Let’s go back in time to June 14 of last year, the Padres had just beaten the Reds to become 27-40 through their first 67 games.
Shortstop Erick Aybar was struggling, hitting just .215 and their best starting pitcher was Jhoulys Chacin. The Friars were also 14 1/2 games back of the division and had the third-worst record in the entire league, with their run differential at -113.
Fast forward to this season, the Padres are 31-36, four games better, and are better than 10 teams in the league and their run differential is -46. Oh, and they are just five games out of first place in the NL West.
It’s pretty easy to see that the Padres have improved this season. 2018 is about progress and getting the young guys experience. Almost halfway through the season, mission accomplished so far.
Look no further than Hunter Renfroe. Last year, he ended up being demoted after hitting .230 with a 28.7% strikeout rate. This season, in 12 games since he came off of the disabled list, he is hitting .324 with five doubles and a 15% walk rate, which is more than double his career rate. He has shown marked improvement against right handers too.
When Franchy Cordero was healthy, he too had shown vast improvements from his brief stint last year. Travis Jankowski is hitting .306 and the Padres have a competent, perhaps even above average shortstop in Freddy Galvis.
This ain’t the 2017 Friars.
The Padres have won 4 straight series for the first time since 2015. They are 21-16 since the start of May. Last year through 67 games they were 27-40 with a -113 run differential.
2018: 31-36, -46 run differential. #progress #Padres
— Nick L. (@NickLee51) June 10, 2018
All this was while playing the toughest schedule in the big leagues for the first five weeks of the season. The Padres have had some pleasant surprises too, like Christian Villanueva’s 15 home runs, Adam Cimber’s 1.30 ERA, Tyson Ross’ resurgence with a 9.24 K/9 rate and a 3.43 ERA.
The signing of Eric Hosmer has also helped as he hit his eighth home run on Sunday along with a .292 average. As I wrote last week, he has been everything the Padres could have asked for at this point.
Last year as a team, the Padres had an 84 wRC+. This season, they have an 87 wRC+ with an improved on-base percentage and walk rate.
Will this last? Maybe not. Even if it doesn’t, the evidence is there. Give Andy Green some credit, he has this team looking more confident and playing cleaner. The Padres now have won four straight series for the first time since 2015.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and it grows brighter everyday. This team is entertaining to watch and this is just the beginning.