San Diego Padres: Top Five Seasons in Franchise History

While they have yet to win a World Series title, the San Diego Padres have quite a history. Join us as we relive the five greatest seasons in franchise history.

The national media has a tendency to only remember the poor San Diego Padres‘ seasons. But there are those of us out there who still remember when our beloved baseball team was one of the league’s best.

Friars on Base has gotten quite tired of the same old narrative when it comes to the Padres. Too often are they brushed under the rug, or even ridiculed for the unfortunate trend that is six consecutive losing seasons.

So, we decided to revisit the seasons which San Diego ought to be remembered for. Fans can once again remember the glory days by taking a trip down memory lane with us. Here are the top five seasons in franchise history.

Apr 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres former pitcher Trevor Hoffman throws batting practice before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

5. 2005 (82-80, NL West Champions)

It was an ugly year for the NL West, one of the ugliest in history. Though each team struggled, the Padres came out on top, barely beating the .500 mark.

Clearly, this season wasn’t the fifth best in terms of games won. But the season was thrilling for fans as they squeaked out a captivating division race, ousting the Diamondbacks by five games.

Jake Peavy was one of the best starters in the game during this year, earning the most strikeouts in the National League. Trevor Hoffman was also enjoying a wonderful season, finishing with 43 saves and an ERA under 3.

The playoffs were ugly, as the Padres were swept by the Cardinals in the first round in three games. But the season was still a very memorable one, as the team made the most of what they had. Even without a superstar in the lineup, a division title gave the team a chance to go to the playoffs for the first time since their magical 1998 run. For this reason, 2005 was one of the more exciting years in recent memory.

Aug 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres president Ron Fowler (R) presents the family of former third baseman Ken Caminiti with a plaque honoring his induction into the Padres Hall of Fame from left to right Lindse,y Nicole, Nancy, and Kendall Caminiti at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

4. 1996 (91-71, NL West Champions)

In his second season as manager in San Diego, Bruce Bochy led the Padres to a 91-71 record and an NL West title. With an explosive lineup and adequate pitching, the team was coming together right in front of our very eyes.

Not only was this a spectacular year as far as wins go, it was incredible for San Diego players individually. Most notably, Ken Caminiti won the National League MVP Award, hitting 40 home runs. Tony Gwynn was also enjoying an unbelievable year for a 36-year-old, hitting a league high .353.

All of these amazing individual efforts manifested in a division title, marking the first playoff appearance since 1984.

Unfortunately, the postseason did not go well, as the team was swept in three games in the NLDS against the Cardinals. But at this point, fans were excited about the future, and for good reason. Their playoff experience proved valuable later on, and there was an incredible sense of optimism surrounding the organization.

Jul 24, 2016; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Fame Inductee Mike Piazza makes his acceptance speech during the 2016 MLB baseball hall of fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

3. 2006 (88-74, NL West Champions)

2006 was much like 2005 as far as the makeup of San Diego’s roster. However, unlike the previous year, the Padres clinched the division on the final day of the year, and in dramatic fashion.

With an 88-74 record, San Diego improved by six wins over their 2005 campaign. But instead of taking the division comfortably, they needed to rely on their winning record against the Dodgers to break a tie.

But with the team winning the division in the final day, fans will always remember the epic finish and second straight playoff appearance.

For the third time to date, the Padres ended up falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason. This time, it was by a final of three games to one. While they weren’t swept in this one, it was pretty much equally disappointing. This season however was still a magical one, and remains the best in recent memory.

Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres former closer Trevor Hoffman throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2. 1998 (98-64, NL West Champions)

Not only did San Diego have their best team in franchise history in 1998, they also came away with some of the club’s most memorable results. Their latest of two penant-winning campaigns, 1998 remains the franchise’s

The Padres had more wins in this year than in any other, totaling 105 when the postseason is included.

After running away with the NL West crown, the Padres tore through the National League playoffs. Defeating the Houston Astros in four games in the NLDS and the Atlanta Braves in six in the NLCS, an epic World Series matchup was set up.

Unfortunately, the New York Yankees had one of the best teams in MLB history in ’98, winning 114 games. Though the Padres came close in two of the four games, they were unable to avoid a sweep at the hands of New York.

Still, 1998 is a season to remember. With Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman on the same roster, the team had more star power than just about anybody. But it wasn’t just about Hoffman and Gwynn, as many remember. Greg Vaughn hit 50 bombs that year, and the team’s supporting cast was strong as well. Ken Caminiti, Wally Joyner, and Steve Finley provided the team with a gritty attitude which could have easily won it all.

Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; A general view of a statue of former San Diego Padres player Tony Gwynn during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

1. 1984 (92-70, NL West Champions)

The only reason 1984 edges out 1998 is the memorable ways in which San Diego won games. The feeling surrounding the club was one of a never quit attitude. This was reflected in the way the team finished games and ended up coming just shy of a World Series title.

If this list were to rank most talented San Diego teams, or best years record wise, ’98 would get the nod. But that’s too boring. This is about the most memorable seasons in franchise history, the ones which remain in fans’ minds as magical memories.

Nothing was more memorable than Steve Garvey‘s walkoff homer in game four of the NLCS. This forced a decisive game five against the Chicago Cubs, which the Padres won again with a late-inning rally. Overcoming a three run deficit and winning 6-3, San Diego had clinched their first penant.

Despite their 4-1 defeat in the World Series at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, this season proved to be the most memorable. Gwynn was only just beginning a twenty year Hall of Fame career in San Diego, and the team surrounding him was electric. This also served as the only year in which the Padres won a World Series game. This came in game two, when the club rallied with a three run fifth and won 5-3 at the old Jack Murphy Stadium.

All factors considered, 1984 was the wildest and most exciting season in Padres’ history. The attitude surrounding the organization was unparalleled, which is why an unlikely NL champion was able to break through.

What does your list look like? Let us know in the comments section below.

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