2018 MLB preview: San Diego Padres

2017: 71-91 (fourth place in NL West)

Last Postseason Appearance: 2006

Last World Series Title: HAVE NEVER WON A WORLD SERIES TITLE

2017 Recap

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.

Wil Myers and Mike Trout were the only two players to post a 30HR-20SB season in 2017. (Sporting News)

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.

Hosmer signed the biggest deal in Padres franchise history. (MLB.com)

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.

The Future

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.

Tatis Jr is a future star at SS (East Village Times)

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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One hit wonder MLB seasons

One-hit wonder MLB seasons since 2000

In Major League Baseball, players often breakout seemingly out of nowhere. The question then follows: Will their production continue, or will they simply fade away back to obscurity?

Methodology

In music, the term “one-hit wonder” refers to an artist who creates a song that ranks on the Billboard’s national top 40 list, while failing to recreate another with the same level of success. In baseball, we can label a player as a “one-hit wonder” if they experience a breakout season and are unable to recreate anywhere near the same level of success. In this case, success can be measured in accolades and wins above replacement player, or WAR.

For hitters, we will look at statistics like offensive WAR and accolades like MVP candidacy, Silver Slugger awards and All-Star appearances. For pitchers, we will assess the same group of statistics and awards, while also looking at Cy Young candidacies.

The main criteria used to compile the following list includes a blatant discrepancy between a player’s total career WAR and their WAR over a specific breakout season. Yearly awards are also taken into consideration, as a player can be considered a one-hit wonder if they finish within the top-25 voting for most valuable player, or MVP, while failing to ever do so again.

The following players combined make up the all “one-hit wonder” MLB team of the 2000’s. Note that being on this list does not mean the player had a bad career, but means they had a season that was a blatant anomaly.

Honorable mentions include: Angel Berroa (2003), Morgan Ensberg (2005) and Dontrelle Willis (2005)

Paul Lo Duca, Catcher, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2001

2001 Stats 125 G 25 HR 90 RBI 71 R .320/.374/.548
162 Game Avg. 162 G 12 HR 72 RBI 72 R .286/.337/.409
One hit wonder MLB seasons

Paul Lo Duca may be a three time All-Star from 2003-2006, but his most productive season came in 2001. (Photo by Getty Images)

Lo Duca was a 25th round draft pick by the Dodgers in 1993. He grinded through the minors, playing a total of 718 games at three different minor league levels.

He expected to get a shot at the everyday catcher’s job in 1998 after the Dodgers traded away arguably the greatest hitting catcher of all time, Mike Piazza, to the Florida Marlins.

Although this was not the case, as the Dodgers received catcher Charles Johnson in return. This delayed Lo Duca’s first full MLB season until 2001.

In 2001, Lo Duca showed out, batting .320 while hitting a career-high 25 home runs with 90 RBIs in only 125 games. His offensive WAR measured 4.2, which was considerably higher than any other season, as his second-highest offensive WAR came the following season at 2.9.

Although Lo Duca made four consecutive All-Star appearances from 2003-2006, 2001 was the only season where he ranked within the top-25 in National League MVP voting at 19.

 

Darin Erstad, First Baseman, Anaheim Angels, 2000

2000 Stats 157 G 25 HR 100 RBI 121 R 28 SB .355/.409/.541
162 Game Avg. 162 G 12 HR 68 RBI 89 R 18 SB .282/.336/.407

Erstad may be one of the most obvious MLB players to have a one-hit wonder season. After being selected as the first overall pick in the 1995 draft by the California Angels, Erstad made a quick jump to the majors in 1996 after playing in only 143 games at four different minor league levels.

Erstad’s breakout came in 2000, as he managed to bat a miraculous .355 while hitting 25 home runs, scoring 121 runs and setting an MLB-record for most RBIs by a leadoff hitter with 100. It looks as if this record will be shattered by either the Houston Astros George Springer or the Colorado Rockies Charlie Blackmon this season, although it remains incredible feat either way.

In his 26-year-old season, Erstad ranked eighth in American League MVP voting while also being named an AL All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner. His offensive WAR during this season totaled 5.6, which accounted for over 30 percent of his total offensive WAR over his 14-year career.

Junior Spivey, Second Baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks, 2002 

2002 Stats 143 G 16 HR 78 RBI 103 R 11 SB .301/.389/.476
162 Game Avg. 162 G 17 HR 71 RBI 91 R 11 SB .270/.354/.436
One hit wonder MLB seasons

Junior Spivey’s career was short but was in MVP conversation in 2002. (Photo by Getty Images)

Spivey’s 2002 season matches up fairly evenly with his 162-game average, although he only managed to play in over 100 games in a season twice, as he only tallied 457 career games played in the major leagues.

 

In 2002, Spivey set career-highs across the board in home runs, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, stolen bases, walks and runs scored.

He managed to make his first and only All-Star team while also finishing the year 14th in National League MVP voting. His offensive WAR totaled 4.3, which is over 50 percent of his total career offensive WAR, which totals 7.3.

 

Chase Headley, Third Baseman, San Diego Padres, 2012

2012 Stats 161 G 31 HR 115 RBI 95 R 17 SB .286/.376/.498
162 Game Avg. 162 G 15 HR 69 RBI 72 R 4 SB .263/.343/.399

The current New York Yankee has been an above-average player for his entire career, as in each of his ten seasons, he has tallied an offensive WAR above one. It was Headley’s 2012 season that makes him one of MLB’s one-hit wonders of the 2000’s.

In his fourth season as a full-time starter, the former second-round pick flourished, batting .286 with 31 home runs, 115 RBI, 95 runs and 17 stolen bases. Headley managed to win a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, while also finishing fifth in the National League MVP vote. His offensive WAR of 6.5 in 2012 makes up for over 25 percent of his total career offensive WAR of 24.2.

Rich Aurilia, Shortstop, San Francisco Giants, 2001 

2001 Stats 156 G 37 HR 97 RBI 114 R .324/.369/.572
162 Game Avg. 162 G 18 HR 74 RBI 73 R .275/.328/.433
One hit wonder MLB seasons

Rich Aurilia’s 2001 season remains a massive anomaly compared to the rest of his career. (Photo by Getty Images)

Aurilia mustered up some productive years, but nothing like his 2001 campaign. In his lone All-Star season, Aurilia led the league in hits with 206, 37 of which went for home runs. In 2001, he batted .324 with 114 runs scores and 97 RBIs.

At 29 years old, Aurilia managed to earn a Silver Slugger while also being voted 12th in the National League MVP race. His offensive WAR in 2001 totaled 6.3, which is 33 percent of his 15-year career total offensive WAR of 18.9. His second most productive offensive season came the year before in 2000, where he totaled an offensive WAR of 2.2.

 

Lew Ford, Left Fielder, Minnesota Twins, 2004

2004 Stats 154 G 15 HR 72 RBI 89 R 20 SB .299/.381/.446
162 Game Avg. 162 G 11 HR 55 RBI 73 R 15 SB .268/.345/.399

Former 12th round pick by the Boston Red Sox, Ford was traded to the Twins in 2000 for a veteran reliever. Ford played 230 games in the minors for Minnesota, batting .297 with 24 home runs and 124 RBI before being called up in 2003.

It was Ford’s 2004 campaign that puts him on the map of one-hit wonder seasons. Ford batted .299 with 15 home runs, 72 RBIs, 89 runs and 20 stolen bases in 154 games.

In his first full major league season, the 27-year-old finished 24th in the American League MVP vote. His offensive WAR in 2004 was 3.3, which is about 64 percent of his career offensive production, as his total career offensive WAR is 4.9.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Center Fielder, Boston Red Sox, 2011

2011 Stats 158 G 32 HR 105 RBI 119 R 39 SB .321/.376/.552
162 Game Avg. 162 G 14 HR 68 RBI 98 R 46 SB .285/.341/.418
One hit wonder MLB seasons

Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2011 campaign resulted in a second place finish in the AL MVP race. (Photo by Zimbio.com)

Before joining the “Evil Empire”, Ellsbury enjoyed plenty of success as a part of the Boston Red Sox, winning two championships in 2007 and 2013. However, many tend to forget how outlandish his lone All-Star season was in 2011.

At 27 years old, Ellsbury batted .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBIs, 119 runs scored and 39 stolen bases. He won a Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and finished second in the American League MVP vote behind the Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander.

There was one occasion in 2013 in which Ellsbury finished within the top-25 in MVP voting, although the numbers he was putting up were nowhere close to his 2011 campaign. His offensive WAR in 2011 registered at 7.4, which accounts for 28 percent of his total offensive production over his 11-year career, whereas his offensive WAR in 2013 measured in at only 4.1.

Carlos Quentin, Right Fielder, Chicago White Sox, 2008 

2008 Stats 130 G 36 HR 100 RBI 96 R 7 SB .288/.394/.571
162 Game Avg. 162 G 30 HR 95 RBI 81 R 2 SB .252/.347/.484

Quentin’s 162 game average is very respectable, although due to the fact that he only played in at least 130 games in a season twice, he finds himself as the starting right fielder of the one-hit wonder team of the 2000’s. The former first-round pick managed to hit 154 home runs and 491 RBIs over his nine-year career, although the majority of his offensive production came in 2008.

Quentin finished his 25-year-old season with a career-best .288 batting average, 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 96 runs scored. His offensive WAR of 5.3 accounts for exactly one third of his total career offensive production. If Quentin could stay healthy, he doesn’t end up on this list.

Mark Prior, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs, 2003

2003 Stats 30 GS 18-6 W-L 2.43 ERA 1.10 WHIP 245 K 211.1 IP
162 Game Avg. 34 GS 13-9 W-L 3.51 ERA 1.23 WHIP 243 K 211 IP
One hit wonder MLB seasons

Mark Prior’s career was cut tragically short due to a slew of injuries. (Photo by ESPN.com)

Prior was drafted 43rd overall by the Yankees in 1998, but decided to forgo and attend the University of Southern California instead. Three years later, he was selected second overall by the Cubs in the 2001 draft.

He made his major league debut in May of 2002, and finished the season with a 6-6 record, 3.32 ERA and 147 Ks in 116.2 innings pitched. In 2003, Prior officially broke out, recording an 18-6 record with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts.

He was voted an All-Star for the first and only time, while finishing third in the National League Cy Young and ninth in the NL MVP vote.

Prior’s career was derailed by multiple injuries including a broken ankle, broken elbow, torn labrum and torn rotator cuff, which caused him to retire at just 25 years of age in 2006.

His career WAR over five seasons is 15.7, although a good bit of his production occurred in 2003, where his WAR totaled 7.4.

John Axford, Closer, Milwaukee Brewers, 2011 

2011 Stats 74 G 46 SV 1.95 ERA 1.14 WHIP 86 K 73 IP
162 Game Avg. 68 G 20 SV 3.68 ERA 1.41 WHIP 74 K 65 IP

After being drafted in the seventh round in 2001, Axford decided to forgo the draft and attend the University of Notre Dame. He was then selected in the 42nd round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2005, although he did not sign. After spending a season with the Yankees, Axford made a move to Milwaukee where he would be until 2013.

Axford spent three full seasons as the Brewers’ primary closer, although his 2011 campaign was unparalleled to any other. He recorded 46 saves, a 1.95 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 73 innings pitched. His WAR in 2011 totaled 2.3, which accounts for over 50 percent of his nine-year career WAR of 4.2.

 

Featured image by Ed Betz of MLB.com

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