Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Okay, okay, okay. I know that reacting to 25 games is an incredibly small sample size and unfair to the players involved. I know that this team is missing their best hitter and it’s early in the season, which is normally when we see numbers dropping. I know that we’re in an era where hitting is being obliterated by pitching and strikeouts are at a record pace.
Having said all that, take a look at this:
The Padres, after 25 games, are scoring 2.60 runs per game. If this number holds, it would be the lowest number in the history of the team. Yes, even the expansion Padres in 1969, the team that lost 110 games, scored more runs per game. Admittedly, they only got to 2.89, but that’s still horrible.
In fact, even if you assume their run scoring goes up, and I hope that it will, and they are somehow able to add one run per game, getting themselves up to 3.60 per game, that would make them the 9th worst offense in Padres history.
And by the way, we’re not comparing this team to any behemoths of run scoring. These are Padres’ teams, which have been historically low-scoring. Most of the teams that scored less than 3.60 runs per game were those horrible post-expansion teams. This season, we’re seeing something historic.
They have scored, as a team, 65 runs. In total. The next worst team in the majors, Houston, which most observers believe is going to lose 100 games, have already scored 80. The Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies, who lead the majors, have scored 134 runs each. Brian Dozier has scored 24 runs for the Minnesota Twins.
Why is this offense so amazingly bad? It’s pretty simple. As a team, their collective OBP is .273. They are getting on base, as a team, just over twenty-seven percent of the time. Take a look at these horrible OBP numbers: Yonder Alonso .215, Jedd Gyorko .227, Chase Headley .250, Will Venable .227. Xavier Nady .257, Tommy Medica .172, Rene Rivera .231. You don’t want me to type out batting averages, which are just as painful to see.
There’s no power – the Padres have the second-worst slugging average in baseball at .330. And yes, that’s the second-worst number in the history of the franchise. They’re striking out a ton – already at 211 for the season, which puts them at tenth-worst in the majors and, if they continue at this pace, would be the worst in the history of the team.
I could continue depressing you, but just trust me. Almost everything connected to the offensive side of the ball is at record or near record pace for futility. Whether it’s walks per game, strikeouts per game, runs per game, OPS, or WAR, this team is horrible.
How they’re 11 and 14 right now is beyond me. This team should be down with the Diamondbacks instead of sitting 3 1/2 games out of first place. The pitching has been excellent, the bullpen amazingly good, and they’re squeaking out these one-run games.
But we have to start asking, how did they get here?
Anyone who has read any of my previous articles know that I hold the Padres’ front office in very low esteem. I think Josh Byrnes and the collection of middle managers above him don’t seem to care about the product they put onto the field, as long as they reach their targets in ticket sales and as long as the TV money keeps pouring in.
Every scout that I’ve read who has checked over the Padres farm system all said the same thing: tons of pitchers who are either ready or close to being ready to contribute to the majors. None of them are going to be superstars, but a lot of them are going to be very solid big leaguers. In fact, we had seen a few of them in 2013 and knew what they were capable of.
On the flip side, most of the hitters had already been called up or were still at least a year or two away. We’re not going to be seeing the good young hitters until, at the earliest, 2015.
Any smart general manager looks at those reports (and I’m assuming the team has similar reports) and concludes that they should maybe go out, add a bat or two, and rest assured that the pitching will take care of itself – relievers are easily replaceable and there are a bunch of starters waiting for their shot.
So what do the Padres do? They spend $8 million on a fragile pitcher coming off his worst season in the majors, sign another reliever as their set up man, and then trade a good young hitter who can play multiple positions (albeit injury prone) in order to add a left-hander who is only going to be used as a LOOGY. Oh, and has control problems.
Sorry, I’ve written this before. The Padres’ general manager isn’t very good. Let’s move on.
The hitting problems actually started much earlier than this. We can all say that the Padres should have gone out this off-season and added some bats. But where? And how much would they cost? You look down the list of hitters that signed in the off-season, look at the dollars they got, and then look at where they could have fit in the Padres lineup, and that’s when things get difficult.
Could the Padres have landed Shin Soo Choo, or Carlos Beltran, or Jacoby Ellsbury to get a big bat in right field? Nope. And when you get down through the top 10 free agent hitters, the list gets pretty scary. Would you want Marlon Byrd? Curtis Granderson? Or Raul Ibanez? Or Chris Young? There just wasn’t a lot of quality out there.
And the top players remaining? Stephen Drew isn’t needed. You can’t sign Kendrys Morales without jettisoning Alonso. The rest of the guys? Are you ready to bring Sean Burroughs back? How about Matt Antonelli? The team needs a third baseman with Headley down. You want Josh Fields manning the hot corner? Brandon Inge?
For better or for worse, the Padres decided at the beginning of the season to ride with the starting 8 that they played with, for the most part, last season. There wasn’t really an opportunity to add anyone because all the positions were set. There were no battles for positions because everything had been predetermined. Their bench is weak because that’s how a modern baseball team’s bench is built. The third catcher is a wrinkle that the Padres added to their ineptitude, but that’s a minor problem in this mess.
All we have to hope for now is regression back to the mean. There’s no way Gyorko is going to keep hitting this horribly. Alonso has to find that stroke that he had in spring training. Venable must prove last season wasn’t a fluke. The return of Cameron Maybin sparks the lineup. This happens and the Padres have a decent lineup again. Maybe the hitting coach gets replaced. Maybe Bud Black figures out the right lineup. But something has to change, and change soon.
Because right now, this is a painful team to watch try to hit the ball.