A position by position comparison of the 1998 Padres to the current team

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Left Field

The Contestants: 1998’s Greg Vaughn and 2021’s Tommy Pham

1998 Greg Vaughn

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

661

573

112

156

.272

50

119

11

N/A

.363

.597

.960

156

2021 Tommy Pham (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

531

461

71

119

.258

16

60

22

1

.352

.416

N/A

109

In case it wasn’t remembered, Greg Vaughn was a monster Major League outfielder for San Diego.  His massive 1998 season was one of the all-timers in San Diego franchise history.  The addition of this former Brewer was the piece that arguably put the Padres in their second-ever World Series.  His 156 OPS+ clearly wins the spot for the 1998 crew, and his 50 homer season is amazing when you consider the power hitters who’ve played in San Diego since and haven’t scratched out nearly that many round-trippers.  

Tommy Pham is a great player, and his projected OPS+ is 109.  He will likely follow the arc of his career and overachieve in 2021, but he never had a chance here.  Tie ball game.

2021 Padres 3, 1998 Padres 3

Centerfield 

The Contestants: 1998’s Steve Finley and 2021’s Trent Grisham

1998 Steve Finley

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

674

619

92

154

.249

14

67

12

N/A

.301

.401

.702

90

2021 Trent Grisham (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

598

508

82

122

.240

21

73

16

6

.346

.433

N/A

111

Frankly, Steve Finley was a stud.  So, it comes as a bit of a surprise to realize his OPS+ was a mere 90 over 610 at-bats.  His OBP barely bested .300, and he didn’t hit .250.  A National League pennant winner has nothing for which to apologize.  But, in our war, this battle will be won by the 2021 youngster. 

Trent Grisham does give the lead back to the 2021 projected Padres, as his projection puts him at 111 in OPS+.  Grisham, a Gold-Glove winner in 2020, is projected to garner over 100 fewer at-bats, yet he’s projected to hit far more homers, steal more bags, and get on base at a much higher rate.  With only right field left in our starting everyday player competition, 2021 leads 1998.  I wonder if #19 would be worried.

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 3

Right Field  

The Contestants: 1998’s Tony Gwynn and 2021’s Wil Myers

1998 Tony Gwynn

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

505 

461

65

148

.321

16

69

3

N/A

.364

.501

.865

133

2021 Wil Myers (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

511

458

65

114

.249

25

84

12

-1

.323

.480

N/A

115

Could one expect the great Hall of Famer to fail to tie this up?  Tony Gwynn is baseball in San Diego, at the very least through 2019, that is, and I doubt he could ever let down his 1998 squad.   With the bench and pitching staff left to decide which team was better in Padres history, Gwynn’s 1998 was really good, but for a player of his caliber, it was fairly average for him.  In fact, if we were to use last season’s numbers, 2020 Wil Myers blows 1998 Gwynn out of the water.  

Myers held a 159 OPS+ in 2020, dwarfing the Gwynn effort and besting even his two top-four finishing MVP candidate teammates.  Many people would find that to be blasphemy, but it is nonetheless true.  Wil Myers crushed it in 2020.  If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s time people give Wil the credit he deserves.  His presence and performance in the bottom half of the lineup last season was legendary.  

However, for our purposes, Fangraphs is again not that high on an offensive season in 2021 for a Padres regular.  Wil’s follow-up season projection falls short of #19, and though Gwynn had better seasons, this one was another signature clutch hit.  All tied up again.

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 4

Bench #1

The Contestants: 1998’s Jim Leyritz and 2021’s Jake Cronenworth

1998 Jim Leyritz

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

172

143

17

38

.266

4

18

0

N/A

.384

.420

.803

119

2021 Jake Cronenworth (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

500

449

61

118

.263

8

48

11

2

.332

.392

N/A

97

Jim Leyritz did things like this hit in the postseason, and his value cannot be overstated for the 1998 season.  Leyritz had his own contributions for Yankees postseason championships as well.  He factored in as a strong receiver on more than one occasion.  His numbers were strong with a .384 OBP in 1998, and he holds the highest non-starting OPS+, so he is Bench #1.

Jake Cronenworth had a tremendous impact on the 2020 Padres, and many of his efforts show up in this video.  Without his contributions to the 2020 season, it would have been difficult to see San Diego put together their highest winning percentage in organizational history.  Fangraphs continues to project depressed outputs for Padres regulars, and the dropoff here is significant, but he holds the highest non-starting OPS+ for his team, so he represents their Bench #1.

Cronenworth carries Rookie of the Year credentials. However, Leyritz takes this head-to-head and gives the 1998 Padres a lead. 

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 5

Bench #2  

The Contestants: 1998’s John Vander Wal and 2021’s Victor Caratini

1998 John Vander Wal

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

31

25

3

6

.240

0

0

0

N/A

.387

.360

.747

106

2021 Victor Caratini (Fangraphs Projection with Chicago)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

366

324

38

83

.256

8

45

0

-1

.333

.389

N/A

89

This is one of the more questionable matchups.  John Vander Wal had an impressive season.  This article can be viewed, and his contributions were necessary for the 1998 team to be in its second World Series.  Maybe he’s not a 1998 statistic to include due to his limited time with the team, but he has the next highest non-regular OPS+.  He deserves inclusion on the team as one of its postseason key contributors. 

Victor Caratini is a great bench option and a needed one behind the plate.  Not only does he serve as Darvish’s battery mate, but he’s more than capable of a strong offensive performance with switch-hitting capability.  However, his projections from his time in Chicago only measure 89 OPS+, the second-highest non-regular for the 2021 team.  

Victor is unable to get the victory here.  The 1998 Padres take a 2 player lead. 

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 6

Bench #3

The Contestants: 1998’s Andy Sheets and 2021’s Luis Campusano

1998 Andy Sheets

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

219

194

31

47

.242

7

29

7

N/A

.318

.407

.725

96

2021 Luis Campusano (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

455

410

54

101

.246

10

62

0

-2

.310

.383

N/A

88

Andy Sheets performed brilliantly in a bench role in 1998 on many occasions for San Diego.  Sheets could hit an occasional homer and steal an occasional bag, providing quality innings in support.  He could play in multiple positions, and he produced with his 200+ plate appearances.

Luis Campusano’s biggest plate appearance in 2020, one of precious few, yielded an opposite-field home run that displayed his immense power, skill, and plate coverage.  Campusano is projected to get significant playing time, potentially accruing well over 400 plate appearances, according to the Fangraphs simulation.  There are hurdles to overcome now, but if Campusano can compete in brown and gold, he could be a difference-maker.

In terms of OPS+, however, Sheets takes the cake here, and the 1998 Padres extend their player lead to 3, having swept the first three non-regulars’ spots in OPS+.

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 7

Bench #4

The Contestants: 1998’s Ruben Rivera  and 2021’s Nick Tanielu

1998 Ruben Rivera

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

204

172

31

36

.209

6

29

5

N/A

.325

.378

.703

91

2021 Nick Tanielu (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

498

463

55

115

.248

13

60

3

2

.294

.400

N/A

87

Ruben Rivera was an outfield bench piece for the 1998 team, and he seemingly held the potential to do many great things going forward.  His contributions to the 1998 squad were modest but important, and like Sheets, he was a player capable of hitting a homer and stealing a bag if needed.  Those types of players always have a place on a winning team.

Jorge Mateo is not the player represented here may tell what is necessary about his OPS+ (66).  In fact, Fangraphs projects a much better performance from a relative unknown, Nick Tanielu, who has spent time in the Astros organization.  In November of 2020, Fangraphs projected a huge potential contribution, including almost 500 plate appearances.  With Kim’s addition, it would be interesting to see the updated version, but clearly, he is ahead of Mateo in their view, if not the view of the Padres.

Regardless, Rivera’s OPS+ season takes the W for his 1998 team, who now doubles the 2021 squad position by position with one more bench spot to go.

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 8

Bench #5

The Contestants: 1998’s Greg Myers and 2021’s Jorge Ona

1998 Greg Myers

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

189

171

19

42

.246

4

20

0

N/A

.312

.374

.686

87

2021 Jorge Ona (Fangraphs Projection)

PA

AB

Runs

Hits

Ave

HR

RBIs

SB

Def

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

356

320

38

65

.203

9

38

1

-3

.278

.334

N/A

66

Greg Myers brought value in a smooth left-handed swing from a backup or platoon catching scenario throughout his career, and he had a nice bench performance in 1998.  He was yet another role player who seemed to come up huge when called upon.  One who knows the 1998 Padres well might expect a name like Mark Sweeney, Archi Cianfrocco, or maybe even Ed Giovanola instead.  But Myers gets the nod with a higher OPS+ as has been the criteria throughout.

Jorge Ona’s first hit in Major League Baseball was a bomb, and his potential oozes when watching that hit.  He wasn’t even on time for that one.  But, Fangraphs doesn’t project a great 2021 for Ona, saying he’ll settle in for an OPS+ of 66.

The final reserve spot gives a clean sweep victory to the 1998 Padres bench, who now sit with a 9-4 lead after all of the position players have been measured head-to-head.  

2021 Padres 4, 1998 Padres 9

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M. Robert Klemesrud
M. Robert Klemesrud, born and currently residing in the great state of Iowa, is an educator of 25 years. Having studied journalism at the University of Iowa, played baseball in the Missouri Valley, and followed the Padres religiously for over 30 years, he has found the perfect place to align some of his passions at East Village Times.

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Total Views: 462 ,
(Visited 1,479 times, 1 visits today)
M. Robert Klemesrud
M. Robert Klemesrud, born and currently residing in the great state of Iowa, is an educator of 25 years. Having studied journalism at the University of Iowa, played baseball in the Missouri Valley, and followed the Padres religiously for over 30 years, he has found the perfect place to align some of his passions at East Village Times.