Top 100 San Diego Padres: #93 Leron Lee
LERON LEE | LF/RF | 1971-1973 | CAREER
Leron Lee is Derrek Lee’s uncle.
To be fair, Derrek’s uncle had a career not entirely devoid of distinction. He was a prospect of note after signing with the Cardinals as the seventh pick in the 1966 draft. He reached the majors at age 21, and was seeing semi-regular duty by the following season. Despite his rapid ascension through the ranks, his primary attributes to that point were his outstanding athleticism (more applicable to football, a sport in which he was a high school star), and the fact that he looked good in a uniform.
His performance on the diamond failing to endear him to the organization, the Cards packaged the uncle of Derrek Lee with Fred Norman in a June, 1971 swap with the Padres for a guy named Al Santorini. That the Pads could pull off such a brilliant transaction, yet remain one of the worst clubs in history, continues to perplex. The fact remains, however, that they could, and that they did.
Upon donning the Padre urine-yellow-and-brown, Leron (he’s Derrek Lee’s uncle, you know…) made like his unborn nephew, and hit. He finished the ’71 campaign by posting an OPS+ of 107 with the Padres, a harbinger of the fluke season that he would enjoy the following year.
To call Lee’s 1972 season an outlier would be something of an understatement. He compiled career highs in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, batting average, OBP, and slugging. His OPS+ of 125 at the tender age of 24 stamped him as an upcoming star.
Stardom, however, would not come to pass for Leron Lee (unlike his nephew Derrek). He apparently remembered that he was a Padre, rather than a major league ballplayer. Nineteen-seventy-three saw his OBP drop nearly 50 points, while his slugging percentage dropped a full 200 points. The Friar front office, having seen enough, put Lee on waivers in March of 1974.
Claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians, he continued his new trend of being a crappy player on a crappy team. No matter, as Leron Lee will always have 1972. Plus, he's Derrek Lee’s uncle. I’m sure he’s proud of that, too. And making our Top 100 is quite a feather in his cap, as well. Did I mention that Derrek Lee is his nephew? Well, he is, and he’s really good.