San Diego’s lone professional team had another disappointing year, finished 71-91, placing them far away from the second wildcard spot in the competitive NL. The 2017 Padres were an abysmal offensive team, as they were dead last in runs, hits, batting average, and on-base percentage. The Padres also ranked in the bottom five in every other major offensive category.
The pitching staff wasn’t much better at Petco Park, ranking in the bottom third of most of the major pitching categories as well. Even with all this bad news for the Padres, there are reasons for hope for the 2018 squad, as the team made a few moves for the future while increasing their competitiveness in the present.
The first move out of the gate, San Diego hired hitting coach Matt Stairs to help solve their offensive woes in the future. The Padres played the market to add Royals slugger Eric Hosmer who can hopefully add some pop to their lineup. They were also able to add former Yankee corner infielder Chase Headley who can provide versatility in the field and a switch-hitting threat who can hit for average. Freddy Galvis should be able to bring a solid bat to the lineup with gold glove ability and will provide some stability to the position before their top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. reaches the majors.
As for their pitching staff, the Padres added Yankees RHP Bryan Mitchell in the Chase Headley trade, who will provide some depth as a long reliever or bottom of the rotation starter. Submarine pitcher Kazuhisa Makita should give a wrinkle to the Padres bullpen and has the talent to help solidify a reasonably decent bullpen.
As mentioned before, the Padres starting rotation wasn’t much to sniff at in 2017, and with no significant additions to the bullpen this winter, their hopes rely on current players either improving or rebounding in 2018.
Righty Dinelson Lamet has a nasty slider and curveball, ranked second in the MLB in opponent batting average on those two pitches, and had the highest strikeout percentage with the slider as well. However, with one of the worst walk rates against lefties, the righty Lamet has some obvious control issues he needs to work on for to become a solid MLB starter.
Luis Perdomo is in the mold of Astros star pitchers Dallas Keuchal and Lance McCullers, as the curveball heavy righty produces the third highest rate of groundballs in the MLB, which will keep you out of trouble as a pitcher. Hopefully, the improved defense in Petco will help Perdomo reach his potential.
Clayton Richard and Tyson Ross are not very exciting options at the bottom of your rotation, but ideally, Bryan Mitchell and prospects like Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer can make a positive impact on the rotation by seasons end.
The bullpen is one of the lone bright spots in San Diego, as Brad Hand ranked as one of the best closers in baseball and signed a three-year extension in January. The additions of Mitchell and Makita could help form a pretty good squad with the like of Carter Capps and Craig Stammen.
The lineup, as mentioned before was abysmal in 2017, but 2018 shows room for major improvement. Here’s what the batting order could look like in 2018:
|Order||Player||Position||Projected 2018 AVG/RBI/HR (Rotochamp)|
This already is leagues better than the 2017 squad, and with the possibility of middle infielder prospect Luis Urias making his major league debut in 2018, this lineup may be even better by years end. Although this lineup has some pop, they need to improve in OBP if they want to take advantage of that power, as the team had a god-awful .285 OBP in 2017. Hopefully, the additions of Headley, Galvis, and Hosmer will help change that, as all three had much higher OBP in 2017 (.352, .305, and .385 respectively).
With a significant portion of the MLB throwing in the towel for 2018 and tanking (looking at you, Miami), it is refreshing to see a team whose ETA is closer to 2020 than 2018, but still willing to give their fans something to root for in 2018. The Padres have some serious firepower in their third ranked farm system, but only a handful will have a chance to be ready in 2018. However, that’s not stopping them from putting out the best product they can in 2018.
Yes, the Chase Headley signing was more of a salary dump for the Yankees, but the Padres got two solid contributors for 2018 and possibly beyond, which is more than a lot of teams can say right now. The Eric Hosmer signing only proves that more, an eight-year commitment for a player with championship pedigree will not only help the 2018 Padres stay watchable, but all these young players and prospects will be able to learn from a class A type of guy, which can make a huge impact in their careers.
There is some room for improvement in this current lineup as well, as catcher Austin Hedges was a monster in Triple-A ball in 2016, but couldn’t seem to find his stride in 2018. Despite some of his projections, Hedges could learn from a great hitter like Hosmer to reach his potential and become a power hitting catcher that can change a game in one swing.
Hunter Renfroe came out hot on the scene in 2018 with some serious power, hitting 26 home runs in only 133 games, but wasn’t consistent enough to be a real star in that lineup. If the second-year outfielder can improve his on-base percentage in 2018, he could become an All-Star caliber hitter in a hurry.
Another fast starting Padres rookie was centerfielder Manuel Margot, who came back from an early calf injury to finish with a .263/.313/.409 slash line for the season. The 22-year-old has wheels and if he can continue to prove he can hit for average with occasional power, the rookie of the year candidate could become a staple in Petco Park sooner rather than later.
Team Award winners
Eric Hosmer will quickly prove to be the teams best all-around player, and one of the better signings of the 2017-2018 free agency period. Hosmers’ critiques pointed to his groundball rate as a major weakness in today’s MLB, but in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, it is Hosmer who will have the last laugh as he takes advantage of the cavernous outfield, propelling him to a top ten extra-base hit season.
Dinelson Lamet will be the teams most improved player in his first full season as a starter in the majors. The big righty will take advantage of his killer breaking balls, carving up his competition in 2018 for a near 3.00 ERA in pitcher-friendly San Diego
Record Projection: 77-85
Bovada has the over/under for the 2018 Padres at 69.5, which seems a tad low for a team that added some firepower in the offseason and couldn’t get much worse offensively, to begin with. The additions of Hosmer, Headley, and Galvis paired with the blossoming group of young position players will be good to improve on their 71 win season alone. The pitching staff got marginally better in 2018, and like the offense, some of the younger players should be expected to improve as well.
All this said, it is tough to see the Padres competing in September and October, like the Giants, the NL West is one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball, which makes it tough for a team like the Padres to move up in the win column in 2018. Although 2018 may not be their year, the Padres front office and ownership should be commended for building the team with an excellent young core while attempting to do the best they can to produce an enjoyable product for their fans to watch in 2018.
Article by: Maxx Hotton/Follow: @getinhottonhere/Follow us: @FPC_MLB
(Title Photo Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall)