Jul 28, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres infielder Chase Headley (7) triples to center against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 Padres have lacked consistent offense. This is no secret. What baffles me is that some Padres’ fans are acting like this is the first time this has ever happened. I have accepted the fact that this is not going to be an easy thing to change. I also accept that Petco Park is not an attractive place to hit and we also do not have the budget to bring in a Mike Trout, Troy Tulowitzki or Miguel Cabrera. But I’m seeing a trend that the Padres need to figure out a way to stop.
Every year dating back to 2008 (6 years), the Friars have finished in the bottom 10 of the rankings in both team batting average and home runs. However, after moving the fences in a little before the 2013 season, the Padres finished 21st in home runs which is the highest since 2008. I want more offense. I sat here looking at the team offensive rankings of the past 7 years and I saw a few things that intrigued me. I saw teams ranked lower than the Padres who have higher payrolls and more hitter friendly parks. I also saw teams ranked higher who have lower payrolls and just as spacious if not more spacious ballparks. But year after year, the Padres consistently finish towards the bottom. Funny enough, one of the worst years in the recent past for the Friars was 2010, when the Padres nearly made the playoffs and won 90 games. So what is missing? From 2011 to now, the Padres have been mediocre at best, winning 71, 76 and 76 games in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.
In 2013, the Padres had more home runs than the Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers and Cardinals. All of those teams either made the playoffs or have big payrolls and hitter friendly parks. Now, I know home runs do not in any way, shape or form directly relate to World Series championships. But they do put butts in the buckets at the ballpark, creating more revenue for teams. The Mariners, Athletics and Rays all had more home runs (by a decent margin) than the Padres. All 3 of those teams play in difficult parks and had minimal payrolls.
In 2012, the Royals were 7th in team average and in 2011, the Astros were 5th in the NL in average. Their payrolls are just as low and their stadiums are spacious. What I am saying is, why can’t the Padres finish towards the top in an offensive category besides grounding into double plays and strikeouts? Teams with low payrolls and spacious stadiums do it all the time. What is missing? Home runs don’t win championships, but having a relevant offense does. Last year’s champion Red Sox were 2nd in the MLB in average, the 2012 Giants won the World Series after finishing 5th in average, the 2011 champion Cardinals led the league in that category. So even though the saying goes “good pitching beats good hitting” and “defense wins championships,” you have to hit the baseball well to win games. The ultimate goal is to win a World Series. We should expect nothing less from the Padres.
Where do the Padres find such offense? I heard a saying recently “when a team continues to finish at the bottom, you have to look at the top.” Meaning, what is our front office doing to improve this offense? Everyone is at fault: the hitters, scouting and executives. We have guys who have shown us they can hit, and hit for power as well: Jedd Gyorko (23 HRs), Chase Headley (31 HRs), Will Venable (22 HRs), and Chris Denorfia (10 HRs, .279 avg). We need the right pieces together to get the most talent out of these guys. The question is…how? Until we figure that out, the Padres will continue to play…Quadruple-A baseball.