It’s that time of the year again. Right smack in the middle of one of the most active days in baseball prior to the Winter Meetings, which are held as luck would have it, in San Diego, and upon the heels of losing free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox, the BBWAA unveiled this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. Three prominent former Padres, Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, and Brian Giles represent the Friars, as each hopes that they will receive the phone call of a lifetime. Let’s review the Padres’ careers of each man.
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-Gary Sheffield, Third Baseman: Sheff played in exactly 211 games for the Friars during the 1992 and 1993 campaigns before leaving for the Florida Marlins. He made an impact during his brief stay in San Diego, finishing third in the ’92 NL MVP voting, winning a Silver Slugger, being an All-Star, and winning a National League batting crown with a .330 average.
In those 211 games, Sheffield hit 43 home runs, and drove in 136 RBI, and along with Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez, made up a pretty potent Padres’ lineup. What a shame that fans could not have seen how that foursome could’ve worked out over several years. A glimpse of greatness, and he was gone just as quickly as he came. On a crowded HOF ballot, and his admitted involvement with PEDs, Sheff will most likely get the call, just not this year.
-Fred McGriff, First Baseman: Another key component of those early 1990s Padres’ lineups, the Crime Dog swatted 84 home runs in parts of three seasons for the Friars, prior to getting moved to the Atlanta Braves midway through the 1993 season. Padres’ fans are well aware of the fire sale that took place, as Tony Gwynn was the only man left standing from that core lineup that was an elite talent.
McGriff, like Sheffield, was here and gone too quickly. He finished in the top six in MVP voting in two of his three seasons in San Diego, and drove in over 200 runs. What a treat to think back to those teams, when the Padres’ lineup was a juggernaut and could score in bunches. To face the likes of Fernandez, Gwynn, Sheffield and McGriff? No thank you. The Crime Dog finished his career seven home runs shy of the once-magical 500 home run plateau, but make no mistake, nobody will EVER accuse McGriff of playing dirty and cheating the game. If anyone should be given the nod for doing things the right way, and just missing, it’s the Crime Dog.
-Brian Giles, Outfielder: The most average of the three players, Giles spent parts of seven seasons in San Diego, and finished in the top 10 for NL MVP voting in 2005, finishing ninth. Giles hit over .300 twice during his Padres tenure, led the league in walks with 119 in 2005, and played in 158 or more games in a season three times.
Giles finished his Padres’ career with just under 900 base hits, over 500 walks, and just under 200 doubles. He was never the best player, but he was a grinder, and a valuable piece to the Padres during their early to mid 2000s postseason runs. Giles left the Padres after 2009, playing in 61 games, and hitting .191. An unceremonious ending for one of the better guys to have played in San Diego. He is on the HOF ballot because he played major league ball, and nothing else. Odds are, he will drop off the ballot after this season due to receiving so few votes.