Remembering the 1998 San Diego Padres

Credit: AP Photo

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20 Oct 1998: Outfielder Steve Finley #12 of the San Diego Padres in action during the 1998 World Series Game 3 against the New York Yankees at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Yankees defeated the Padres 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport
.Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport

Center Field- Steve Finley 

Another one of my favorite players in Padres’ history was Steve Finley.

The center fielder was acquired from the Astros with Ken Caminiti in that massive 12-player trade in December of 1994.

Finley played four seasons for the Padres, totaling 602 games and 2,396 at bats. Finley smacked 82 home runs as a Padre and drove in 298 runs with 22 stolen bases. A .276/.334/.458 hitting line is what Finley retired with as a Padre. Not too bad, but Finley actually got better, and it pains fans that it wasn’t in a Padres uniform.

Finley had shown power with the Padres in 1996 and 1997, as he hit 30 and 28 home runs those years. His power numbers dropped down to 14 home runs in 1998 and his average dropped to .249, which was a new career low. At the age of 33, the Padres simply got scared away by his downward trend and age. Who would have known that Finley would age well and have six solid years in Arizona. In 1999, his first year as a Diamondback, Finley hit 34 home runs and drove in a career-high 103 runs while hitting .264. The Padres must have had immediate remorse for not signing him long-term. 4 years-$21.5 million is what Finley ultimately signed for. A hefty price tag, but well worth the money paid by Arizona.

Finley’s 1998 season was probably his worst as a major league regular outfielder. He did play in 159 games, but his before-mentioned .249 batting average was his worst to date. He also struck out a whopping 103 times, which was his most in his professional career for one full season. His on-base percentage in 1998 was also at an all time low, .301. He really seemed lost at the plate at times that season. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the contract year or what.

When it was all said and done, Steve Finley played 19 seasons in the major leagues. He totaled 2,583 games, 9,397 at bats, 304 homers, and 1,167 runs batted in on his career. Finley retired with a batting line of .271/.332/.442. He also stole 320 bases, making him a member of the 300-300 club (300 home runs and 300 stolen bases).

He surely possessed that rare combination of speed and power. Finley, in his 19-year career, had the dubious honor of playing for all five National League West teams; Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, and D-Backs. These days, Finley still resides in the county of San Diego and is active in raising his five children. Most recently, you may now see Steve Finley participating in the Fox Sports San Diego pre-game/post-game shows for the Padres.


1 thought on “Remembering the 1998 San Diego Padres

  1. I remember 1998 with fondness and I remember the next 20 years of following this team get worse and worse. Wow…. We’ve come a Long Way since then. Bobble heads don’t do it for me. Management is putting lipstick on a pig. Sad.

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