An analytical anthology on the history of San Diego Padres’ hitters
Tony Gwynn (1982-2001): Also known as “Mr. Padre,” Tony Gwynn is the definitive face of the San Diego Padres and is one of the greatest hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. Playing his entire 20-year career in San Diego, Gwynn leads the franchise in several offensive categories, including batting average (.338), runs created (1,636), and adjusted batting runs (438). A member of two World Series teams (1984, 1998), he collected several accolades in his career, including 15 All-Star selections (1984-1987, 1989-1999), five Gold Gloves (1986, 1987, 1989-1991), seven Silver Sluggers (1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1997), and eight batting titles (1984, 1987-1989, 1994-1997). He is tied for second all-time in batting title awards with Honus Wagner. Amongst his contemporaries in the outfield from 1982 to 2001, Tony Gwynn has the lowest strikeout rate (4.2%), third in wRC (1,582), and tied for third in BABIP (.341).
Garry Templeton (1982-1991): Acquired in a trade from St. Louis in 1981, a year after Terry Kennedy, Garry Templeton won a Silver Slugger award in 1984 and an All-Star selection in 1985. Templeton is the quintessential model of consistency as a player for the Padres in the 1980s. He was a part of the 1984 World Series team and is the franchise’s all-time leader in Defensive WAR (10.3) and had an RF/G of 4.52 between 1982 and 1990.
Benito Santiago (1986-1992): Spending the first seven years of his career with the Padres organization, Santiago became highly accomplished as player. In his time with San Diego, he won Rookie of the Year (1987), four All-Star selections (1989-1992), four Silver Slugger awards (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991), and three Gold Gloves (1988-1990). Finishing eighth amongst catchers from 1986 to 1992 in BABIP (.292), Santiago is also an underrated power hitter, finishing 14th amongst catchers in ISO (.142).
Fred McGriff (1991-1993): While it only lasted a short time, Fred McGriff’s tenure in a Padre uniform is dynamic. Selected to the All-Star game in 1992, McGriff led the NL in home runs that season (35) en route to his second Silver Slugger award. While his Padre career only lasted 388 games, he is the franchise’s all-time leader in Adjusted OPS+ (149) and Offensive Win% (.721).
Ken Caminiti (1995-1998): The only MVP winner in this anthology, Ken Caminiti at his apex, is a one-person offensive powerhouse at third base, and a member of the 1998 World Series squad. A two-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger recipient in a Padres uniform, Caminiti is the franchise leader in SLG% (0.540) and OPS (.924). Winning the NL MVP in 1996, ahead of Mike Piazza, Ellis Burks, Chipper Jones, and Barry Bonds, Caminiti led all third basemen that season in batting average (0.326), SLG% (0.621), and wRC+ (169).
Steve Finley (1995-1998): The third player in this anthology that became a featured contributor to the Padres World Series path in 1998, Finley won two Gold Gloves (1995, 1996) and selected to his first All-Star game (1997) while in a San Diego uniform. In some respects, Finley is a top ten offensive player at his position in centerfield in his years with the team. From 1995 to 1998, he ranked tenth in OPS (0.792), eighth in wRC (354) tied for ninth in wRC+ (111).
Greg Vaughn (1996-1998): A power-hitting left fielder, and the last member of this anthology on the 1998 World Series roster, Vaughn had an immediate impact on the organization. Selected to his third All-Star appearance in 1998 to go along with a Silver Slugger, he set the single-season franchise record with 50 home runs that season. He also finished fourth in NL MVP voting that season, behind Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Moises Alou. Vaughn’s power and on-base skills at his position were undervalued. Amongst left fielders from 1997 to 1998, he finished third in ISO (.268) and fourth in BB% (12.5%).
Phil Nevin (1999-2005): In his time with the Padres, Nevin received his lone All-Star honor in 2001, where he had a career year, hitting best 41 home runs, posting an OPS of .976 and accumulated 321 total bases. Traded from the Angels to the Padres before the start of the 1999 season, Nevin, a multifaceted player while with the organization, ranks third in team history in home runs hit (156), fifth in extra-base hits (317) and fifth in OPS (0.862).
Ryan Klesko (2000-2006): Like Nevin, Ryan Klesko also had an immediate impact once acquired. Ranking fourth in team history in OPS (.872), Klesko garnered his only career All-Star selection in 2001, where he set a career-high in total bases with 290. Splitting time between the outfield and first base for most of his playing career, Klesko is a highly effective player at the right corner of the infield, finishing in the top fifteen in several analytical categories from 2000 to 2006. These metrics include ranking twelfth in wOBA (.374) and OPS (.872) while tying for seventh in wRC+ (132).
Brian Giles (2003-2009): Traded to San Diego from Pittsburgh mid-season in 2003, Brian Giles continued his productivity arc with the Padres franchise. Leading all of baseball in walks (119), he finished ninth in the NL MVP voting. For his career in San Diego, Giles has a SO/BB ratio of 0.70 and ranks fifth and tied for ninth in San Diego history in OBP% (.380) and OPS (.815).
Mark Loretta (2003-2005): A productive second baseman for the franchise, Loretta had the best year of his career in 2004, receiving his first All-Star honors. He also won a Silver Slugger and finished ninth in the NL MVP voting. A highly skilled and versatile offensive player, relative to other second basemen, Loretta ranks sixth in BABIP (.324) and wOBA (.356) and second in wRC+ (121) from 2003 to 2005. He also has the third-lowest SO% in that same timeframe (7.7%).
Adrian Gonzalez (2006-2010): A highly effective player for the team, Gonzalez is arguably at his peak wearing Padres colors. Selected to three consecutive All-Star games (2008-2010) and winning two Gold Glove awards (2008, 2009), Gonzalez ranks second in Padres history in home runs hit (161) and led the Majors in walks in his 2009 campaign (119). Offensively, amongst first basemen from 2006 to 2010, Gonzalez ranks as a top producer. In those five years, he ranks seventh in wRC+ (136) and sixth in wRC (548). From a defensive perspective, he is also effective in this area, finishing tenth in Ultimate Zone Rating (7.2).
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.