Padres Birthday Spotlight: Benito Santiago


Happy 50th Birthday to one of the greatest catchers to ever play for the San Diego Padres, Benito Santiago.

He was born in Puerto Rico and drafted by the Padres in the 1982 amateur draft. Five years later he had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.

In his 1987 rookie season, he hit .300 with 18 home runs and 79 RBI. He also hit a career-high 33 doubles.

That same year became only the second Padre to ever win the Rookie of the Year award; which no Padre has won it since.

During his seven seasons with the Padres he was selected to four All-Star games, hit 85 career home runs with the club and finished with a .264 batting average for the club.

He also had lots of success after he left the Padres. He went on to play for the Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants. He ended up playing 20 seasons in the major leagues. He caught 1,917 games which is 10th all-time.

We cannot talk about Santiago without mentioning is unorthodox throwing style he had when trying to throw out a runner trying to steal. He would throw from his knees. He would do this just as well, if not better, than most catchers could do the normally from their feet. He won three Gold Gloves behind the plate doing it too.

He gunned down 530 runners during his 20-year career with a 35% rate. His numbers are similar to that of Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. In 1998, he actually led the league in runners thrown out with 44.7%. In 1994, he led the league in total runners gunned down with 40. That is 47.1%.

Despite his regular season success he only made it to the postseason three times. Most notably he was named MVP of the 2002 NLCS, when the Giants defeated the Cardinals; then losing to the Anaheim Angels in the World Series. He hit three home runs in the postseason appearances and collected 25 hits in 28 games.

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Santiago finished his career hitting 217 home runs with 1,830 hits. His best season overall was 1996 with the Phillies. That year he set career highs with 30 home runs, 85 RBI’s, 71 runs scored, and a .503 slugging percentage. He retired after the 2005 season.

In 2011, he went on the Hall of Fame Ballot for the first time but fell short of receiving enough votes to remain on the ballot for future voting.

To this day, Santiago is remembered as the best catcher in San Diego Padres history.

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