The San Diego Padres have a long-held reputation of being a low-tier MLB franchise that is dwarfed by the larger baseball teams in California like the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. In franchise history, the Padres have won two National League Pennant titles, but no World Series titles. To make it worse, San Diego has not made the playoffs since the 2006 season.
Despite their past and present woes, the Padres have had legendary players take the diamond for them, like Tony Gwynn. Of course, there are also former San Diego players who flashed star-level ability for a single season, but never sustained their success.
3. Cito Gaston
Outfielder Cito Gaston started his MLB career with the Atlanta Braves in 1967 where he appeared in nine games as a 23-year-old. He was later selected by the San Diego Padres in the MLB expansion draft when the franchise first came into existence. In his first season in San Diego in 1969, Gaston put up underwhelming numbers with a final batting average of .230 and 28 RBI. The next season, everything came together for Gaston and he absolutely raked at the plate. By the end of the 1970 season, Gaston had a batting average of .318, a career-high 93 RBI, and 23 home runs. Gaston's great season gained him a selection to the All-Star squad. Afterwards, he was unable to reproduce what he had done in 1970, and never made another All-Star team. Gaston was able to play four more seasons with the Padres after his career-best year, and had a long MLB career that lasted until 1978.
2. Chase Headley
Former infielder Chase Headley spent seven full seasons in San Diego and was able to be a solid player for the Padres throughout most of his time there, but his 2012 campaign was his one amazing season with the Pads. Coming into the 2012 MLB season, Headley was fresh off one of his best seasons where he hit for .289 and 44 RBI. It was certainly a good season, but it pales in comparison to what he ended up doing in 2012. He concluded the 2012 season with a .286 batting average, along with 31 home runs and a massive 115 RBI. For his offensive performance, Headley won a Silver Slugger award and finished fifth in National League MVP voting. Headley also impressed out in the infield and won a Gold Glove Award that season as well. Headley later became bogged down by injuries and was traded by the Padres during the 2014 season.
1. Phil Plantier
Phil Plantier started out his MLB career as a Boston Red Sox player, and during the 1991 season, when he played in 53 games for the Red Sox, finished eighth in Rookie of the Year voting. He was not able to replicate his previous success in 1992 and Boston decided to trade Plantier to the San Diego Padres the following offseason. In the 1993 MLB season, Plantier enjoyed playing in a career-high 138 games for the Padres. During that season, Plantier had an unimpressive batting average of .240, but hit 34 home runs, and reached the 100 mark for RBI for the first, and only, time in his career. Afterwards, Plantier returned to the Padres in 1994 where he hit 18 home runs and 41 RBI. Plantier did end up making short-lived returns to San Diego in 1995 and 1997, but never had any sustained success.