San Diego Padres history: The 10 best games of Tony Gwynn's career
By Bill Felber
By any yardstick, Tony Gwynn is the greatest player in the history of the San Diego Padres.
He is the franchise leader in nearly every batting category of significance: batting average (.338), games played (2,440), runs scored (1,393), hits (3,141), RBIs (1,138), doubles, triples, total bases, WAR…and the list goes on.
An eight-time batting champion and 15-time All-Star, he was the driving force behind the team’s first three division championship teams, in 1984, 1996 and 1998. Elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2007, he got 97.6 percent of the vote.
This is a look back at the 10 most exceptional regular season outings, as well as the five best postseason games of this Hall of Fame standout.
Our standard of measurement is Win Probability Added. That calculates the individual’s role in influencing the game’s outcome. For that reason, it emphasizes late-inning game-turning accomplishments. It judges the player’s contribution within the broader context of winning the game.
San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn’s 10 most exceptional regular-season performances
10. April 8, 1984, Padres 5, Cubs 8. It is perhaps fitting that this list begins with an early season game at Jack Murphy Stadium against the team San Diego would defeat for the National League pennant. This particular game ended in defeat for the Padres but, even in a loss, Gwynn was exceptional.
His third-inning base hit proved fruitless, and into the seventh inning he had done nothing. Chicago led 2-1 when Tim Flannery got a one-out single in the seventh and advanced on an Alan Wiggins hit. That brought up Gwynn, who laced a line drive over the head of the Cubs center fielder for a triple, scoring both runners and putting the Padres ahead 3-2.
The Padres fought back to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, a walk to Gwynn figuring in the run production. But Chicago scored three times in the 10th for the victory. Gwynn Win Probability Added: 0.563.
9. May 4, 1991, Padres 6, Expos 5. At Olympic Stadium, Gwynn entered this game batting .340, and his play against the Expos demonstrated why. His first-inning single scored Bip Roberts and, when Andres Galarraga muffed his third-inning grounder, Tony Fernandez came in to score. Fred McGriff followed with a double, Gwynn scoring to tie the game 3-3.
San Diego trailed 4-3 when Gwynn came up with Fernandez on base. He lined a single to left that Ivan Calderon misplayed, scoring Fernandez and allowing Gwynn to reach third, where he was stranded.
The game proceeded into the 13th inning as a 5-5 tie. However, with Bip Roberts in scoring position, Gwynn grounded a third hit up the middle to get the eventual winning run home. Gwynn Win Probability Added: 0.569.