Blog by: @captnjack24
Former San Diego State Aztec and San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn passed away this morning at the age of 54. I could sit here and pretend that I covered or knew Tony Gwynn and that the character or person he was far out performed the phenomenal baseball player he was, but I wouldn’t know that personally.
Instead I am going to talk about the impact he had on baseball and the kind special player he was during his time in the majors.
Seldom is Tony Gwynn talked about among the great hitters of all time, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, they all get more attention than Gwynn. But Gwynn just may be a top 5 hitter of all time. He was an 8-time National League batting champion, including 4 in a row at a time when the league consisted of hitters like Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, , Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, etc. In the strike shortened season of ’94 Gwynn finished with a .394 batting average, by far the closest to the elusive .400 that has not been reached since Ted Williams did so in 1941. Gwynn only batted under .300 one time in his career, his rookie season in which he only appeared in 54 games, he batted .289. He was never known as a power hitter, in his final full season in 1997 Gwynn finished with a .372 average, 17 home runs, 119 RBI, and 28 Strikeouts. To put Gwynn’s ability to not strikeout in perspective, a great contact hitter of our era is Derek Jeter. Jeter, on average, strikes out 109 times per 162 games. Gwynn’s career average per 162 games was 29.
Perhaps his most impressive stat was his ability to hit the great pitchers of his generation. Against Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez, Gwynn batted .373 with only 3 Ks. Against a familiar foe Curt Schilling? .390. Gwynn was a legend by all accounts.
Gwynn never left his home in San Diego, he was loyal to them. Him and Junior Seau were truly the two sons of San Diego at the time, now both are gone too young. A perfect quote I read from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports this morning was a text Michael Young had sent him saying, “Ted Williams gets to talk hitting again.”
Rest in Peace Tony.
Top 5 Hitters All-Time
1. Ted Williams
2. Barry Bonds
3. Babe Ruth
4. Mickey Mantle
5a. Tony Gwynn
5b. Ken Griffey Jr.