A Hall of Fame for Jake Peavy

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On Wednesday, March 22,  pitcher Jake Peavy and owner John Moores became the 18th and 19thinductees in the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.

For Peavy, the award must be bittersweet. The Padres (and John Moores) traded him in his prime, and his chance of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame has come and gone. He will not join the three Padre players—Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, and Trevor Hoffman—who have received the coveted award.

The Padres drafted the young pitcher out of an Alabama high school in 1999. The same year, Peavy had been chosen as the player of the year for the entire state. So instead of attending Auburn University, he traveled across the country to San Diego, where he began his pro career in the Arizona League.

Peavy moved quickly up the ranks and reached the big leagues on June 22, 2002. In his first start, he gave up one run on three hits, with four strikeouts in six innings against the New York Yankees at Qualcomm Stadium. Overall he won six and lost seven games, which amounted to an ERA of 4.52 with 90 strikeouts. In his second year, the Padres ended the season last in the National League West with a record of 64-98. Peavy won twelve of those games in 32 starts with 156 strikeouts and a slightly improved ERA of 4.11

The following year the 6’1” right-hander found his groove. He became the ace of the staff and one of the best pitchers in the game with a record of 15-6, 2.27 ERA, and 173 strikeouts in 166 innings. Peavy also had the honor of being the youngest player since Dwight Gooden to win the ERA title.

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Padre fans loved his approach to the game. He pitched with passion and left it all on the field. In March 2005, the Padres rewarded him with a $14.5 million, four-year contract. He also played in his first All-Star game.

From 2002-2009 Peavy was the unchallenged ace of the staff. Obviously, general manager Kevin Towers planned on keeping his best pitcher and fan favorite. However, marital strife between Padres owners Becky and John Moores led to a dismantling of the team, including Jake Peavy. The trade to the Chicago White Sox in August 2009 caught Peavy (and Padres fans) by surprise.

“I was sleeping at 12:20 p.m. this afternoon with my middle son Wyatt”. Peavy told Darren Smith of the Mighty 1090. “I did not think it was going to happen. This thing happened in around 40 minutes.”

Personally, I remember that date and that shocking and moving interview. Who says, “there’s no crying in baseball.”

The Padres had to shed more than $55 million. Obviously, Peavy’s salary ($52 million from 2010 to 2012) had to go.

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In return, San Diego received Clayton Richard, Adam Russell, Dexter Carter, and Aaron Poreda. Of the four, only one, Clayton Richard, had any impact on the Padres. He pitched in San Diego for eight years and had an overall record of 56-68 and an ERA of .451. In two years in San Diego, Russell had a record of 3-1 in 27 games. Carter’s career ended in AA in 2012. In one year with the Padres, Poreda had a win-loss of 0-0 in 2.1 innings.

Peavy went on to win World Series championships in 2013 and 2014, the Cy Young award in 2007, Triple Crown in 2007, National League ERA Championship in 2004 and 2007, NL Strikeout championship in 2005 and 2007, and Gold Glove in 2012. Peavy was an NL All-Star in 2005, 2007, and 2012  and  American League All-Star in 2012. He is the only pitcher in Major League history to win back-to-back World Series titles in both the National and the American leagues. Over his 15-year career, Peavy won 152 games and lost 126 with an ERA of 3,63, ERA+110, and WHIP of 1,196.

It’s ironic that Jake Peavy and John Moors, the man responsible for trading him, would share the Hall-of-Fame honor this year. But the former Padre ace does not carry a grudge.

“This honor means more to me than I’ll ever be able to put into words,” Peavy said in a club statement. “The San Diego Padres feel like home.  This organization developed me professionally and helped mold me personally.  When I was drafted by the Padres at 18 years old, I never could have imagined that some 20 years later, we’d be here. I’m so proud to be a Padre for life!”

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