SAN DIEGO -- For a franchise with multiple Hall of Fame closers, four Cy Young Award winners and an abundance of electric arms, these five seasons stand out as the best pitching seasons in Padres history:
5. Trevor Hoffman, 1998
Brilliant relievers and brilliant relief seasons have become commonplace in San Diego. But Hoffman's 1998 campaign stands alone as the best. He racked up 53 saves -- a National League record at the time -- and posted a 1.48 ERA and a 2.04 FIP. Hoffman was already a dominant reliever entering the '98 season, but this was the year that catapulted him into the national consciousness as the sport's top relief arm outside Mariano Rivera. It was also the year Hoffman began entering games to AC/DC's "Hells Bells" -- which first played on July 25, 1998, as Hoffman recorded his 41st consecutive save, matching an MLB record at the time.
4. Jake Peavy, 2007
The ending was harsh -- borderline unfair, even, considering the season Peavy put forth before Game 163 against the Rockies. The right-hander wouldn't win his 20th game. The Padres wouldn't return to the postseason. But Peavy was spectacular in 2007, and one outing at Coors Field doesn’t diminish that. Peavy took home the franchise's fourth and most recent Cy Young Award, and he won the NL pitching triple crown, going 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts. Peavy is arguably the most impactful starting pitcher in Padres history, and the ‘07 season was Peavy at his finest.
3. Randy Jones, 1976
Upon further reflection, Jones' 1975-76 seasons do not seem possible. He started 40 games in '76 and completed 25 of them. (Collectively, the Padres haven't thrown that many complete games in the past decade.) Jones pitched 315 1/3 innings, and he only struck out 93 hitters -- yet he still led the NL with a 1.027 WHIP. The numbers defy belief. But that was Jones: a pitcher borne of a different era who made his living with a devastating sinker and weak contact. He won the 1976 NL Cy Young Award after setting a franchise record with 22 wins. And yet, somehow, that was Jones' second-best season ...
2. Randy Jones, 1975
How frustrating it must have been to face Jones. Opponents could always hit him. But they never hit him hard. Pitching with pace and rhythm, Jones made quick work of his opponents. In 1975, Jones didn't win the Cy Young Award (he finished second), and he threw 40 fewer innings than he did in '76. But he was even more effective, winning the franchise's first ERA title with a 2.24 mark while recording 18 complete games and six shutouts in his 36 starts.
1. Kevin Brown, 1998
The Padres only had Brown for a season. But what a season. At the game's offensive peak, Brown posted a 2.38 ERA across his 35 starts in San Diego, and his 257 strikeouts remain a franchise record. On top of that, Brown was, perhaps, even better than the numbers indicated. He sported a 2.23 FIP, and allowed 0.3 homers per nine innings in 1998. Not to mention: Brown always rose to the occasion. He recorded seven complete games and three shutouts -- and those gems always seemed to come at critical junctures. The Padres won the NL West, then Brown was similarly dominant in the playoffs -- including the best game ever pitched by a Padre. In Game 1 of the NL Division Series, Brown set a DS record with 16 strikeouts against a juggernaut Houston lineup, and he outdueled Randy Johnson in the process.
• Gaylord Perry won the second of the Padres' four Cy Young Awards in 1978, going 21-6 with a 2.73 ERA.
• Mark Davis has the best challenge to Hoffman's 1998 campaign as the franchise's best season by a reliever. Davis won the ‘89 Cy Young Award with 44 saves and a 1.85 ERA over 92 2/3 innings.
• Peavy could make a case for inclusion with his 2004 and '05 seasons as well. Peavy's five-year stretch from 2004-08 is unequaled by any pitcher in franchise history.
• Dave Roberts held the franchise's single-season ERA record with a 2.10 mark in 1971 until Dinelson Lamet bested him with a 2.09 ERA in a shortened 2020 season. Roberts' brilliance in '71 is often overlooked because of his 14-17 record on a bad Padres team. But his 7.5 WAR is tied with '75 Jones for the second-best mark for a pitcher in Padres history, behind only Brown’s 8.6 WAR in ‘98.