Let's begin by acknowledging that there really is no excusing how badly the 2023 San Diego Padres underachieved.
A club with the third-highest payroll in baseball and lofty expectations after coming within striking distance of the 2022 World Series should've been primed for an epic run this season.
Instead, disaster ensued. Fernando Tatis Jr.'s PED suspension, injuries to star players and pitchers, apparent dysfunction. But at the end of the day, this team didn't even come close to scratching the surface of its potential.
Here are two excuses the San Diego Padres can't use to blame for their 2023 misfortune and one that they can use.
1) The San Diego Padres can't use Fernando Tatis Jr.'s PED suspension as an excuse for 2023
Yes, "Nando" missed the first 20 games of this season after being suspended for PED usage. No, that's not a viable excuse for the Padres' underperformance in 2023.
Sure, Tatis Jr. is a lightning rod. And his return provided a necessary spark to what had been a lethargic San Diego squad. But all the 24-year-old has done since being reinstated is rake, which is what he normally does.
Tatis Jr. has a 116 wRC+ while being worth 4.5 fWAR, his second-highest value since debuting in 2019.
This Padres lineup was stacked before his re-emergence, and it continued to be stacked after the fact. And yet? They just haven't clicked as much as you'd expect. One player doesn't resolve all the team's issues, just as one doesn't create them on his own.