 1995
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2012.

OK right off…even though Tony Gwynn was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, was he still underrated? His lead here is insane, especially since Dave Winfield is barely associated with the Padres by many people. The rest of the list is populated by players who were either great for the Padres in their pre-free-agency years and then went elsewhere, or good players who came to the Padres for the back half of their careers.

Think that list is bad? Check out the pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Trevor Hoffman 25.0 1993 2008
2 Jake Peavy 23.2 2002 2009
3 Andy Ashby 21.6 1993 2004
4 Andy Benes 19.4 1989 1995
5 Randy Jones 18.9 1973 1980
6 Greg Harris 15.1 1988 1993
7 Joey Hamilton 14.8 1994 1998
8 Ed Whitson 14.7 1983 1991
9 Eric Show 14.2 1981 1990
10 Bruce Hurst 14.0 1989 1993
11 Dave Dravecky 11.3 1982 1987
12 Dave Roberts 9.4 1969 1971
13 Clay Kirby 8.6 1969 1973
14 Kevin Brown 8.3 1998 1998
15 Mark Davis 8.1 1987 1994
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2012.

Wowsers. Trevor Hoffman…sure. Jake Peavy? Yeah, oh. Andy Ashby? Umm…

Notice that Kevin Brown makes the top 15 on the strength of a single spectacular season.

Special mention should be made of Ken Caminiti. Although his MVP season was a fluke (and probably steroid-fueled) he was a great player for this franchise. His post-season record was great, including 3 homers in the 1996 NLDS and 2 more in the 1998 NLCS.

Another guy who didn’t make the lists above is Steve Garvey. He played the equivalent of about 4 full seasons with the Padres and had an OPS+ of 100, but drove in 7 runs in the 1984 NLCS and 2 more in the 1984 World Series. He was an important star player on the team, even if he was past his prime.

Jim Leyritz put up 3 HR and 5 RBI in the 1998 NLDS and 4 more RBI in the 1998 NLCS.

Anyway…sort of some tough choices here. Please pick 4:

25 thoughts on “The Mount Rushmore of the San Diego Padres

  1. 1
    Phil says:

    Gwynn, Winfield, Hoffman, Jones; would rather have voted for Nate Colbert than Jones.

    • 8
      Hartvig says:

      Exactly how I voted as well.

      I say leave the 4th spot entirely up to Padres fans because besides Gwynn and Hoffman I don’t really know who is the biggest fan favorite here.

  2. 2
    rob says:

    San Diego chicken?

  3. 3
    Library Dave says:

    When I tried to come up with four before seeing the WAR rankings, I had both Garvey and Kevin Brown in my head (along with Gwynn and Winfield). Amazing what a few individual moments will do for a memory.

    how about Jack McKeon? Only 3 years as manager, but a solid decade as GM when he built that 1984 team.

  4. 4
    Steven says:

    Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Nate Colbert, Clay Kirby. Ed Spezio and Ivan Murrell just missed the final cut.

  5. 5
    Neil L. says:

    Garvey is the Joe Carter of the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers, is he not? The “star” everybody loves to hate in retrospect.

    Speaking of Joe Carter and the Padres in the same sentence ….. hmmm he arrived from Cleveland just in time to be traded.

  6. 6
    DaveR says:

    Gwynn, Hoffman, Winfield, and Mr. Padre, Randy Jones.

    I would have written in for Rollie Fingers and Gaylord Perry, but it would have been mostly for their uniforms.

  7. 7
    Kevin says:

    Kinda funny. The names that I expected to see there, were there, just not as highly ranked as I thought. I fugured Benes would be high, but Nevin?!? He was good, but not living up to exectations as a #1 pick always got him overlooked, to some degree. I expected Garry Templeton to be there in the rankings, since he was a star for them, not just the guy in the Ozzie Smith trade.

  8. 9
    birtelcom says:

    The Mets, like the Pods, didn’t finish in second until well into franchise history — 23rd season. Like San Diego, the Mets had many terrible seasons, a bunch of third places, and a big bounce right past second into first (in the Mets’ case twice into the World Series) before ever finishing second.

  9. 10
    Steven says:

    Ollie Brown was the Frank Thomas (1962 Met Frank Thomas) of the 1969 Padres. I didn’t realize his (Brown’s) career lasted as long as it did.

  10. 11
    Phil says:

    With expansion teams, I think one of the voting choices should be reserved for the player generally regarded as the franchise’s first star. With the Padres, that’s got to be Colbert. I seem to recall that his 111 RBI in ’72 for a team that only scored 488 runs was, in terms of percentage, a record at one point.

    • 12
      Jason Z says:

      I agree completely with your perception of Colbert. I have always been
      stunned by his 72 season.

      I think his record for RBI percentage may have been beaten by someone
      in the steroid fueled late 90’s, but who cares. I will always think
      of Colbert as this particular record holder.

      111 RBI’s for a team that scored 488 runs is just silly. He added 38 homers.

      Second on the team in both categories was Leron Lee (daddy of Derek),
      with 12 and 47. Not even in the same galaxy.

      In any event…Trevor Hoffman, Randy Jones, Dave winfield and Tony Gywnn.

      And a special nod to Nate Colbert for one of the more amamzing seasons in MLB history.

    • 13
      richard chester says:

      As of the end of the 2009 season Colbert was still the record holder, driving in 22.75% of his team’s runs. Second is Wally Berger of the 1935 Braves with 22.61% and third is Ernie Banks of the 1959 Cubs with 21.25%.

  11. 14
    tag says:

    I always loved that early SD outfield of Colbert, Cito Gaston and Downtown Ollie. Especially Ollie with his pregame warmup of standing near the wall in RF and gunning lasers to third. Three ballboys and the ghost of a Pony Express rider would relay the ball back to him and then he’d unleash another perfect peg to third.

    I think, given the absence of clear choices other than Gwynn and Hoffman (and perhaps Winfield), honoring the feats of those early ’70s Padres is the way to go. And the greatest of those feats, as mentioned above, has to do with RBI. But it’s both a positive/negative thing. Because in addition to Colbert’s stunning 1972, you have Enzo Hernandez’s epochal 1971, in which he drove in just 12 runs in 619 PAs. I don’t know if that’s the least RBI/PA ever in a season, and I don’t know how to search BR to find out, but I sure as heck hope so. And I posit that such a season is equally if not even more notable than Colbert’s, if for all the wrong reasons.

    So I think a Janus-type two-faced Rushmore entry is in order to honor both Nate and Enzo for the extremes to which you can go when you bat with your fellow Friars on base.

    • 15
      tag says:

      Sorry, I double-checked. It was only 618 PAs for Enzo. I always had it in mind that it was 619, but nonethless the point still stands.

    • 24
      Doug says:

      The only lower RBI per PA ratio (min. 200 PAs) was Dick Howser of the 1965 Indians with 6 RBI in 377 PA.

  12. 16
    Steven says:

    And the Padres would have been the first of the 1969 NL expansion teams to become the Washington Nationals (in 1974). Remember the baseball cards that already had them in Washington?

  13. 17
    Tmckelv says:

    The Card is awesome for all of the reasons you mentioned. Plus the sideburns and the Batting Helmet with no ear flap. I remember Dave was one of the last players with this since he grandfathered his flapless helmet after the rule was added to require ear the protection. It ensure that Dave would always lose his helmet while going first-to-third.

    Mount Padre – Gwynn, Winfield, Hoffman and Randy Jones

    Special nods for Clarence Gaston, Caminity, Beninto, Dravecky, Colbert (5 HR & 17 RBI in a double header) and Clay Kirby (who pitched for some horrible teams early on).

    • 20
      Jason Z says:

      Colbert actually had 13 RBI’s in that doubleheader on Aug. 1, 1972.

      From the circle of life category, Colbert as a child attended
      the doubleheader where Stan Musial knocked 5 homers and drove in 11.

      Records that Colbert would go on to tie and break respectively.

  14. 22
    brp says:

    I would have thought Santiago and Randy Jones would have done better in WAR. I picked Winfield & Santiago after the two obvious choices but this is one team where the fan favorites could take up the other two spots and it would be hard to argue.

    It might also be fun to see how many average fans could name 4 Padres on the active roster…

  15. 23
    Luis Gomez says:

    My picks are Gwynn, Hoffman, Winfield and Jerry Coleman. One of the thing about the Padres I can´t understand is why on earth is Garvey´s number retired. I do know why, I just don´t understand it.

  16. 25
    Paul E says:

    1) Gwynn
    2) Winfield
    3) Hoffman
    4) Ozzie

    Honorable Mention:
    Ken Caminiti for blowing the whistle on the “50%” who, through chemeical enhancement, turned ML baseball into a four – hour marathon

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