First Base- Wally Joyner
On December 21st, 1995 my heart was broken by the San Diego Padres. One of my all-time favorite Padres players was traded away. Bip Roberts and Bryan Wolff were traded to the Kansas City Royals for Wally Joyner and Aaron Dorlarque.
I enjoyed watching Bip Roberts play the game, not only because of his size, but because of his intensity. He was a true fan favorite. I knew who Wally Joyner was, but he is the type of player you really do not appreciate until you see him everyday. At first I was upset with the deal, but Joyner provided the stability at first base that was needed. Seeing him pick balls in the dirt from bad throws, was a thing of beauty.
Wally Joyner was drafted by the California Angels in the 3rd round of the 1983 draft. He made his pro debut at the age of 24 in 1986, finishing second in rookie of the year voting to Jose Canseco. Joyner hit .290 with 22 homers and 100 runs batted in. His next year he had his best statistical season as a professional with a .285 batting average, 34 home runs and 117 RBI’s and a 4.1 WAR. He looked to be one of the brightest and best young players in the game.
Joyner had very decent career numbers when it was all said and done. 16 career seasons with 204 home runs and 1106 runs driven in. A career slash line of .289/.362/.440 shows what a great hitter Joyner was. He worked the count very well, and had a great idea of what he was doing in the batters box. In his four years in San Diego Joyner totals 1,650 at bats and hit 38 home runs and 271 RBI’s. He hit .291 career as a Padre and got on base at a .376 clip. Very impressive, and like I stated, a player that is better appreciated the more you see him.
The numbers on his career are very impressive. In his 7,127 at bats, Joyner only struck out 825 times. More impressive than the low strike out number is the fact he walked 833 times in his career. Very few players have more walks in their career than strike outs, especially in the modern era of the game. Joyner also retired with a .994 career fielding percentage in 17,650 chances. To say he was solid with the glove is an absolute understatement. He was never awarded a gold glove in his career unfortunately.
The 1998 season was solid but unspectacular for Joyner. He appeared in 131 games batting .298 with 12 homers and 80 runs driven in. Joyner returned to the Padres after his playing years were over. He was as an assistant hitting coach in 2012. Most recently he was named the Detroit Tigers hitting coach under his former Padre teammate Brad Ausmus. A position he currently holds. I will forever remember Wally Joyner as a smooth swinging Friar with a steady fan base. Those “Wally World” signs and the fans dressed with the bald heads was a fantastic memory of that Padre era.