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Untapped Potential: Chase Headley

Chase Headley had one of the most memorable seasons in a Padres uniform in 2012. But did he ever live up to his newfound expectations?

Many Padres fans remember Chase Headley as a staple during constantly disappointing seasons. As a member of the Padres for 12 years, he would only be a part of two seasons above .500.

Of course, with records like that, it’s hard to find a player on those teams putting up numbers to be in the MVP conversation. Chase Headley would be the exception with his 2012 season.

2007 – 2011

Going into the 2007 season Chase Headley was widely regarded to be a top-five prospect in the Padres organization. At the time, San Diego’s farm system was similarly thin to its state today. He would go on to make his MLB debut in June of 2007

Headley was not known to be a top player in any one aspect of the game.

It would be fair to say that he had average numbers in his first five seasons in the majors. Headley sat with a slash line of .296/.343/.392 and a .735 OPS. He also had 506 hits, 36 home runs, 204 RBIs and 217 runs in that span.

At this point the most home runs he had hit in a season was 12 in 2009. Headley also never hit more than 70 RBIs in a season in this time frame.

He accumulated 8.1 oWAR in that time frame. Up to this point he had not won any awards.

What would happen in 2012 is something nobody saw coming.

2012 Breakout

The 2012 MLB season is a memorable one for the Padres. Maybe not because of their 76-86 record but because of one player’s performance.

In April Chase Headley started slow, only hitting for a .230 batting average, with just two home runs and 12 RBIs. He followed up in May–foreshadowing what we would see the rest of the season–by hitting .308, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs.

The rest of the season would be nothing shorts of amazing. He would end with a slash line of .286/.376/.498 and an OPS of .875, which all ended up being career highs.

Not to mention he secured career highs in hits (173), home runs (31), runs (95), total bases (301) and a league leading 115 RBIs.

Headley would also go on to collect a few awards. He was named National League Offensive Player of the Month in both August and September. He finished fifth in MVP voting as well as bringing home a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.

At just 28 years old, the Padres looked like they might have finally developed a franchise player they had been so desperately needing.

2013 – 2018, the Decline of Chase Headley

2013 would be the final full season for Headley on the Padres. He certainly regressed in performance. foreshadowing rest of his career.

His numbers would drop to .250/.347/.400 with only 13 home runs, 50 RBIs, and 59 runs in 2013. That line was still above average but far from star caliber.

Just before the trade deadline in 2014 the Padres dealt Headley to the Yankees. San Diego was below .500 at the time while the Yanks were fighting for a Wild Card spot. Headley would remain in the Bronx through the 2017 season.

His time with the Yankees was nothing remarkable. In his four years in New York, he hit .262/.339/.387. He hit just 43 home runs, 191 RBIs, 437 hits and accumulated 7.7 oWAR in 1750 at-bats.

2018 is where he would come home to San Diego to finish his career. Unfortunately, he was able to play in only 27 games. He would finish his career with a 25.9 WAR, with 6.9 of it coming in 2012.

After his incredible 2012 season we would never see Headley collect another award or All-Star appearance in his career.  He was more than just a one-season wonder, but it is still disappointing that he never came close to repeating that performance.

For Padres fan though, he will always be remembered as a beacon of hope in a time of mediocrity.

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