The San Diego Padres are starting to receive some love from MLB writers, being ranked as the second-most underrated team heading into the 2020 season.
As the San Diego Padres open up Spring Training, MLB writers everywhere are organizing their lists and predictions for division winners, MVP candidates, and individual statistics. Fangraphs recently projected the team to finish with an 87-75 record, which would qualify them for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
And MLB.com writer, Richard Justice just made a bold statement, indicating that the Padres are the second-most underrated team in baseball:
"“The Padres made fewer headlines this offseason, but they continued to get better. Tommy Pham gives them an explosive offensive addition in left field. Trent Grisham is a first-rate defensive addition in center. Garrett Richards is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and will help take some of the workload from the young starters. Perhaps the biggest improvement will come on the left side of the infield, where the Padres expect to potentially have a pair of superstars in Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.“"
All of his points are valid, and I think everyone is going to value Pham’s presence on this roster. The former St. Louis Cardinal and Tampa Bay Ray was acquired in December, and he’s already had an impact on several of the younger players on this roster. And while Hunter Renfroe‘s bat will be missed in some aspects, the fact of the matter is that he contributed to an awful lot of the team’s strikeouts.
Tatis was also a big contributor to the strikeout department – 29.6 percent in 84 games – but he also skipped Triple-A entirely and is still 21-years-old. He’s projected to be a perennial MVP candidate and should reduce the number of strikeouts as the game starts to slow down. It will also be essential for him to stay healthy in 2020, as he had multiple stints on the injured list during his rookie year.
Machado’s 2019 was a down year in terms of his track record, which could have been attributed to the expectations set forth by his massive ten-year contract. Now in his second year, I expect a monster year from the 27-year-old in what should form one of the most prolific left sides of the infield in baseball.
The Padres rotation finished with a combined 4.66 ERA but didn’t start to take shape until both Dinelson Lamet and Richards entered the conversation in the second half. They acquired Zach Davies this offseason and paired with rookie sensation, Chris Paddack, and Joey Lucchesi, the rotation looks sound on paper. It will ultimately depend on if Richards and Lamet can stay healthy all year, but they have a considerable amount of depth behind them.