Something that will be easy to notice about the Padres all time home run leaders below is that the very top of the list mostly got there in short order. There’s only one player within the top five who spent more than 10 seasons in San Diego. And to make it better, each of the hitters currently in the top two spots got there in no more than six years.
The most recent generation of Padres players will effectively remake the organization’s career home run leaderboard shortly. For now, though, let’s first check out the current top five before detailing who is hot on their collective tails within the top 20.
Padres All Time Home Run Leaders: Top 5
Nate Colbert: 163 Home Runs
I’m not going to lie. As I worked through the all-time home run leaders for each MLB team, I got to the Padres and was dumbfounded that I’d never heard of Nate Colbert. Based on the current players climbing up this leaderboard, he won’t be at the top for much longer. But still, it’s impressive that he got to his current position in just six years with San Diego.
Each of Colbert’s first five seasons included 20-plus home runs. His final year with the club fell short of that mark, but he still slugged 14 homers in 437 plate appearances. The first baseman/outfielder spent 10 years in the big leagues with five different teams. However, his greatest — and really, only — success came with the Padres.
In 63 plate appearances with the Houston Astros at the start of his career, Colbert posted a .295 OPS with no dingers. After hitting 163 home runs with a .800 OPS for San Diego, his final two years (315 plate appearances) included 10 homers and a .570 OPS.
Colbert’s career year was 1972. He made his second of three straight All-Star Game appearances and eventually finished eighth in NL MVP voting. He posted career-high marks in OPS (.841), homers (38), RBI (111), doubles (27), and runs scored (87).
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Adrian Gonzalez: 161 Home Runs
Adrian Gonzalez also didn’t need much time in San Diego to hit the second-most home runs in franchise history (for now, at least). The only time he finished with fewer than 30 in a single season with the Padres was his first one. The first baseman slugged 24 dingers during his first full campaign as a big leaguer in 2006.
He also set a new single-season career-high mark each of the following three years. From those 24, Gonzalez jumped up to 30 in 2007, 36 in 2008, and then 40 in 2009 before hitting 31 in 2010. That 40-homer performance is currently among the most powerful seasons in Padres history, too.
This four-year run of 30-plus homers was quite impressive overall. This time spanned 2,794 plate appearances. Gonzalez slashed .284/.377/.517 while averaging 34 home runs, 34 doubles, 105 RBI, and 95 runs scored. From the overall standpoint of value, he saved his best for last. After accumulating 2.9 and 3.1 fWAR in 2007 and 2008, respectively, those numbers went up to 5.8 in 2009 and 4.4 in 2010 before hitting free agency.
Phil Nevin: 156 Home Runs
Phil Nevin is also among the Padres’ single-season home run leaders. However, he did the majority of his work to land on San Diego’s all-time home run list during his first three years with the organization. After hitting a career-high 24 home runs in 1999, he improved that to 31 in 2000 and then 41 in 2001. Nevin did post one more season of 20-plus homers in 2004, but still, just under 62% of his homers as a Padre came from 1999-01.
He wasn’t only slugging dingers, either. Between 2000 and 2001, Nevin produced consecutive seasons of 30-plus doubles and slashed .304/.381/.566 across both campaigns. In looking at that 2000 season, there was one month in particular that truly put him over the top.
Nevin never posted a month with double-digit homers that year, but he came awfully close in August. He hit nine dingers with 29 RBI, both of which were monthly highs for him. He also paired that with an eye-popping .394/.488/.740 line. The infielder spent all but six of his plate appearances in the clean-up spot, which makes sense for the type of production he provided.
Dave Winfield: 154 Home Runs
Dave Winfield spent the majority of his 22-year Hall of Fame career with the New York Yankees (nine seasons). But before that happened, he was a first-round draft pick of the Padres and spent his first eight seasons in San Diego. The 12-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glover debuted at the age of 21, with his first full campaign coming the following year.
His power developed later on, as well. He hit 20 homers in a season just once over his first three years before doing it in each of his final four years prior to joining the Yankees. Winfield enjoyed many top performances during his career. He finished within the top 15 of MVP voting nine times. None of those occasions included a higher finish than 1979 with the Padres when he placed third behind Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell, who were co-MVPs.
Through 686 plate appearances as a 27-year-old, Winfield hit .308/.395/.558 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 118 RBI. He also led the league in OPS+ (166) and total bases (333) during this season. It was the first time he enjoyed at least 30 homers and 100 RBI in the same year. That’s a feat he’d accomplish just two more times in his career. However, Winfield did drive in at least 100 runs seven more times.
Tony Gwynn: 135 Home Runs
As a huge Tony Gwynn fan, I’m elated to talk about his Hall of Fame career. He won’t be fifth all-time in Padres history in home runs for much longer (as you can see below), but he was his own special breed. While it took him 20 years to collect those 135 homers, he collected 3,141 total hits with a career .338 average. So, we all know that wasn’t the main part of his game.
Gwynn never struck out more than 40 times in a single season (which happened in 1988). The outfielder hit 10-plus homers in a year on five occasions. The first time he did it was in 1986 when he hit 14. He didn’t do it again until 1994 when he hit 12 (and posted a .394 batting average). But then, Gwynn did it in three straight years from 1997 to 2000 (17, 16, and 10).
That 1997 performance was especially crazy. Not only did he hit a career-high 17 dingers, but it was also the only time he surpassed the 100-RBI mark (he drove in 119). He won his eighth and final batting title while posting a line of .372/.409/.547. Gwynn went to the All-Star Game, placed sixth in NL MVP voting, and won his seventh (and final) Silver Slugger Award.
The outfielder only finished with a .372 batting average because he “slumped” over the final two months. Through the end of July, he was flirting with .400 by slashing .391/.428/.592 with 16 home runs. From August 1 to the end of the season, his line dropped to .328/.365/.444 with one homer.
Padres All Time Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here is the rest of San Diego’s top 20 home run hitters in franchise history:
- Wil Myers: 134 (…and counting)
- Ryan Klesko: 133 home runs
- Ken Caminiti: 121
- Manny Machado: 108 (…and counting)
- Hunter Renfroe: 89
- Chase Headley: 87
- Benito Santiago: 85
- Fred McGriff: 84
- Khalil Greene: 84
- Brian Giles: 83
- Carmelo Martinez: 82
- Steve Finley: 82
- Fernando Tatis Jr.: 81 (…and counting)
- Will Venable: 81
- Greg Vaughn: 78
It won’t be long until the top of the Padres’ career home run leaderboard will be reshaped by sluggers on the current roster. If you’d like to see who else falls behind these 20, check it out on FanGraphs.