2017: 71-91 (fourth place in NL West)
Last Postseason Appearance: 2006
Last World Series Title: HAVE NEVER WON A WORLD SERIES TITLE
The 2017 San Diego Padres were the worst offensive team in the MLB. They finished 27th in walks, 28th in SLG, 29th in OPS, and dead-last in runs, OBP, and hits. According to FanGraphs, Jose Pirela led all San Diego position players in WAR, despite playing just 83 games. Think about that.
Although Wil Myers struck out the sixth most times in the MLB, he also joined Mike Trout as the only two players to hit 30 home runs and steal 20 bases. He led San Diego in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, steals, and walks.
In his rookie season, Manuel Margot finished 6th in NL ROY voting, and seventh in triples. He was one of five rookies since 2008 (Trea Turner, Mike Trout, Andrew Benintendi, Bryce Harper) to hit at least .260, 13 home runs, and finish with at least 17 steals and a .700 OPS.
Much like the offense, the pitching struggled mightily. Among the 15 NL teams, the Padres ranked 10th in walks, 11th in earned runs, and 14th in home runs allowed. On the positive side, Clayton Richard threw two complete games, and Brad Hand had 21 saves with a 2.16 ERA. Hand also struck out 104 batters in just 79.1 innings of work.
2018: Around the Diamond
Fortunately for San Diego fans, the Padres are headed in the right direction. Yes, the last time they made the postseason, Mike Piazza, Mike Cameron, Trevor Hoffman and Los Angeles Dodgers coach Dave Roberts were on the roster, but this team is on the rise.
San Diego made a big splash in February when they signed Eric Hosmer to the largest contract in franchise history. Hosmer is coming off a monster year, in which he finished fifth in hits, eighth in batting average and ninth in times on base. He had career highs in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and hits. The 4x Gold Glove Award winner is a perfect guy to bring in to this team, as he plays hard, and will be a great veteran leader in the clubhouse.
The Padres also brought in third basemen, Chase Headley, and shortstop Freddy Galvis. Headley, who played his first 7.5 years in San Diego, posted a .352 OBP in 2017, which was his best since 2012, the year he finished fifth in NL MVP voting. Galvis has played in 150+ games in each of the last three seasons, including all 162 in 2017. He doesn’t get on-base as much you would hope, but he has good speed and proved he has some pop when he hit 20 home runs in 2016.
The starting second base job is a battle between Carlos Asuaje and Cody Spangenberg. Asuaje is the favorite, as he is hitting .353, with four doubles, three triples, two home runs, and 15 RBIs in 22 Spring Training games. In 2016, in AAA, Asuaje hit .321, with 32 doubles and 11 triples in 134 games. Austin Hedges will start behind the plate, with AJ Ellis getting the occasional start.
Because of a Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on his left elbow, Alex Dickerson will be out all of 2018. This leaves left field up for grabs. Margot will hold down center, while Myers will start in right, but left field will be a battle between Jose Piera, Hunter Renfroe, Francy Cordero, and Travis Jankowski.
Renfroe has five home runs this spring, but has struck out 14 times compared to just two walks. Cordero has a groin injury that is bothering him, which leaves Pierla as the favorite. Pirela is raking this Spring, slashing .444/.509/.689 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 45 at-bats.
On the Bump
San Diego didn’t do much to confront their pitching woes. Clayton Richard will start Opening Day, while Dinelson Lamet is in line to pitch Game 2. Lamet led all Padres starters with a 1.24 WHIP and 10.9 K/9. If he can develop better control, Lamet could be a solid pitcher in this league. Following these two will be Bryan Mitchel and, most likely, Luis Pedromo. The last spot will be a battle between Chris Young, Robbie Erlin, Tyson Ross, and Joey Lucchesi.
Brad Hand will be closing out games, while Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates, Carter Capps, and Phil Maton will all play critical roles throughout the season.
Now, for the fun part. San Diego has a total of SEVEN prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list. Highlighting this list is shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr. (No.8). Tatis Jr. is the future of the Padres at short. He is an offensive beast, who, one day, will be mentioned in the same breath as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Francisco Lindor. In 2017, between A/AA, Tatis Jr hit 22 home runs and stole 32 bases in 131 games. He has eight RBIs in 12 Spring games.
The third overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Mackenzie Gore (No.19), will eventually be the ace of the Padres. A lefty, Gore has a fantastic curveball, with a fastball that hovers around 92-95 MPH. In 21.1 innings of work at Rookie-Level Arizona League, Gore had a 1.27 ERA.
Second basemen, Luis Urias (No.36), should get some playing time as early as this season for San Diego. Urias, who was signed out of the Mexican League in 2013, knows how to get on-base. In 2017, Urias posted a .398 OBP in 118 AA games. This is a top-of-the-order guy who will get plenty of hits and play solid defense.
According to MLB.com, Cal Quantrill (No.40), has the best changeup among all pitching prospects. Quantrill’s fastball can get up to 97 mph, and we should expect to see him in 2019. Another pitcher, Michael Baez, sits two spots behind Quantrill, at No. 42. Baez stands tall at 6’8”, and is a flame thrower who consistently throws in the mid-90s. In 63.2 innings between R/A, Baez went 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA and a .83 WHIP. He also had 89 punch outs. If he keeps it up, Baez could be a star at the MLB level.
Two more pitchers round out San Diego’s top prospects, lefty Adrian Morejon (No.50), and Anderson Espinoza (No.89). Espinoza missed all of last season because of Tommy John Surgery, but was highly touted out of Venezuela, and was acquired from Boston in the Drew Pomeranz trade.
2018 Prediction: 72-90
While they will most likely finish last in the tough NL West, San Diego is clearly built for success down the road. They have a plethora of young arms who will hopefully blossom into quality starters, as well as guys like Tatis Jr and Luis Urias, who look to be studs at the big-league level.
Featured image by MLB.com
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