The Padres currently have 14 people in their team Hall of Fame, including eight former players of the San Diego Padres organization. Adrián González deserves to be one of them.
Obviously, the some of the best and brightest people to be associated with the franchise have been inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. No one has been inducted since the late Kevin Towers, one of the team’s best executives ever, back in 2018, who was elected posthumously following his unfortunate death on January 30, 2018.
Seven people were inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame between 2014 and 2018, but it has been quiet since. This begs the question, who is next to be enshrined at Petco Park?
Jake Peavy and a former All-Star first baseman come to mind.
Adrian González grew up in Tijuana, Baja, California, as well as Bonita, California, and attended Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, less than 20 miles from Petco Park. The Florida Marlins drafted him No. 1 overall in the 2000 MLB June Amateur Draft.
After being moved to the Texas Rangers’ organization in 2003, he broke into the big leagues with Texas in 2004. Before accruing 60 big league games, he was part of an influential trade that sent him towering starting pitcher Chris Young and Terrmel Sledge to the Padres in exchange for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka, and Billy Killian ahead of the 2006 season. The Friars immediately plugged him in as their starting first baseman after they parted with slugger Phil Nevin during the previous year.
The Eastlake alum blossomed thanks to an unhindered chance at playing time. He turned in a solid opening season with San Diego in 2006, batting .304 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, a 127 OPS+, and 3.0 WAR. That was just the beginning.
From 2007 to 2010, he boasted four straight seasons of at least 30 homers and 99 RBI. He earned his first career All-Star bid in 2008 and finished that season with 36 home runs, 119 RBI, and a 140 OPS+. In 2009, he became just the fourth Friar ever to reach 40 home runs. He also led the majors with 119 walks, flexing his keen eye at the plate, which buoyed his .407 on-base percentage and stellar .958 OPS. He also set a career-high that season with 6.9 WAR, ranking fifth among National League hitters and fourth in Padres history. His 162 OPS+ that season ranks seventh in Padres history.
The lefty slugger played a vital role in the 2006 National League West Division championship, as well as winning seasons in 2007 and 2010. He even hit .357 during the 2006 NLDS against the Cardinals.
He didn’t just do it with his bat, as he also earned back-to-back Gold Gloves in 2008 and 2009, one of just seven Padres to win consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
In his final season in San Diego, 2010, the Padres surprised many with their 90-72 record. Gonzalez was in peak form, with 31 home runs, 33 doubles, 101 RBI, .298 average, .904 OPS, and 152 OPS+. He earned a fourth-place finish in MVP voting for his efforts, becoming the first Padre since Greg Vaughn in 1998 to be in the top four in MVP votes.
It is rare for a local product to become a star for his local big league team. Before being traded to the Boston Red Sox ahead of the 2011 season, González rose to stardom in his hometown.
He finished his Padres career with 161 home runs, just two shy of Nate Colbert’s franchise mark. González also ranks third in franchise history in WAR by hitters, OPS, OPS+ and Runs Created as well as fourth in RBI. Clearly, he was a top four hitter in franchise history. Should that garner him an induction into the team’s Hall of Fame?
There are some who may be hesitant to induct him based on his six seasons with the Dodgers, where he personally tortured the Friars along with an All-Star selection in Dodger blue in 2015.
A tenure with the Dodgers certainly didn’t stop the Padres from retiring Steve Garvey’s number. González’s numbers in San Diego dwarfs those of Garvey’s as a Padre.
Let’s start by comparing him to those already enshrined in San Diego. There are six position players in San Diego’s Hall of Fame. Here is where Gonzalez stacks up among those players in various statistics during their respective careers for the Padres.
Clearly, González is right in the same company as the other hitters in the Padres Hall of Fame. He belongs. When would his induction take place? Trevor Hoffman was inducted in 2014, four years after his career ended. González last played in the majors in 2018. While this is not an urgent issue, when the conversation is had about who deserves to be inducted next, González should be the easy answer, along with former ace Jake Peavy.
While they do not need to go as far as retiring number 23 quite yet, as the current number 23 in San Diego, Fernando Tatis Jr., may one day earn that prestigious honor, González did enough to be enshrined to the franchise’s Hall of Fame.
Along with his solid numbers, he made a huge impact in his local San Diego and Mexican communities. He and his wife Betsy founded The Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez Foundation, empowering underprivileged youths around San Diego. He also paid for the refurbishing of a youth baseball field in the Tijuana area, where he played in his younger days.
Plus, let’s be honest, there is a far better case for González’s inclusion in the Padres Hall of Fame than one for retiring Steve Garvey’s No. 6, who spent 14 seasons with the Dodgers. He deserves a place at Petco Park among in the greatest players to ever don a Padres uniform.