Tony Gwynn: A look back at Mr. Padre's career

Chris Trotman

Tony Gwynn, a San Diego Padres legend, lost his fight with cancer on June 16, but his career will not be soon forgotten.

Yesterday, baseball lost a great man in Tony Gwynn at the age of 54. With a career that spanned 20 years from 1982 to 2001, he set records and his legacy as a Padre will live on. Gwynn recorded a career 4.2% K%, putting him 12th lowest on the all-time list for players with over 10,000 at-bats. He would take approximately 21.40 at-bats per one strikeout over his career — 92nd on the all-time list. If that wasn't enough, he lead the National League in at-bats per strikeout for 10 years.

Year AB per K%
1984 26.3
1989 20.1
1990 24.9
1991 27.9
1992 32.5
1994 22.1
1995 35.7
1996 26.5
1997 21.1
1998 25.6

For 1996, Baseball Reference says that "the stat's value indicates the player had fewer than the required number of at bats or plate appearances for the BA, OBP, SLG, or OPS title that year. In order to rank the player, the necessary number of hitless at bats were added to the player's season total. The value printed here is their actual value and not the value used to rank them", it's still a noteworthy thing for Gwynn to have done. It's easy for a player to strike out — many players this season have a higher K% than BB%. But for Gwynn? It's the other way around with that 4.2% K% and a BB% of 7.7%.

Gwynn could hit and hit and hit — he had the numbers to show for it, too. A career batting line of .338/.388/.459, an OPS of .847, and a BABIP of .341, with his career best batting line for a season at .394/.454/.586 from a strike-shortened 1994. In a sport where you hope a hitter can maintain maybe a .280-.290 average for the season, Gwynn would exceed expectations and — save for his rookie year — and consistently hit over .300.

The way Gwynn's career ran was certainly worthy of his 2007 Hall of Fame induction. He carried a 68.8 bWAR, 65.0 fWAR, 678 RAR, and an RE24 of 538.318 as his career totals.

Tony Gwynn had the talent and was — is, even — valued greatly by the San Diego Padres and its community of fans. He's certainly one whose name will be remembered for a long time.

. . .

All statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

Jen Mac Ramos is a contributor for Beyond the Box Score and The Hardball Times. You can follow her on twitter at @jnmcrms.

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