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(Paul Connors / AP)

MLB’s One-Season Wonders: Mark Loretta and 2004

(Paul Connors / AP)

MLB’s One-Season Wonders: Mark Loretta and 2004

The name Mark Loretta may or may not be entirely familiar to baseball fans throughout the 2000s. The infielder was a journeyman, playing for five different teams during his 15-year career. One season sticks out, however, and that was Loretta’s campaign with the San Diego Padres in 2004.

Before 2004

Loretta established himself as a utility player for the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t hit for power, but steadily got playing time. He was a very solid hitter throughout but never received the credit. This was the late ’90s/early 2000s so power was all anyone could talk about.

After a brief stint with the Houston Astros in 2002, Loretta signed a deal with San Diego the following year. He became their everyday second baseman, hitting .314/.372/.441. This season was great, no doubt, but the real outlier season came in 2004.


The Padres had a fun team in 2004. Sure, they didn’t make the playoffs but San Diego still went a solid 87-75. Mark Loretta was a big reason why.

He crushed NL pitching, setting career highs in all major offensive categories. Loretta batted .335/.391/.495 with 208 hits, 108 runs scored, 138 OPS+, 16 home runs, and 47 doubles. He placed eighth in offensive WAR at 6.0, second in the NL in hits and third in batting average.

As a result, Loretta earned a well-deserved first trip to the All-Star game as well as a Silver Slugger award. Mark even received MVP votes and placed ninth.

After 2004

Sadly, after this dream season, Loretta’s career fell off a bit. He couldn’t replicate the offensive onslaught he displayed in ’04. He never had a season where he had an above-average OPS+ again.

He spent time in Boston, Houston (again), and then finally hung up the cleats after taking a bench role in 2009 with the Dodgers. In the years following his retirement, Mark Loretta spent time coaching with the Cubs and now currently holds the title of a special assistant to the San Diego Padres.


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