The San Diego Padres are 26 games into their season and look almost identical to last year’s team.
This first month of the season hasn’t been a lot of fun for fans of the San Diego Padres. The Friars find themselves at the bottom of the National League West, struggling to produce much offense, yet again. A deeper look at the numbers shows that this year’s team is performing at nearly an identical rate as last year’s.
Here are the 2018 NL West standings as of Thursday morning.
Compare this to the 2017 version and you see similar numbers for the Padres.
Statistically speaking, the Padres have taken a dip in production from this point last season, most notably in power and strikeout numbers.
San Diego’s 273 strikeouts are the highest in all of baseball, 26 more than the Baltimore Orioles (second most) and 153 more than the Kansas City Royals (least amount). What’s more troubling than the 11 total stolen bases, are the seven times the Padres have been caught stealing. Only the Philadelphia Phillies have been caught more often (eight times).
The lack of production can’t last, can it?
Ignore the starting rotation for a moment, let’s focus on the offensive side of this team. Matt Stairs was hired to help rejuvenate the Friar’s offense, after quickly turning around performances in Philadelphia last season. So far, the offensive production has been underwhelming.
Austin Hedges has yet to find success with his “new swing”, slashing a depressing .147/.205/.265 through his first 68 at-bats. The middle-infield combo of Carlos Asuaje and Freddy Galvis are hitting just .216 and .228, respectively. Asuaje has started to come around, however, the return of Wil Myers and emergence of Franchy Cordero has pushed Jose Pirela to second base, sending Asuaje to the bench.
Don’t expect Hedges, Galvis, or Asuaje to improve their averages by much. Unfortunately, fans want these players to be players they aren’t, leading to a lot of the early frustrations with this team.
There are a few spots we can point out to show that there is a glimmer of hope for an offensive pick-me-up as the season settles in.
A shot to the ribs put Manuel Margot out of commission for a few days, hindering the speedster’s ability to showcase his talents. The result has been a slash line that sits at .153/.215/.237/.435. It’s going to take some time for him to fully heal and make up for the lost time so early on in the year. If his rookie season was any indication, there’s no reason to believe he won’t turn things around.
Opposing pitchers have been throwing a lot more cutters to the center fielder, resulting in a 50% groundball rate for Margot. He’s hitting the ball hard this year, harder than he did last year, however, it’s going straight into the ground. Once he finds his stroke and starts to drive the ball, fans will see exactly why he is a centerpiece of this franchise going forward.
Also, factor in a healthy Wil Myers and the Padres have a top half of the batting order worthy of a lot of restless nights for opposing pitchers. Myers has appeared in only eight games, thus far, due to an injury at the very beginning of the season. However, in the brief amount of time he has been in the lineup, it’s been fantastic.
Myers’ strikeout rate (21%) is much lower than his previous two seasons. He may have zero walks to his credit, but he’s making more contact, hard contact.
As of Thursday morning, Myers has a BABIP of .400, thanks to a significant line-drive rate and his 62% hard-contact rate. These numbers will stabilize, but it’s obvious that Myers is seeing the ball well and feeling comfortable at the plate, despite the early injuries.
This team will hit a hot streak, soon. Get ready to sit back and enjoy the ride.