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Padres' Top 5 right fielders: Cassavell's take

@AJCassavell
May 12, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only ... if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorites at this position.

Here is AJ Cassavell’s ranking of the top five right fielders in Padres history.

• Padres All-Time Around the Horn Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF

1) Tony Gwynn, 1982-2001
Key fact: If you split Gwynn's numbers in half, he'd rank first and second in Padres history in WAR, hits, runs, total bases and doubles.

MLB.com has now ranked the best players at eight positions for all 30 teams, and there might not be a single more obvious answer than Tony Gwynn in right field for the Padres. Chances are, if you're reading this list, you're already well aware of what Gwynn accomplished. But it's never a bad time to recount the greatness of Mr. Padre -- especially a few days removed from what would've been Gwynn's 60th birthday.

Was Gwynn's quest MLB's last real run at .400?

Gwynn's .338 career batting average is the highest in the Major Leagues since Ted Williams. His eight batting titles are the most for any hitter in the past 100 years. (Only Ty Cobb, with 12, has more overall.) If you count only plate appearances against the 18 Hall of Fame pitchers he faced, including the postseason, Gwynn batted .331/.371/.426. And perhaps most importantly, Gwynn played his entire 20-year career in San Diego, where he is forever beloved.

2) Dave Winfield, 1973-80
Key fact: Winfield's 32 WAR is the second highest mark in Padres history, trailing only Gwynn.

Not only is Winfield clearly the second best right fielder in Padres history, but he also might be the second best player in club history. He's one of three players to don a Padres cap in the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman. In eight seasons in San Diego, Winfield posted a .284/.357/.464 slash line while reaching four straight All-Star Games from 1977-80. His '79 season is in the discussion for best in Padres history -- stacking up favorably with any of Gwynn's and Ken Caminiti's '96 National League Most Valuable Player Award-winning campaign. In a low run-scoring environment, Winfield batted .308 with a .953 OPS while leading the league with 118 RBIs and winning one of his two Gold Glove Awards as a Padre. In short: Winfield was an absolute force in San Diego, and if not for one of the best players in baseball history, he'd easily sit atop this list.

3) Brian Giles, 2003-09
Key fact: Giles is a clear third place among Padres primary right fielders in most categories, with 17.4 WAR for the club, 872 hits and 415 RBIs.

Across seven seasons in San Diego, Giles posted a .279/.380/.435 slash line and 83 homers. Those numbers might have been good enough for him to claim the top spot on the Padres' center- and left-field lists. But in right field, Giles falls to No. 3. Still, Giles was an important piece in the middle of the lineup on consecutive division winners in San Diego. He played 158 games in both 2005 and '06, batting .281 with an .835 OPS and 29 homers during that stretch.

4) Will Venable, 2008-15
Key fact: Venable's time with the Padres was split almost evenly between center and right field. His 13.3 WAR would've ranked as the best in franchise history in center.

Venable's tenure in San Diego loses some luster because he arrived after the team's strong run from 2005-07 and was only in right field for one winning team across eight seasons. But Venable was a steady and valuable presence for a long time. He posted a wRC+ of 99 or higher in each of his first six seasons in San Diego, with the ability to play all three outfield positions. Venable's '13 peak was a strong one, too, as he posted a .268/.312/.484 slash line with 22 homers -- including a then-record 15 at Petco Park.

5) Ollie Brown, 1969-72
Key fact: Brown's go-ahead double on April 8, 1969, was the game-winner in the Padres' 2-1 victory over the Astros in the first game in franchise history.

The best right fielders in Padres history stack up neatly, one through four. There's not much room for debate until the No. 5 spot. Then, it's wide open. Brown holds the slight edge because he was a much more reliable presence in right than the other options (listed below). He was an original Padre, selected from the Giants in the 1969 expansion draft. Over the next three seasons, he averaged 145 games and posted a .276/.331/.422 slash line with 52 homers while sporting a legendary throwing arm. The following summer, Brown struggled early and was dealt to Oakland. But his place in Padres history as an early force in the middle of the lineup shouldn't be forgotten.

Honorable mentions
Chris Denorfia's 9.9 WAR ranks above Brown's 6.7 mark and places him fifth in franchise history among primary right fielders. Denorfia's .292 average as a right fielder (minimum 300 games) trails only Gwynn.

Sixto Lezcano's 5.9 WAR during the 1982 season is the best by a Padre right fielder not named Gwynn or Winfield.

Hunter Renfroe's 89 homers are third all time among Padres right fielders, and his 6.1 WAR ranks eighth.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.