Five stellar San Diego southpaws

Five stellar San Diego southpaws

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

I've identified my top Padres at every position. Now it's time to move my lists to the mound. And I'm going to change the rules a bit.

I'm going to split pitching into four classes -- left-handed starters, right-handed starters, closers and mid-game relievers. I'm also going to list 10 right-handed starters and five left-handed starters.

Why the distinction between right-handed and left-handed starters? Honestly, it's a bit of a cop-out. I didn't want to face picking one pitcher over another for the top spot on my list. Hey, my lists, my rules.

Here's a review of my top picks for the other eight positions. Remember, they are based on just what they did as Padres at their most-played position:

1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Mark Loretta
SS: Garry Templeton
3B: Ken Caminiti
C: Benito Santiago
LF: Gene Richards
CF: Steve Finley
RF: Tony Gwynn

And now, my Top 5 left-handed starting pitchers:

1. Randy Jones (1973-1980)
The first of four Padres pitchers to win the National League Cy Young Award, Jones dominated hitters with his devastating sinker before an elbow injury shortened his career. Jones pitched eight seasons for the Padres during the club's formative years and went 92-105 with a 3.30 earned run average. Jones' 92 wins are tied for second on the Padres all-time list with Peavy. He is the Padres' all-time leader in starts (253), innings pitched (1,766), losses (105), complete games (71) and shutouts (18). He holds franchise single-season records for wins (22), starts (40), innings pitched (315 1/3) and complete games (25) and fifth in ERA. En route to the Cy Young Award in 1976, Jones went 22-14 with a 2.74 ERA in 40 starts, which included the 25 complete games and six shutouts. He also led the NL that season in wins, starts, complete games, innings pitched and had the lowest WHIP among qualifying starters, allowing only 1.027 runners to reach base an inning. In addition to winning the Cy Young Award, he finished 10th in the NL Most Valuable Player voting. A two-time All-Star, Jones was the winning pitcher in the 1976 All-Star Game while being the first Padre to ever start an All-Star Game. His 16 wins before the All-Star Game that season set an NL record. Jones had a 20.8 WAR as a Padre.

2. Bruce Hurst (1989-1993)
Hurst had a 55-38 record and a 3.27 ERA with the Padres in 131 starts over just more than 4 1Ž2 seasons. His .591 winning percentage is the highest in Padres history and his ERA ranks third among qualifying starters. Hurst also ranks fourth on the Padres' all-time charts in shutouts (10), fifth in complete games (29), sixth in lowest opponents' batting average (.244), eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (6.08) and tied for ninth in wins. Hurst had 14 or more wins in three of his four full seasons with the Padres. He led the NL with four shutouts in 1990 and with 10 complete games in 1989. Hurst's WAR as a Padre was 15.2. The Padres signed Hurst as a free agent on Dec. 8, 1988, and traded Hurst and pitcher Greg Harris to the Colorado Rockies on July 26, 1993, for pitchers Andy Ashby and Doug Bochtler and catcher Brad Ausmus.

3. Dave Dravecky (1982-1987)
Dravecky had a 53-50 record and a 3.12 ERA in 199 games (119) starts in 5 1Ž2 seasons with the Padres. He was selected to the 1983 NL All-Star team during a 14-10 season with a 3.58 ERA in 28 starts. During the Padres' 1984 NL title season, Dravecky was 9-8 with a 2.93 ERA with 36 of his 50 appearances coming out of the bullpen. He then pitched 10 2/3 scoreless innings in the post-season, allowing five hits and a walk against 10 strikeouts. Dravecky returned to the rotation fulltime in 1985 and won 13 games. Acquired from the Pirates in a 1981 trade for a Minor Leaguer, Dravecky's career ERA is second behind only Trevor Hoffman on the all-time Padres list among qualifying pitchers. He ranks fifth on the Padres' all-time lists in opponents' batting average (.243), sixth in complete games (23), tied for eighth in shutouts (six), ninth in winning percentage (.515) and 11th in wins. Dravecky had a 12.4 WAR as a Padre. Dravecky was traded to the Giants on July 5, 1987, with pitcher Craig Lefferts and infielder Kevin Mitchell for infielder Chris Brown and pitchers Mark Davis, Mark Grant and Keith Comstock. Dravecky's career ended tragically with San Francisco. In 1988, a cancerous mass was discovered in his pitching arm. A year later, the humerus bone in his arm snapped while pitching, the return of the cancer ending his career.

4. Sterling Hitchcock (1997-2001, 2004)
Hitchcock was only 34-42 with a 4.47 ERA in 122 games (106 starts) for the Padres. But his post-season play in 1998 puts him on this list. Hitchcock was voted the Most Valuable Player of the NL Championship Series, leading the Padres to their second NL pennant. Hitchcock was 3-0 in three starts in the NL playoffs. He allowed two runs on eight hits and eight walks with 25 strikeouts in 16 innings for a 1.13 ERA. He also made one start against the Yankees in the World Series and got no decision, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over seven innings. During the regular 1998 season, Hitchcock was 9-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 39 appearances (27 starts). He was 12-14 with the Padres in 1999 with a 4.11 ERA in 33 starts. The Padres acquired Hitchcock on Dec. 6, 1996, from Seattle in exchange for pitcher Scott Sanders. He was traded to the Yankees on July 30, 2001, for a pair of minor leaguers. Hitchcock had a 6.4 WAR as a Padre.

5. Dave A. Roberts (1969-1971)
One of three players named Dave Roberts to play for the Padres. I give Dave A. the nod as the No. 5 left-handed starter in Padres history over Tim Lollar (36-42 with a 4.07 ERA and one of the top hitting pitchers in Padres history) and Fred Norman (13-30 with a 3.55 ERA in three seasons as a Padre). Roberts was the 20th player selected by the Padres in the draft to stock the Major League expansion team. In three seasons with the Padres, Roberts had a 22-34 record and a 2.99 ERA in 102 games (60 starts). But he bordered on the sensational at times. In 1971, Roberts was 14-17 with a 2.10 ERA in 37 games (34 starts) for a team that won only 61 games. The ERA remains the lowest single-season ERA in Padres history. Roberts allowed 238 hits and 61 walks in 269 2/3 innings for a 1.109 WHIP. He finished sixth in the National League Cy Young Award voting and 24th in the Most Valuable Player voting. In three seasons with the Padres, Roberts had a 10.0 WAR. On Dec. 3, 1971, the Padres traded Roberts to Houston for three players, including starting pitcher Bill Greif and starting infielder Derrel Thomas.