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San Diego Padres' All-Time Starting Nine: The Best of the Best

M.T. RobinsonCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2017

San Diego Padres' All-Time Starting Nine: The Best of the Best

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    Tony Gwynn at Yankee Stadium 1998Al Bello/Getty Images

    The San Diego Padres have had many great players over the years, and this list represents what I feel is the best lineup one can make from our all-time roster.

    It's the cream of the crop, the guys you would put on a PS3 All-Time Padres team. 

    I have been a Padres fan since 1976, and I have done my research of the seasons before my arrival. Here is my personal starting all-time squad, based on a statistical analysis as well as my own gut.

    Bob Owchinko, John Urrea and Paul Dade will probably not make the cut, although I do have some gardening work for them (thanks Mrs. Kroc).

    The Padres All-Time Biggest Busts lineup will be my next project, so let's look at the A-list, and next we will visit the F-list.

    * For some reason, Catcher was not included in the first edition, I have since repaired this brain lock moment, carry on...

1B: Nate Colbert

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    Nate Colbert is still the MLB the All Time Record Holder for Home Runs and RBI in a double header

    It was either Nate Colbert or Adrian Gonzalez at first base, only Steve Garvey even came close after that.

    I looked over the lifetime stats of both of these players as Padres, and it was close—incredibly close.

    Colbert gets the nod because he still holds the above record, one that even Babe Ruth does not own. Big Nate smashed five home runs and knocked in 13 RBI in an Atlanta twin-bill back in 1972. No one had done it before that, and no one has done it since.

    There is some grainy film documenting Nate's big day, filmed in the crudest of fashions by some dude with a super 8, but footage is footage.

    In comparing Colbert's and Gonzalez stats, I was amazed at the similar numbers each put up for San Diego. Colbert hit 163 home runs as a Padre, while AG belted 161.Gonzalez did lead in RBI and average, driving in 501 runs, while posting a .288 average in comparison to Colbert's 488 RBI and .253 lifetime numbers.

    Both played in pitchers' parks, with Colbert dealing with San Diego Stadium and its 17 foot wall, while Gonzalez hit at Petco Park, home of the 405-foot out.

    As I said, this was a tough choice, but I had to give it to the record holder.

2B: Roberto Alomar

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    Roberto Alomar now resides in the Hall of FameStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    An easy choice. Roberto Alomar spent his first seasons playing in obscurity here in San Diego, but his talent was obvious to all who saw him vacuuming scorching grounders up out of the infield dirt. 

    The most surprising thing I found in my search was who holds the Padres record for most at-bats and games played at second base. Tim Flannery started 691 games for the Padres, batting 1,892 times.

    No one else comes close. 

    In being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Alomar is yet another example of one who the Pads let get away. Former Padres GM Trader Jack Mckeon said he punched the radio when he heard that the Pads had dealt Alomar to Toronto.

    While a Padre, Alomar put up good numbers, hitting .283 while driving in 157 runs. Alomar also stole 90 bases for San Diego.

    Watching Alomar become the player he was always going to be while playing for any other team was much like having to listen to the soundtrack from Annie for 15 long years.

3B: Ken Caminiti

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    Cammi is gone but not forgottenStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I know, Roid City, but the way I have come to look at that era is that EVERYONE was juiced, so it was still a level playing field. Imagine facing Roger Clemens at his 'roided up best.

    In his time as a Padre, Caminiti led San Diego to two division titles and a National League pennant, culminating with San Diego's amazing appearance in the 1998 World Series. 

    Caminiti won an MVP in 1996 for the Pads, hitting .326 powering, 40 home runs and driving in 130 runs.

    My Caminiti moment came in that 1996 season, I was sitting down the third base line in a game against the Montreal Expos (remember them?) when Caminiti hit the highest home run I have ever seen. This was a proverbial moon shot. It took forever to come down into the stands, like watching a majestic drive from the first tee.

    Cami also provided me with the only foul ball I will.ever catch, against those same Expos in 1995. That ball is still here in my collection, waiting for me to snag another.

SS: Garry Templeton

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    Templeton over Ozzie Smith? Of courseSean Haffy/Getty Images

    Ozzie Or Garry? Twenty-five years later and no Padres shortstop has quite caught up to either Smith or Templeton.

    I posted the Pads' all-time top five shortstops recently, so this is ground I have already covered.

    Instead of regurgitating Tempelton's stats and virtues yet again, I want to describe what watching Tempy playing every day was like. The man was SMOOTH. Tempy was such a great player that there were times when he looked like he was phoning it in, when the truth was it was just that damn easy for him.

    While the Cardinals obviously got the better of the deal overall, Templeton was as good as any player the Friars have ever traded for, before or since.

RF: Tony Gwynn

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    Tony Gwynn set the standard for Padres outfielders for the next centuryStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Hall of Fame right fielder Tony Gwynn wins hands down here, even over one Dave Winfield. 

    Gwynn was the heart and soul of the Padres for 20 seasons, winning eight batting titles, two National League pennants and three Western Division titles. A lifetime .338 hitter, Gwynn was a recurring nightmare for any opposing pitcher.

    Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, Gwynn is by far the Padres' best representative in Canton.

    The stat that just caught my eye which speaks volumes about Gwynn's consistency is that in 9,288 lifetime at bats, he only struck out 434 times. Let me put that in perspective: that's striking out only 434 times over 20 years of everyday play.

    My Gwynn moment? In 1995, San Diego had the bases loaded in the eight inning of a two-run ball game, in sweltering heat against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Q. Gwynn had been down with knee problems and did not start, but he was called on to pinch hit. The Q was going bonkers as Gwynn limped into the batters box, and promptly ripped a three run double into the gap.The Pads won that game, imagine that.

    CLUTCH.

    That's the stuff legends are made of.

CF:Gene Richards

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    Gene Richards makes the grade in Center Field

    Who the heck is Gene Richards? Why not Steve Finley? I debated this question for a while, and decided even though Finley obviously had more success over all, Richards holds all the records. 

    Gene Richards is still listed at No. 2 for lifetime steals as a Padre with 242.

    Richards was the Padres' starting center fielder almost exclusively from from 1977 through 1983. With a lifetime .290 average, Geno ripped 171 and 193 base hits respectively in 1978 and 1980.

    Looking at Richards overall numbers from 1980, a.301 average in 642 at bats, if he had played for the Yankees back then, he would be a house hold name...

    What I remember most about watching Richards play was a unique upright batting stance that was like watching a batting machine swivel through the ball.

    Richards was quick as a flash in the outfield, and his defense helped lead the Padres to their first winning record of 84-78 in 1978.

    Richards was one of three Padres to swipe 50 or more bases in 1980 (61), the only time San Diego has ever had three players (Jerry Mumphrey 52 and Ozzie Smith 57) pilfer that many sacks in one season. 

LF: Rickey Henderson

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    Rickey makes the playStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    How can I not include the all-time stolen bases leader? It was a toss-up between Rickey and Carmelo Martinez, who put up massively superior numbers as a Padre. Left field has been a black hole for the Padres over the last 42 seasons, but these two players stand out in a sea of mediocrity.

    Some of the things Rickey did as a Padre were colossal, such as set the all-time runs scored record, while stealing 91 bases. Every base Henderson stole was a record while with the Padres, giving the Friars unlimited free press every time he did.

    My Rickey moment? Just hearing the news that the Padres had signed someone so credible.

    Carmelo Martinez gets honorable mention by virtue of his 82 lifetime home runs, a left field record for San Diego. Martinez was a vital cog in the Padres' 1984 playoff machine. 

C: Terry Kennedy

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    TK lays into one

    There are no Johnny Bench's here, Nobody to set the standard for all of baseball like Tony Gwynn did.

    Padre catching has been their Achilles heel for 80 percent of their existence as a major league franchise, give or take a season or two.A hundred guys you never heard of have come and gone, Mandy Ramirez, Doug Gwosdz, Dann Bilardello, and some slug named Sandy Alomar Jr that they got rid of...

    Stuck in a repeating time loop, the Padres seem destined to trot out every bottom end catcher on the market, from now until the end of time, or at least until gas returns to .78 cents a gallon...

    I had to really split hairs here, and rather than let the offensive numbers decide this, I looked at the defensive stats, and that's where the difference was found.

    Based on Iron Man like durability, I have to give this one to Terry Kennedy, who started 792 games at catcher for San Diego, challenged only by Benito Santiago at 778.

    Kennedy was stellar with the glove, clocking in with a .984 lifetime fielding percentage in 4427 chances.

    TK was also a double ripping machine, as in "Kennedy lines a bullet past the first baseman into the corner, a stand up double to lead off the 4th"

    Getting Honorable Mention here is Freddy Kendall, who also put up great defensive numbers, as in a .987 fielding percentage in 3550 chances. Gene Tenace also made a mark with the glove.

    John Flaherty is in there too, any Padre catcher who won a National League pennant is worthy..

    As to this years catchers.... ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

P: Randy Jones

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    Randy Jones was the Padres first Cy young award winner in 1976

    Randy Jones was a phenomenon in the '70s. Every time Jones pitched, the stands in San Diego would be rocking. Never before had San Diego put a player on the mound that could keep up with the Tom Seavers of the day.

    Jones was untouchable in 1975 and 1976, winning 42 games while placing the Padres on the map for the first time. Jones won comeback player of the year in '75, winning 20 games with a 2.25 ERA.

    No Padre pitcher had ever looked quite so sharp, and I can only think of a few that have had an equal two-year run. Jones' number was retired by the Pads, an honor only three other Padres currently enjoy

    Johnny Bench once got so frustrated with Jones brand of sinking diving junk that he snapped, wearing the golden sombrero for the day and cursing Jones during every at bat.

    That's my starting nine, whats yours? Feel free to point out my errors, I mean I know I left Barry Evans off the list...

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