The five best seasons for a Padres’ starting pitcher
Here is a look at the top-five seasons for a San Diego Padres’ starting pitcher.
Jake Peavy, 2004
The 2004 season should be considered Peavy’s coming-out party as one of the best pitchers in Padres history. It was the first season of Petco Park, and Peavy was the ace of the staff. His 2.27 ERA was the best in Major League Baseball, the first of two ERA titles he would win.
His 171 ERA+ exceeded that of his Cy Young season of 2007 and is tied for the best mark in Padres history. He also struck out 173 batters along with a 4.9 WAR.
Dave Roberts, 1971
In just San Diego’s third year of existence, Roberts was the Friars’ first great pitcher. He appeared in 37 games during the 1971 campaign, with 34 of them being starts. He completed 14 of those games and posted a stellar 2.10 ERA, which is the best single-season mark by a Friars’ starter.
The 7.5 WAR he boasted is the second-best WAR by a Padres starter. The Ohio native’s 157 ERA+ is top five among single seasons as well.
Roberts’ tenure with the Friars lasted three seasons, pitching 102 total games for a 2.99 ERA.
Randy Jones, 1976
Pitching was very different over 40 years ago, and Jones was at the top of his game. Some of the numbers he put together would make today’s pitchers’ heads spin. He tossed 315 innings and made 40 starts. Among those 40 starts, a whopping 25 ended up being complete games, five of those being shutouts.
His 22 wins still stand as a Padres single-season record. Despite throwing the most innings in Padres history, the then 26-year-old southpaw managed to stifle hitters with a 2.74 ERA. Along with a 119 ERA+ and 4.7 WAR, Jones ended up winning the franchise’s first Cy Young award.
Jake Peavy, 2007
A strong argument can be made that Peavy’s 2007 campaign is the best in franchise history. Any stat you look at points to Peavy’s dominance that season. Only one pitcher (Clayton Kershaw in 2011) in the National League has achieved the Triple Crown of Pitching since Peavy accomplished the feat during that year, meaning he led the league in wins (19), ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240).
The righty from Alabama punctuated the stellar season by winning the Cy Young award, the last Friars hurler to win the honor, and his 158 ERA+ led the entire major leagues. Along with those impressive numbers, Peavy posted a 6.2 WAR and a major league-best 2.84 FIP and 1.061 WHIP.
Peavy ended up becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts. The Padres have not enjoyed a season by a pitcher even remotely close to Peavy’s success in 2007 since.
Kevin Brown, 1998
In what will likely go down as the greatest season for a one-year Padres player, the fact that Kevin Brown did not win the Cy Young in 1998 is a shame. That honor went to Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves, who posted a 6.1 WAR and 2.47 ERA. Brown bested Glavine in those two categories with 8.6 and 2.38, respectively.
His 8.6 WAR is the most by any Padres pitcher in team history and tied for Tony Gwynn‘s 1987 campaign as the most in team history.
The then-33-year-old Georgia native was the ace of a staff that won the National League pennant and reached the World Series. He posted a 1.44 ERA in four games in the postseason leading up to that Fall Classic. The 257 strikeouts Brown collected is still a team record for a single year and a career-high for him.
With how the game has changed since the 1998 season, his 257 innings pitched may never be touched by a Friars’ hurler. The awards were not there like others on this list, but strictly looking at statistics and team success, there is not much debate who had the most significant single season by a Padres starting pitcher.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.
Being a SD native for 60 years, I have seen many of their games since they started in 1969. My expansion Padres were “interesting”. Ups and mostly downs as we got ourselves established. I also watched many of the Randy Jones games in person. Many of those games took about 90 minutes total! Unheard of in today’s game. It was very inexpensive to watch them from left field back then.
Peavy was also fun to watch. I wasn’t a KB fan but he should have beaten Glavine for the Cy Young award.
While our teams have often been dismal, we have had some great individuals with great years and careers. Tony Gwynn was a rare talent and an even better human being. Thank you guys for the excitement! Thank you writers for covering all aspects of the Padres throughout this difficult time.