First Base- Wally Joyner
On December 21, 1995, many hearts were broken by the San Diego Padres. One of the 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.
Many people enjoyed watching Bip Roberts play the game, not only because of his size but because of his intensity. He was a real fan favorite.
Fans knew who Wally Joyner was, but he is the type of player you do not appreciate until you see him play every day. At first, fans were upset with the deal, but Joyner provided stability at first base that was needed. Seeing him pick balls in the dirt from bad throws was a thing of beauty.
The California Angels drafted Wally Joyner in the 3rd round of the 1983 draft.
He made his pro debut at the age of 24 in 1986, finishing second in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting to Jose Canseco. Joyner hit .290 with 22 homers and 100 runs batted in. His next year, he recorded his best statistical season as a professional with a .285 batting average, 34 home runs, and 117 RBIs while putting up 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 1,106 RBIs. A career slash line of .289/.362/.440 shows what a great hitter Joyner truly was. The left-handed batter worked the count very well and had a great idea of what he was doing in the batter’s box. In his four years in San Diego, Joyner totaled 1,650 at-bats and hit 38 home runs and recorded 271 RBIs. He hit .291 career as a Padre and got on base at a .376 clip. Very impressive, and like I stated before, a player that is better appreciated the more you see him.
The numbers in his career are awe-inspiring. In his 7,127 at-bats, Joyner only struck out 825 times. More impressive than the low strikeout number is the fact he walked 833 times in his career. Very few players have more walks in their careers than strikeouts, 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, and that further proves what a popularity contest the award is.
The 1998 season was solid but unspectacular for Joyner. He appeared in 131 games, batting .298 with 12 homers and 80 RBIs.
Joyner returned to the Padres after his playing years were over, as he served time as an assistant hitting coach in 2012. Most recently, Joyner worked as the Detroit Tigers’ hitting coach under his former Padre teammate, Brad Ausmus, a position he held from 2014-16. 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 were a fantastic memory of that Padre era.
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