An analytical anthology on the history of San Diego Padres’ hitters

Credit: Sporting News

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The history of hitters from the San Diego Padres. 

The San Diego Padres organization has had some highly skilled, Hall of Fame level offensive players in franchise history.

Some names that come to mind include Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, and Ozzie Smith. There have also been hitters that, while not in the same tier, were still elite and productive for the franchise, including Adrian Gonzalez, Garry Templeton, and Phil Nevin.

With that in mind, this article attempts to compile an anthology of Padres hitting that focuses on the elite and most accomplished position players that have played for the team and have been highly productive over varying periods. Consider it a continuation from the pitchers’ anthology. The criteria that will be used to construct this anthology are:

  1. Longevity
  2. Accolades
  3. General Statistics
  4. Advanced Analytics

Like the pitcher’s anthology, not all hitters in franchise history will be included. Only those who are the most accomplished in their time with the Padres will be discussed. A small asterisk to this anthology is that some hitters have played in different decades and have had multiple stints with the team.

Cito Gaston (1969-1974): While he is known more for his managerial career in Toronto, where he won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, Gaston became a standout player early on in his Padre career. Selected to the All-Star game in 1970, Gaston set several career highs that year, including OPS (.907) and OPS+ (146). Amongst outfielders with a minimum of 600 plate appearances that season, he finished second in BABIP (.378), fifth in both wRC+ (144) and wOBA (.399).

Nate Colbert (1969-1974): The franchise’s all-time leader in home runs (163), Nate Colbert became an accomplished player in his Padres tenure. A three-time All-Star (1971-1973) with San Diego, he is an underrated offensive player in the 1970s. Amongst first basemen from 1969 to 1974, Colbert finished in the Top-15 in both SLG% (.469) and wRC+ (124).

Dave Winfield (1973-1980): One of the many Hall of Famers that played for the Padres, Dave Winfield is one of the premier outfielders in Major league history. Garnering four All-Star selections (1977-1980) and two Gold Glove awards (1979, 1980), Winfield’s most productive season in a Padres uniform came in 1979, where he finished third in the NL MVP voting, and led the league in OPS+ (166) and total bases (333). In comparing his time in San Diego to other right fielders from 1973 to 1980, Winfield tied for ninth in wRC (647) and tied for fifth in wRC+ (131).

Credit: AP Photo

Gene Tenace (1977-1980): Known as an on-base machine in his playing career, Tenace is the franchise’s all-time leader in OBP% (.403). He is also seventh in OPS (.825), and third in Adjusted OPS+ (136), reflecting his power-hitting abilities to complement his skillsets in reaching base. In his Padres career, his career SO/BB ratio of 0.91 is highly impressive. To start his Padres career, Tenace led the league in walks in 1977 (125) while posting a .824 OPS.

Ozzie Smith (1978-1981): Starting his Hall of Fame career in San Diego, Smith is tied for first for the franchise lead in sacrifice hits (83) and led the league in this category twice (1978, 1980). While in a Padres uniform, he garnered an All-Star selection in 1981 and collected two Gold Glove awards (1980, 1981). Most known for his defensive prowess at the shortstop position, Smith is second in franchise history in Defensive WAR (9.1) and a Range Factor per Game (RF/G) of 5.45. Smith is also a part of 369 double plays from 1978 to 1981, which ranks fourth amongst shortstops during this time.

Terry Kennedy (1981-1986): Arriving in San Diego via trade from St. Louis, Kennedy is known as a highly productive offensive player with the organization. A member of the 1984 World Series team, he went to three All-Star games (1981, 1983, 1985) and collected a Silver Slugger award (1983) as a Padre. Kennedy is also quite the underrated offensive player at his position. Relative to other catchers from 1981 to 1986, he ranks second in BABIP (.305) and is tied for fifth in wRC (366).

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Nicholas Fichtner
Nicholas Fichtner is a baseball analyst and researcher, and Founder and Editor of The Launch Angle. His previous experience includes working as a Quantitative Analyst with the Northeastern University Huskies baseball program for the 2019 season. While in this role, he worked closely with the coaching staff in developing an analytics department that assisted in impacting overall strategy and player evaluation using advanced data analysis and metrics.

Before Northeastern, Fichtner served in previous roles with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League as an Assistant General Manager consulting on in-game strategy, roster management, and quantitative based player development, and as a Student Director of Analytics with his alma mater, Endicott College and their baseball program. His Thesis, entitled "Free Market Navigation in Major League Baseball," details the development of a highly sophisticated model that accurately predicts free agent player salaries based on various quantitative variables. He currently resides in Beverly, Massachusetts.

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Nicholas Fichtner
Nicholas Fichtner is a baseball analyst and researcher, and Founder and Editor of The Launch Angle. His previous experience includes working as a Quantitative Analyst with the Northeastern University Huskies baseball program for the 2019 season. While in this role, he worked closely with the coaching staff in developing an analytics department that assisted in impacting overall strategy and player evaluation using advanced data analysis and metrics.

Before Northeastern, Fichtner served in previous roles with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League as an Assistant General Manager consulting on in-game strategy, roster management, and quantitative based player development, and as a Student Director of Analytics with his alma mater, Endicott College and their baseball program. His Thesis, entitled "Free Market Navigation in Major League Baseball," details the development of a highly sophisticated model that accurately predicts free agent player salaries based on various quantitative variables. He currently resides in Beverly, Massachusetts.