The Padres Are Improving On Last Year

Credit: AP

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.

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, and 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.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

This article has 8 Comments

  1. Disagree with most of these Negative Nancys and also disagree with some of your points in the article as well. Frankly, none of us now how things will turn out but we are all entitled to our opinions of course too.

    Myers and Hedges have been beyond frustrating. The injuries with both of these guys need to stop but I still believe Myers will be a major piece going forward. hedges has yet to prove that he can consistently hit besides batting under .250 with some pop here and there. We haven’t been able to get a good glimpse yet of how having Myers in the lineup (and hitting well) will effect the plate approach and opposing pitchers’ adjustments for guys like Hosmer and maybe even Villanueva and Renfroe now too.

    Jury has to be out still on Renfroe. It is definitely encouraging to see improvements from even a small sample size but need to see how these metrics level out over the course of the season. I disagree that Villanueva is a stop gap. He has showed consistent playmaking ability both offensively and defensively so far. He was also a highly touted prospect in the Cubs farm system if I am not mistaken so it’s not like this is coming out of nowhere. Sometimes change of scenery and a chance can be all a player needs to finally be comfortable and hit their stride.

    The outfield is the biggest question mark right now still to me. So many options but it’s a good problem to have. I’m not even sure that I have an opinion on who to part ways with at this point since we haven’t seen Myers for more than 10 games still and a lot of these guys have hit the DL already as well. Most of them are very young still and all of them have positives and negatives. You have major power guys like Cordero, Renfroe and now the emergence of Franimal. You have speedster and rockstar defender types in FreddyJ and Margot. You have Myers who should be a leader on this team and is thought of as a very well rounded player although his outfield fielding is suspect at times still. Tough call. I think Szczur will be one of the odd men out here. There just isn’t room for him. Other than that, I will leave it to the experts for now.

    I’d like to keep Hand for now. He’s shown consistency, not too expensive and still relatively young. He could easily be dominant into the (hopefully) winning years of this LONG rebuild. As for guys like Ross & Richard, I love’ em but they are both a little too old to really be able to have a major positive impact for us once we make our return to relevance in 2019-2020 and beyond. They both have high value right now – especially Ross. If the package is right for either one or both I would not be mad at a deal here. It would probably mean we have a rough go of it pitching-wise for the rest of this year but we do need to start taking a look at more our farm arms towards the end of this season. Besides, we weren’t expected to be this close to contention this year anyway – not anywhere near where we are now actually.

    That’s my take. Take it or leave it. Hate it, love it, or disagree and move on. :shrug:

    Keep the Faith. Go Pads.

  2. I agree with Tanned Tom (except on trading Renfroe, he is going to be good I promise). We keep hearing about this great farm system we have yet every 5th day we are still making “bullpen starts”.

    The talk of trading Ross and Hand is bad news. We have been making trades for prospects almost exclusively for 3 seasons now. All it has gotten us is “bullpen starts” and a team near the bottom of the league in offense.

    We cannot even figure out what we are doing with an $84 million player in Myers, a rookie of the year and all star. If management cannot even figure out what they are doing with him, how do we expect them to handle the up and comers?

    Last years team improved throughout the year, I suspect this years team will have trouble matching the 71 win total from 2017. Which is troubling seeing as we added Galvis and Hosmer. It goes to Tanning Tom’s point that too many of our home grown guys are going backwards not forwards.

  3. Using the same players, that are not MLB quality, to compare year over year, is, to quote an oft used business expression, like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

  4. I don’t think anyone would mistake the Padres for being a “good” team right now but it is a positive that they are showing an upward trajectory. 75 wins is a reasonable expectation for this season. Shoot for .500 next year and 90+ wins in 2020 and beyond.

  5. It’s nice to be optimistic, but a team wRC+ of 87 is awful, something you might expect of a team full of minor leaguers.
    “Will it last?” Let’s hope not, they need to do tons better if they ever hope to compete.
    And please with Renfroe, you’re gonna cite a 12 game stretch as evidence of improvement? That’s the very definition of small sample size.
    Better to be honest with ourselves, this team cannot hit. Position player development has stalled. Margot has had a terrible year, Galvis can field but is just a stopgap, Villanueva is 27 soon, can’t field and is out of shape, they inexplicably have 4 catchers on the 40 man roster, and at least 8 OFs.
    A good team might want 3 or 4 players off this squad. Hand, maybe some of the relievers, possibly Jankowski, Hosmer if you don’t have to pay his contract. The rest is flotsam.
    Yes the team is easier on the eyes when winning, which team isn’t?
    They need Hedges and Margot to develop, to settle on their OFs (Jankowksi, Cordero, Margot), trade the surplus players (Renfroe, Spangenberg, Asuaje, etc.), keep anyone playing well (Ross, Richard) and above all, dump Wil Myers and his idiot salary. The club’s 40 man roster is a mess, and should be straightened out at once.

    1. Myers isn’t dumpable and will definitely be one of the three outfielders going forward when not injured.

    2. Tanned Tom is spot on. Especially on player development. Margot, is what he is, which is a no walk, no steal, occasional hitter. Serviceable, but not a star in the making. Hedges, is the modern day Dave Duncan, and as Casey Stengel said, “Has a chance to be 30.” They won’t be able to dump Myers salary, since it is back loaded, but what they could do is put him back at catcher, his first position. He certainly doesn’t hit consistently enough to warrant any other starting position. This team, to his point, is winning because of the flat lined competition lately. However, expecting carry over to compete against better teams, is merely wishful thinking. Villanueva, I might give a little bit more time, but ultimately he is a stop gap. Galvis is a nice player, and provides fielding consistency at a great level, but the price was too high. De Los Santos should be pitching for the Padres, especially for a 1 year rental. Now, on the positive side, things do change quickly but they need to find some HITTERs right now, I cannot watch a team that for 7 seasons has not had anyone worth mentioning playing as a hitter in the field, and that includes Myers all star season.

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