For the past four seasons I've written a preseason article about what milestones were set the year before and what ones might be on the horizon. This year, being that I'm on the masthead and all, it's about time to get more timely about these things. With the 2012 season in the books it's appropriate to take a look back at the season that was. For me, it's fun to look at the numbers and see how they stack up with history.
We can first start with number everyone looks at for a baseball team. Wins. 76 wins on the season. The Padres don't have the most illustrious past, so 76 wins taken in the friar vacuum is pretty positive. There have been 44 MLB seasons played in San Diego, and that's the 18th highest win total. The Padres got to 76 one other time in 2000 (Remember when Brett Boone was a Padre? He's from San Diego, you know?). In 24 of the Padres' 44 seasons (55%) they failed to reach that mark. I don't expect that to be parade worthy, but it just gets its proper perspective. In other words, it could have been (and plenty of times has been) worse.
Next, let's move on to Mr. 2012. Our Savior. The New Guy. Chase Headley. With such a big season, you have to break this thing up into categories. The first category is MLB history. Chase set some of that by leading the National League in RBI. 115 RBI in totality. That includes two on the final day to propel his team to a win. The only other Padres player to achieve this honor was Dave Winfield in 1979. Whatever you think of the utility of the RBI stat is, it is still a number that will be tracked for a long time. And when you look back at the National League for 2012, you'll see a Padres name at the top of the heap.
The next category for Mr. Headley is personal bests. Chase hasn't exactly been a stud ballplayer over the last 3 seasons, but he set some personal highs that most players who play half their games at Petco wouldn't touch. In 2012, Chase equaled or bested almost every one of his career highs in major statistical categories. Here are the ones where new highs were set: Plate Appearances (699), At Bats (604), Hits (173), Home Runs (31), RBI (115), Walks (86), Strikeouts (157), OBP (.376), SLG (.498), OPS (.875), Total Bases (301), Sacrifice Flies (5) and WAR (6.0). He equaled career highs in Games Played (161), Doubles (31) and Stolen Bases (17).
The third category concerns the franchise leaderboards. Before the season, the only category I mentioned with regards to these milestones and Chase Headley was the doubles stat. I gave him a shot at reaching the top 10. Headley now has 139 Doubles for the Friars, which puts him in 10th all time among Padres. Just as I had thought. He started the year in 16th and passed Nate Colbert (130), Ken Caminiti (127), Benito Santiago (124), Gene Richards (123) and Carmelo Martinez (111) along the way. What I couldn't see coming was Headley's assault on some single season leaderboards. Those 115 RBI mentioned earlier rank 7th in Padres single season history. It matches Joe Carter's 1990 season where he drove in the same number. He came 15 short of Ken Caminiti's Snickers fueled 1996 MVP total of 130 that tops the franchise list. Also ranking 7th is his WAR total for the year. 6.0 WAR matches Gary Sheffield's 1992 and Greg Vaughn's 1998 for that spot. Tony Gwynn (1984, 1986 and moster 1987), Adrian Gonzalez (2009), Caminiti (1996) and Winfield (1979) take up the top 6 spots. Headley also almost earned the dubious honor of Padres single season strikeout king. His 157 Strikeouts this year now ranks 2nd behind Mike Cameron's 160 in 2007. Nate Colbert's 150 in 1970 previous had the #2 spot.
The last category is round numbers. Chase got his 2500th career Plate Appearance, his 300th Run Scored and his 600th hit in 2012.
Will Venable has his ups and downs, but he's been wearing a Padres uniform since 2008 and with even semi-regular starting time that'll get you on some Padres franchise leaderboards. As predicted he cracked the top 10 on the franchise triples list this year. His career high of 8 Triples landed him the #7 spot after starting the year in 14th. He now has 26 Triples as a Padre and passed Luis Salazar (24), Dave Roberts (23), Nate Colbert (22), Bip Roberts (21) and Ozzie Smith (19) on the way to 7th. Will entered the season as the franchise leader in stolen base percentage and with a now 82.69% Stolen Base Percentage he stills holds the top spot even though it dipped a little. As mentioned, Will set a career high in triples, but his career bests weren't limited to that stat. He set highs with 148 Games Played, 470 Plate Appearances, 417 At Bats, 26 Doubles, 62 Runs Scored and a .264 Batting Average. In round numbers, Will now has over 400 career hits (401) and his career batting average is over .250 (.253). If you're into more ephemera, he's also only the 7th Padres to have at least 3 consecutive seasons stealing 20 or more bases. Alan Wiggins (1982-84), Gene Richards (1977-1981), Ozzie Smith (1978-81), Roberto Alomar (1988-1990), Quilvio Veras (1997-1999) and Damian Jackson (1999-2001) are the others.
Everth Cabrera was mostly off the Padres' radar at the start of the season, so he didn't get any milestone projections from the author. His biggest asset to the steal is his base stealing and he picked up some milestones with that skill this year. The big one is that he led the National League with 44 Stolen Bases. No Padres player had ever led the league in that category before. It also ranks 10th in Padres single season stolen base history, 2 ahead of Roberto Alomar's 42 in 1989 and 2 behind Bip Roberts' 46 in 1990. Everth flirted with going perfect this season stealing bases without getting caught, which would have set a Padres (and obviously Major League) in Stolen Base Percentage. Instead he'll tuck in behind Tony Gwynn's 1993 93.33 percentage for 2nd place with a 91.67% Stolen Base Percentage. His 81.82% Stolen Base Percentage over his Padres career ranks 2nd in Padres history.
Yonder Alonso was certainly on the radar to start the season more than Cabera, but no one could really know what he'd do in his first major league season. What he did is show that he's a doubles machine. His 39 Doubles this season is tied for 10th among Padres single season leaders with Ryan Klesko's 2002. It is a rookie record for Padres with the previous record holder being Benito Santiago's 33 doubles in 1987. Alonso also got publicity for his penchant for getting multiple doubles in a single game. Unearthed was a record that 6 multi-double games was the best a Padres player had done in a season which Tony Gwynn did in 1993 and Adrian Gonzalez in 2007. Yonder Alonso ended up with 10 Multi-double games in 2012.
Somehow, I missed the boat with Carlos Quentin. He gets hit by pitches a lot. His 23 HBP with the White Sox in 2011 would have been a Padres single season record, so it should have been easy to project him setting that mark in 2012. Indeed he did. His 17 Hit By Pitch broke the Padres single season record of 15 set by Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2008. There was a little bit a hub-bub with Quentin's 3rd HBP of the year because that was 100th. People like round numbers. Other round numbers passed by Quentin this year were his 600th career hit (he has 603 now) and his 400th career RBI (429 now).
Luke Gregerson's mark in Padres history so far is his number of games played. In 2010, the Padres leaned on him plenty and he ranks 3rd with 80 games played that year behind Craig Lefferts' 83 in 1986 and Heath Bell's 81 in 2007. This year he pitched in 77 games, which is a tie for 7th most in a single season. Butch Metzger also got that total in his ROY 1976, so did Mike Matthews in 2001 and Chad Qualls last year. Gregerson's total of 290 games pitched for the Padres ranks 6th in franchise history. He passed many on his way to that spot, but notable were the last two he passed. Rollie Fingers now rankes 7th with 265 and Randy Jones 8th with 264.
Similar to Gregerson, Joe Thatcher's mark is with his abundance of trips to the mound. With 237 games pitched he now ranks 10th in Padres history having passed Mark Davis and Gary Lucas for that honor.
At the start of the season Clayton Richard needed 134 2/3 Innings Pitched to qualify for the Padres franchise lists for rate stats. He certainly got that setting a career high with 218.1 Innings Pitched. He now ranks 10th in Padres history in Win-Loss % at .528. That comes from a 38-34 record as a Padre. He also tied a couple of career highs this year with 14 Wins and 33 Games Started. That matched his 2010 totals in both categories. On a more dubious note, Richard led the Majors in hits allowed with 228 and the National League in home runs allowed with 31. Whoops.
Miscellaneous Career Highs (by non-rookies) and Round Numbers
- Cameron Maybin: Games Played (147), RBI (45) and Walks (44, tied with 2011). 500th Strikeout (now has 653) and 100 Games Played and Started (now has 126 and 122 respectively).
- Jason Marquis: 1000th Strikeout (now has 1065).
- Huston Street: 200th Save (now has 201).
- Mark Kotsay: 700th RBI (now has 708).