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Friar Favorites: The Padres' Best 1B Ever

Eric GomezAnalyst INovember 20, 2008

As a way to liven up this long offseason (As a Padre fan, I've been literally tuned out since mid-July), we're going to take a trip down memory lane and talk about the best Padres of all-time.

To begin, we'll take a look at first basemen. In alphabetical order, we will run through five of the best the Padres have called their own.

You will then vote on your favorite, and when all is said is done—a player profile will be completed on the winner.

A position that usually equals middle-of-the-lineup power in baseball, San Diego has been no exception to the rule. In fact, of the all-time top five home run hitters in franchise history, three played first base regularly.

And now, the nominees:

Nate Colbert (1969 - 1974) — Without question, the team's brightest star throughout the early years of the franchise; Colbert was a three-time All-Star who hit primarily for power.

In 1972, arguably his best season—Colbert ranked eighth in the MVP balloting while hitting 38 HR and 111 RBI, while stealing 15 bases, all career highs. A durable player, Nate played in more than 140 four times in his six-year tenure.

Upon leaving San Diego after the 1974 season, Colbert set marks that rank among the franchise's best: He's first in home runs (with 163), strikeouts, and ranks in the top 10 in runs, hits, doubles, RBI, walks, and OPS.

Adrian Gonzalez (2006 - ) — A former No. 1 draft pick coming out of Eastlake HS in Chula Vista, CA, Gonzalez was secured in a coup of a 2005 trade that sent pitchers Akinori Otsuka and Adam Eaton to Texas in exchange for Chris Young, Terrmel Sledge, and the aforementioned first baseman.

Adrian immediately shined and has already totaled 90 home runs (good for seventh all-time) in a Padres uniform.

Twice on the MVP ballot and an All-Star in 2008, Gonzalez has showed a steady increase in every major offensive category since his arrival in San Diego.

This season, he pounded 36 HR and 119 RBI, both career bests. He's also a defensive asset, and after seasons of being overlooked, finally won a Gold Glove after the 2008 season.

Since coming to the Padres prior to the 2006 season, he's only missed a grand total of seven games out of a possible 486.

Wally Joyner (1996 - 1999) — Perhaps an exception to the rule in this power-heavy list, Wally Joyner made his return to Southern California after a four-year tenure with the Kansas City Royals.

Before being traded prior to the 2000 season (for Ryan Klesko, among others), Wally was an integral part of the San Diego lineup and clubhouse, and was part of two N.L. West crowns in 1996 and 1998, the latter leading up to a World Series showdown with the Yankees.

Joyner and Tony Gwynn formed one-two punch that was tough for pitchers to get around, as both men got on base often and created opportunities for the power hitters that awaited in the middle of the lineup.

In 1997, he ranked fifth in the N.L. with a .327 AVG and struck out only once every nine at-bats, good for ninth in the league.


Ryan Klesko (2000 - 2006) — A burly lefty with a powerful swing, Klesko starred in some awful Padres teams in the early part of the decade and sadly tailed off with age as the team began to win with its move to Petco Park.

However, Ryan's numbers speak for themselves when considered for a spot on this list.

Although he only reached the 30 HR plateau once in his tenure with the Friars, "Rhino" ranks fifth on San Diego's all-time list with 133 total. Pairing with 3B/OF Phil Nevin for most of his time in San Diego, Klesko put up solid offensive numbers in each season.

A complete offensive player, Ryan ranks in the all-time Padre top 10 for almost every imaginable offensive category: Batting average, OBP, SLG%, OPS, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, HR, RBI and walks.

His speed often surprised pitchers and catchers alike: He stole more than 20 bases twice for the club.


Fred McGriff (1991 - 1993) — Yet another chapter in a book entitled "San Diego Padres: What Could've Been?" McGriff was just one of many traded away during a 1993 fire sale headed by then-owner, Tom Werner.

In his short stay with the club, McGriff belted 84 HR (good for 9th all-time) and was voted an All-Star in 1992, when the mid-summer classic was coincidentally played in San Diego.

A two-time silver slugger award winner, McGriff lead the N.L. with 26 intentional walks (his mark is also a club record) in 1991, a recognition of his dangerousness as a hitter. After being traded to the Atlanta Braves, McGriff went on to play in four more All-Star games—and win a World Series in 1995.


So that's it, have your say in the poll and the comment space below. Who's the best? Any glaring omissions?


Next: Second Basemen

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