** I 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 I feel very blessed to have worked briefly with him on this piece. Thank you Mr. Center, and a tip of the cap to you.
This piece initially ran last season, after the loss of Justin Upton to free agency. This past season, the San Diego Padres kept this unusual tradition alive, as they allowed Jon Jay to leave via free agency. It seemed like a very appropriate time to bring this piece out once again. Enjoy.
The San Diego Padres have had a strange history at the outfield position over the years. Jon Jay this past year, and Justin Upton in the 2015 season, each join 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). That’s quite a list of players who all had decent major league careers. Each were attained at different times in their careers, and each were 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 RBI and recorded a 1.7 WAR for the Friars in 141 games. He was released by the team 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 league’s 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 RBI. 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 Bradley was constantly 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 RBI in 144 at bats. His Padres career ended when Bradley blew up at an umpire at first base, 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.
Jim Edmonds and Jose Cruz Jr also played one season in the Padres outfield at the end of their careers. Edmonds was acquired by the Padres 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 $8 million dollar salary to boot. Cruz was signed as a free agent in December of 2006. He was near 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. 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 received only eight at bats in 2003 with the Padres, in which he only managed two hits, one of which was a home run. 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.
I now give you the top five “one-year wonders” in Padres’ history. There are some very interesting names in this group.
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