Who is the last Padres outfielder to hit 25 or more home runs in a season? The answer is a man who really fits into the “Forgotten Friars” category. It was not Ryan Klesko nor Phil Nevin, nor Mike Cameron. Adrian Gonzalez played only first base. Carlos Quentin has never played enough games to hit 25.
It was Bubba Trammell, in 2001.
I saw this trivia question recently, and did not get the answer right. I’ve been following the Padres since 1994, and I barely remember Trammell. I couldn’t remember what his face looked like until I saw his picture on baseball-reference.com. Then it came back to me… sort of.
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You have to go pre-Petco Park to find any outfielder who hit 25 homers in a season. That’s pre-2004. Thirteen seasons of feeling pretty good when an outfielder hits 15-20 homers. For reference, 215 outfielders have hit 25 or more homers in a season since 2001. All 215 have played for other teams.
The Padres were playing at the Q, Qualcomm Stadium, when Trammell accomplished this feat. Qualcomm was a pretty fair baseball stadium, even dimensions all around, 405 to dead center, 327 to left, 330 to right. About 370 in the power alleys. And Trammell was a decent power hitter.
Bubba hadn’t been given a chance to play every day until being traded to the Padres from the Mets for Donne Wall prior to the 2001 season. Trammell had put in a few years with Detroit, Tampa Bay, and the Mets, but had always played in a fourth outfielder role. Upon learning of his trade to San Diego, he said “I’d play for free if the Padres gave me 500 ABs.” Trammell nearly reached that mark, getting 490 AB in 142 games.
2001 was Tony Gwynn’s final year with the Padres, and everyone’s favorite Padre appeared in 71 games, mostly as a pinch hitter. Trammell was the player faced with playing right field for the Padres immediately after Gwynn, not an enviable role. But Trammell responded with the best year of his career, hitting .261 and driving in 92 runs to go with his 25 bombs.
Still, Padres fans weren’t quite ready to see Tony go. And Nevin and Klesko, playing third and first base, had 40 and 31 homers that year. It was the latter stages of the Steroid Era, and homers were plentiful. Trammell’s 25 was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, he was only 26th in the majors in HR that year. Still, Trammell had a hard-nosed style of play that fans enjoyed, and he was voted Favorite New Padre for the year by the fans.
Trammell’s production dropped off the next year, as he hit .243 with 17 homers and 56 RBI. That wasn’t good enough for the Padres to keep him, and he was traded to the Yankees, along with prime prospect Mark Phillips, for Rondell White.
Trammell played 22 games for the Yankees before leaving the team midseason. Trammell later reported that he had been suffering from depression during that season. He played a few more years in the minors, but never played in the big leagues again, finally retiring in 2007.
Trammell’s final numbers included a .261 average, 82 home runs, and 285 RBI in seven years. And now, 13 years later, he is the answer to a trivia question.