Padres strange outfield history (one-year wonders)

Credit: AP Photo

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

** We would first like to thank Bill Center for the information he helped provide in researching this piece. Mr. Center is a true San Diego sports icon and we feel very blessed to have worked briefly with him on this piece. Thank you Mr. Center and a tip of the cap to you.

The San Diego Padres have had a strange history in the outfield position over the years. Justin Upton this past season joins the ranks of “one year wonders” that have patrolled the outfield for the Padres. The team has had a history of players playing just one season for the team in the outfield. Not just ordinary players either, putting up average numbers. They have had stars roam the outfield, and then for one reason or another, they are gone.

Some noteworthy names that only played one season with the Padres include Willie Davis (1976), Fred Lynn (1990), Rob Deer (1996), Milton Bradley (2007), Jim Edmonds (2008), Jason Bay (2003) and Jose Cruz Jr. (2007). Quite a list of players who all had decent major league careers. Each was attained at different times in their careers, and each was not on the team for the following season.

In 1976 the Padres went looking for a veteran outfielder, more specifically a center fielder. Willie Davis was made available by the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Padres made a deal for the 36-year-old. The Padres dealt young outfielder Dick Sharon in October of 1975 for Davis, and he rewarded the team with a very nice season. He hit .268 that year with five homers and 46 RBIs and recorded a 1.7 WAR for the Friars in 141 games. The team released him in January of 1977 after just one season.

Like Willie Davis, Rob Deer, and Fred Lynn both made their last stops in the big leagues with the Padres. The slugging outfielder Deer was 35 in 1996 when the Padres decided to give him one last shot in the majors. He hit four home runs in 50 at-bats but also hit .180 and struck out 30 times. He was the epitome of the all or nothing hitter. Lynn was the 1975 American League Rookie of the Year and the leagues MVP as well. He had a wonderful career, and at the age of 38, the Padres brought him in to play left field for the team. He was signed as a free agent and played in 90 games hitting .240 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. That was Lynn’s last season after 17 years in the major leagues.

Milton Bradley had an adventurous tenure as a Padres outfielder. The often troubled outfielder was always at the center of attention throughout his major league career, and it did not change while he was a Padres outfielder. The Padres, like many teams, were enamored with his talent and took a chance on Bradley after he wore out his welcome in Oakland. He played in 42 games for the Padres in 2007 hitting .313 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 144 at-bats. His Padres career ended when Bradley blew up on an umpire and was injured while being restrained by Padres manager Bud Black. He left via free agency after the year and became the Texas Rangers problem.

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

Jim Edmonds and Jose Cruz Jr also played one season in the Padres outfield at the end of their careers. The Padres acquired Edmonds in 2007 for minor league infielder David Freese. That turned out to be a horrible deal for the Padres as Edmonds failed miserably in San Diego, and Freese has become a successful major league player. Edmonds hit .178 in 26 games and 90 at-bats, and the team released him in May and paid his eight million dollar salary to boot. Cruz was signed as a free agent in December of 2006. He was at the end of his career, and the Padres took a chance on the veteran center fielder. Cruz played in 91 games hitting .234 with six home runs and 21 RBI’s. He was released at the trade deadline in July.

Another one year member in the Padres outfield was Jason Bay. He was obtained by the Padres from the Mets in 2002 along with Bobby Jones and Josh Reynolds for Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook. Bay had only eight at-bats in 2003 with the Padres. He went 2-8 with the Padres with one homer. He was packaged with Oliver Perez in August of 2003 and sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Brian Giles. The Pirates got a blossoming talent, but the Padres did get a ton of production from the hometown boy Brian Giles. We now give you the top five “one-year wonders” in Padres history. There are some very interesting names in this group.


4 thoughts on “Padres strange outfield history (one-year wonders)

  1. Good read. I was ready to mention George Hendrick, but I see he played in two nonconsecutive seasons. Don’t remember that one, but got me to thinking a topic for you to investigate and share. When the Padres became an expansion team, how did they acquire their first 40 man roster? There must be a story for each one. Who had the say on what player? Teams had to give up part of their 25man?, like a draft? What sort of compensation was given to a team for sending to the Padres? If MLB decides to expand again, who decides which player the Pads send and what would they receive in return? If I am the new owner of the Boise Spuds, I’ll take Kirby Yates and then get in line. You can have my first round pick 25 years from now?

  2. Your column reminds me: I think San Diego’s farm system has never produced a competent ML first baseman who played for the Padres (unless you count Broderick Perkins, which I don’t). Of course, the team has had a number of good first basemen who hung around for a year or two, but they were all acquired through trades, free agency, or the 1969 expansion draft. The Padres will need to start developing their own power hitting corner infielders very soon. Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo probably aren’t coming back.

    1. How about John Kruk? He didn’t play much first base for the Padres because of Garvey, but he did have a very nice career

    2. Derek Lee. I think he only had a couple ABs with us but he was a product of our system I believe. We’ve produced some pitchers, catchers, shortstops, second basemen, and corner outfielders. Corner infielders and center fielders have been a tough find though.

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