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Best Single-Game Hitting Performances in Padres History

I’ve had this on my to-do list for a while. Now’s as good a time as any…

Using Baseball-Reference’s Play Index tool, I found the top 300 single-game performances by Padres hitters as measured by RE24 and WPA. One of these measures runs, the other wins… so they’re not on the same scale. It makes no sense to add the two figures (just as it makes no sense to add OBP and SLG to create OPS), but I like the idea of having a context-dependent component and a context-independent component.

Because RE24 and WPA are on different scales, I chose to adjust the values so they would have equal weight. The best Padres hitting performance as measured by RE24 is 6.851. The best as measured by WPA is 1.054. Divide 6.851 by 1.054 and you get 6.5, so that is our multiplier. In other words, we multiply every WPA by 6.5 to put it on the same scale as RE24. Then we add the two numbers, i.e., RE24 + 6.5 * WPA, to get a mess that roughly answers our question.

Like OPS, it isn’t elegant but it works well enough to give us a starting point for discussion. Although there may be better methods of determining this sort of thing, I’m comfortable with the current one for now. We’re not definitively answering the most meaningful questions on the planet here, we’re just having fun… with numbers.

Top 10 by RE24

Player               Date Opp Result  AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K  RE24  WPA OPS+
Ken Caminiti     09/19/95 Col W 15-4   4 2 4  1  0  2   8  1 0 6.851 .238 137
Bubba Trammell   08/23/02 Fla W 18-2   5 4 4  0  0  2   4  0 0 6.686 .362 105
Nate Colbert     08/01/72 Atl W 11-7   4 4 3  0  0  3   8  1 0 6.445 .201 145
Brian Giles      05/17/06 Ari W 14-10  6 2 4  1  0  1   7  0 0 6.193 .420 107
Benito Santiago  09/13/91 SF  W 13-2   5 3 5  1  0  1   5  0 0 5.981 .244  93
Bobby Tolan      07/17/74 Phi W 15-1   4 3 3  0  0  2   6  0 1 5.979 .211 101
Cito Gaston      05/23/70 SF  W 17-16  5 3 3  0  0  1   3  4 0 5.888 .466 144
John Kruk        08/04/87 Atl L  7-12  5 2 3  0  0  2   7  0 0 5.505 .268 140
Ramon Hernandez  09/27/05 SF  W  9-6   4 1 2  0  1  1   7  0 1 5.400 .669 107
Ryan Klesko      05/21/01 Hou W  7-6   3 3 3  0  0  2   5  1 0 5.386 .702 145

Note: OPS+ is for season in which game occurred; all other stats are for game in question.

  • These tend not to be hugely clutch performances, with most coming in blowouts.
  • Klesko has the highest WPA (.702) among the players on the RE24 list.
  • What’s up with that 17-16 game against the Giants in 1970?

Top 10 by WPA

Player               Date Opp Result  AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K   WPA  RE24 OPS+
Steve Finley     09/10/96 Pit W  6-5   5 2 4  1  0  1   3  0 0 1.054 1.677 135
Johnny Jeter     08/21/72 ChN W  6-5   3 1 2  0  0  1   3  2 1  .928  .459  71
Mark Parent      09/28/88 LA  W  2-1   1 1 1  0  0  1   2  0 0  .914  .000  72
Bip Roberts      07/25/91 Mtl W  6-5   5 3 3  0  0  1   2  0 0  .910  .912  92
Dave Winfield    07/23/79 Phi W  6-5   5 1 4  0  0  1   3  0 0  .870 2.299 166
Carmelo Martinez 06/10/88 LA  W  4-3   1 0 1  1  0  0   2  0 0  .844  .000 106
Scott Hairston   08/03/07 SF  W  4-3   3 2 2  0  0  2   4  0 0  .828 2.364  94
Joe Lefebvre     09/13/82 LA  L  3-4   8 1 6  1  0  1   2  0 0  .821 4.354  77
Ron Gant         08/08/02 Phi W  7-4   5 1 3  0  1  1   4  0 0  .813 1.492 125
Carmelo Martinez 09/14/86 Hou W  3-2   1 1 1  0  0  1   2  0 0  .804  .000 101

Note: OPS+ is for season in which game occurred; all other stats are for game in question.

  • Parent’s pinch-homer ended one of the great Padres pitchers duels.
  • Martinez is the only player to make either list twice, and he does so both times as a pinch-hitter.
  • Jeter just misses joining Martinez, placing 11th on the WPA list.
  • Lefebvre has the highest RE24 (4.354) of any of the players on the WPA list.

Top 11 by Mess (RE24 + 6.5 * WPA)

Player          Date      Mess  RE24  Rk   WPA  Rk
Ryan Klesko     05/21/01 9.949 5.386  10  .702  32
Ramon Hernandez 09/27/05 9.749 5.400   9  .669  45
Joe Lefebvre    09/13/82 9.691 4.354  55  .821   8
Reggie Sanders  08/27/99 9.351 4.989  18  .671  43
Bubba Trammell  08/23/02 9.039 6.686   2  .362 N/A
Brian Giles     05/17/06 8.923 6.193   4  .420 N/A
Cito Gaston     05/23/70 8.917 5.888   7  .466 269
Dave Kingman    07/03/77 8.674 5.027  15  .561 129
Dave Winfield   06/10/78 8.554 4.719  34  .590  91
Steve Finley    09/10/96 8.528 1.677 N/A 1.054   1
Ken Caminiti    09/19/95 8.398 6.851   1  .238 N/A

Note: I went to 11 for this one so we could include both Caminiti’s monster RE24 game and Finley’s monster WPA game.

There you have it: one man’s idea of the best single-game offensive performances in Padres history. One of these days, we’ll look at the pitchers…

* * *

  • Selig: Moorad’s stake in D-backs sold (MLB.com). Up until last week, Jeff Moorad still owned 8% of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Like the rest of us, now he’ll have to admire Geoff Blum and his hair from afar.
  • Forsythe brings versatility, fresh mindset (Padres.com). Logan Forsythe has been getting some looks at shortstop this spring. He isn’t super young (24), but I remain cautiously optimistic about his chances to contribute in some way.
  • MLB Integration, 1947 to 1986 (SABR Baseball Biography Project). Terrific stuff from Mark Armour: “In 1965 when black players made up 20% of major league players, they accounted for 28% of the value, a huge difference when considering the size of the pool.”
  • Why the Game Needs More Story, Less Sabermetrics (Bleacher Report). MLB official historian John Thorn pens a curious piece that includes this curious passage:

    OK, maybe Abe Lincoln did not urge Abner Doubleday with his dying breath to “keep baseball alive; America will need it in the trying days ahead.” So what?

    Frankly, in today’s baseball writing I miss such Sternian balderdash: the wink and the nudge of a Barnum or the tall-tale bluster of a Davy Crockett. Amid today’s mix of straight-on account and sabermetric analysis, I miss the fun.

    So, when did analysis and fun become mutually exclusive? And why would we sacrifice one in favor of the other? Craig Calcaterra offers his thoughts

    The point of any worthwhile sabermetric analysis is to answer a human question, not to traffic in numbers for numbers’ sake.

    Amen, brother. Answering human questions is a worthwhile endeavor. So is having fun, as I hope we did above when we examined the best single-game hitting performances in Padres history. Lots of good stories right there, I’d imagine.

  • T-Padres go old school with uniforms (Ballpark Digest). The Tucson Padres have unveiled their caps and unis. Beautiful.
  • Why We Have Halls of Fame (Joe Blogs). Former Padres Darrell May (yuck) and Joe Randa (yuck) show up here, as does USD alum John Wathan (not yuck) and a few personal faves (Al Cowens, Bo Jackson, Darrell Porter).
  • Who’s the greatest living player for each team? (HardballTalk). See, here’s another “fun” discussion that benefits from use of statistics. Interesting list… I agree with most, but would go with Jim Thome for the Indians, Nolan Ryan for the Angels, Mike Piazza or Sandy Koufax for the Dodgers (tough call), and Luis Gonzalez for the D’backs. Craig Biggio probably deserves some love for the Astros, too… Honestly, this is harder than you might think.

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9 Responses »

  1. Have you done these projections correctly? I don’t see Joe Randa’s name anywhere.

  2. maybe the Padres should have kept him after all:

    http://baseballmusings.com/?p=65490

  3. geez, what happened to Drew now? oh, wait, it’s not about him:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-12777166

  4. If that 17-16 game is the one I’m thinking of, it was a glorious mess. Marichal started for the Giants; I don’t remember who pitched for the Padres. The game featured, among other things, an infield double (a pop-up that the Candlestick wind blew away from Marichal), and was won by a solo homer by Steve Huntz in the top of the 15th.

  5. Amazing that Tony Gwynn didn’t make any of the lists. Just for the hell of it, I would have included Tony’s 3 for 3 night: Triple, Homer, Double, and then pulled by Bochy before Tony could get a single for the Padres’ first cycle.

  6. @Jim: Thanks for the additional info. An infield double, eh? I may have to look that game up on microfilm the next time I’m down at Central Library.

    @Larry: Gwynn came close. Here are his best:

    RE24

    Rk     Date Opp Result  AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K  RE24  WPA
    50 09/23/83 Cin W 11-8   3 3 2  0  0  1   3  2 0 4.409 .530

    WPA

    Rk     Date Opp Result  AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K  RE24  WPA
    20 06/21/86 LA  W  8-7   6 2 4  0  0  0   1  1 0 3.470 .757

    That second game is no. 12 on the combined RE24 + 6.5 * WPA list.

    Gwynn’s near-cycle occurred on June 10, 1993. It checks in at no. 147 according to RE24, falls outside of the top 300 according to WPA (the Padres won, 14-2, so not much drama in terms of game outcome), and ranks 273rd by the combined score. Of course, the metric doesn’t know that history could have been made…

  7. Rather than “Best Single Game”, the Padres have had 2 “Best Day” performances …

    I was at Busch Stadium when Nate Colbert hit 5 HRs during a DH in Atlanta …

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL197208011.shtml

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL197208012.shtml

    And I was at Candlestick when Mike Ivie hit 5 doubles during these DH games …

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN197705301.shtml

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN197705302.shtml

    I used to LOVE to go to the Padres/Giants double-headers at Candlestick every year … remember when DH meant something good :-)

  8. If you don’t like “Mess” (which I do), how about “Big Mess” …

    Big Mess = SQRT(RE24^2 + (6.5 * WPA)^2)

    … it bubbles Bubba’s game to the top … and you gotta admit, Bubba created a Big Mess that day!

    Player Date Mess RE24 Rk WPA Rk 6.5*WPA Big Mess
    Bubba Trammell 8/23/2002 9.039 6.686 2 0.362 N/A 2.353 7.087961978
    Ryan Klesko 5/21/2001 9.949 5.386 10 0.702 32 4.563 7.059034282
    Steve Finley 9/10/1996 8.528 1.677 N/A 1.054 1 6.851 7.053263784
    Ken Caminiti 9/19/1995 8.398 6.851 1 0.238 N/A 1.547 7.023489873
    Ramon Hernandez 9/27/2005 9.749 5.4 9 0.669 45 4.3485 6.933213703
    Joe Lefebvre 9/13/1982 9.691 4.354 55 0.821 8 5.3365 6.887346967
    Brian Giles 5/17/2006 8.923 6.193 4 0.42 N/A 2.73 6.76802401
    Reggie Sanders 8/27/1999 9.351 4.989 18 0.671 43 4.3615 6.626673619
    Cito Gaston 5/23/1970 8.917 5.888 7 0.466 269 3.029 6.621433757
    Dave Kingman 7/3/1977 8.674 5.027 15 0.561 129 3.6465 6.210289144
    Dave Winfield 6/10/1978 8.554 4.719 34 0.59 91 3.835 6.080804716
    Tony Gwynn 6/21/1986 8.3905 3.47 0.757 4.9205 6.020981668
    Tony Gwynn 9/23/1983 7.854 4.409 0.53 3.445 5.595293201

    I was hoping it’d get one of Gwynn’s games into the Top 10 … but it didn’t.

  9. No Tony????