No one said this season would be pretty, and so far, the Padres’ 2017 performance offers little positive beyond the belief that losing will result in high draft picks and winning seasons in the future; however, to me, it seems that the actual year the front office predicts this turnaround will occur moves farther and farther into the future.
The first game after the break, a loss at the hands of the last place team in the division, highlighted many of the deficiencies the Padres must correct in order to turn the team’s fortune’s around and actually compete.
For one, calling the team’s play, especially the defense, sloppy against the San Francisco Giants would be charitable. Since the Padres rank 26th in fielding percentage in all of baseball, the defensive shortcomings should surprise no one. Last year the team ranked 25th in defensive runs saved (-33), with the World Series champion Chicago Cubs coming in first with 82, the Astros second with 51.
As for batting, this year the Padres come in last with a -129.0 run differential. The Giants, ranked 29th, don’t come close to that level of futility with a -98.0 run differential. In the meantime, the juggernaut called the Dodgers have a +165 run differential, the Diamondbacks +101, the Rockies +30. In runs per game at 3.55, the Padres bring up the rear in all of baseball, as they do in on base percentage (0.294) and strikeout percentage (26.1).
Yangervis Solarte, on the disabled list since June 20th with a left oblique strain, leads the team in batting average at .268 and on base percentage at .349. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge, leads MLB in the latter category getting on base .446 percent of the time with Bryce Harper of the Nationals coming in second at .434.
Only the pitching has been somewhat better than predicted before the season, with some analysts citing Austin Hedges’ defensive skills and game-calling abilities as the reason; although, pitching coach Darren Balsley also deserves credit. The Padres rank 22nd in ERA at 4.64. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers’ pitching staff, led by Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood, rank first with a 3.13 ERA.
In short, numbers do not lie, and the San Diego Padres must improve in just about every aspect of the game to engage fans in the second half or to ever hope to compete in the National League West, let alone the rest of baseball.