The San Diego Padres enter 2018 with a little more hope and optimism than their 71 win 2017 season. After a dismal and boring year, the Padres were highly involved in Shohei Ohtani and finally landed their big fish, Eric Hosmer. Aside from that, they add some actual big league bats that they lacked a year ago in one of the worst offenses in the league. 2018 could be a step in the right direction for the Friars with their additions and prospects finally coming to fruition, but don’t look for them to make any moves towards the playoffs just quite yet.
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Chase Headley, 3B
Freddy Galvis, MIF
Yangervis Solarte, 3B
Travis Wood, LHP
Why they can win: The Padres are in a tough spot but things are looking up. Obviously, even with all the analytical, sabremetric gurus out there doubting him, getting Eric Hosmer is huge. Even if he is a lower end star, he is a world champion and a big name and any time you grab a 25HR .882OPS guy, that’s going to help you win. Hosmer paired with Chase Headley will help provide some protection for someone who they really would love to figure it all out, Wil Myers. Those three, if caught on the right day could do some damage to opposing pitchers. The addition of Freddy Galvis could help as depth in the lineup as he proved to be a decent bat/glove in Philly and some feel this year could be Manuel Margot and Jose Pirela’s coming out party.
Why they can lose: Did you notice nothing was said about their pitching in the win section?? That’s because their pitching is unbelievably underwhelming. It’s really going to hurt them and they need to try and compete with their “Ace,” Clayton Richard. <vomits in mouth> If they don’t hit, it is going to be ugly. They have some really fun prospects like Mackenzie Gore and could get good innings from Dinelson Lamet but this rotation and staff, even with adding Bryan Mitchell is BAD. That, alongside a possibly over hyped Hosmer, Headley and Myers not hitting and Margot not getting on base at the top could leave SD in the 95+ loss club.
Bottom Line: The Padres improved, but so did everyone in the NL West. They were 71-91 and even with Hosmer and Headley added to the lineup, they’re probably still only a 75-77 win team. They just don’t have the pitching to last a full 162 in a very deep division with bats like Goldschmidt, Arenado, Bellinger and now McCutchen. AJ Preller is doing serious work on getting this franchise back to relevance and even though they have some nice pieces in their prospects, Brad Hand and Eric Hosmer, they’re nowhere near ready to compete. They have a top 5 farm so there is stuff to be excited about moving forward but my goodness is their pitching terrible.
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Brad Hand, CL
It is rare for a reliever to be the stud on a team, but on a rebuilding Padre squad, Hand is their most elite player. Hand took over the closer job for the Padres and was lights out in 2017 with 21 saves, a 2.17 ERA and 104 Ks in only 79 IP. The lefty’s solid traditional stats are backed up by his elite advanced metrics: 3.03 FIP, 33.4 K%, 6.4 BB%, and 13.3% swinging-strike rate. He relies on a nasty slider that he uses over 45% of all pitches which had a whiff rate of over 19% (Brooks Baseball). Expect him to continue his success as he was actually more dominant against right-handed batters (1.90 FIP), so he is far from a lefty-lefty specialist. While the other young players look to grow and develop, Hand remains as the most elite player on the Padres.
Sinkhole: The Whole Starting Staff
As is the case with a lot of the starting pitchers on rebuilding teams, the Padres will trot out a number of unproven starters and suitcase veterans. The opening lineup of starters are as follows: Clayton Richard, Luis Perdomo, Tyson Ross, Bryan Mitchell, and Dinelson Lamet. That is a tough group. Richard is the veteran innings eater who is fresh off a 4.79 ERA season, who lacks the repertoire to miss bats at an average level (17.9 K%) and gives up lots of hard contact (35%). Perdomo is a younger pitcher who hasn’t experienced much success at the major league level (4.61 FIP in 310 IP), and his high GB% (61) is countered by a propensity to give up HRs on his fly-balls (40 in his two seasons). Ross is a former young stud who has struggled with control since his thoracic outlet surgery (15.6 BB% in 2017) and could continue on this path unless his stuff returns (velocity down 2 MPH). Mitchell was essentially bought in the Hedley deal from the Yankees and has elite velocity (96 MPH), but hasn’t been able to miss bats (14.3 K% in 98 MLB IP). Lamet provides the most upside as he throws in the mid-90s and can miss bats (11.8% swinging-strike rate), but he has poor controls (11.7 BB%) and gives up a ton of HRs (18 in 114 IP).
Regression Candidate: Wil Myers, OF
Myers is an intriguing player who has alternated good and bad seasons, similar to Hosmer (more on him below). Last season he hit 30 HR and 20 SB, which lead to a slightly above average 109 wRC+. His strikeout rate escalated 4 points, and his swinging strike rate went up 3 points. For being a good athlete, he has never graded out as good defender, but a move to RF may help minimize his poor fielding metric (-19.3, fangraphs). We think he his a good bounce back candidate due to his increasing fly ball and hard hit rates. Despite playing half his games in a pitchers park, he should increase his wRC+ to 115 and post a WAR near 3.
Impact Acquisition: Eric Hosmer, 1B
Hosmer is a polarizing players, as traditionalist see a player with a sweet left-handed swing (.318 BA) and a solid glove, while analytics folks see a seriously flawed player who is a sieve in the field. The Padres took the 8/$144M risk, hoping for the 4.1 WAR player who hit a career high 25 HRs, and not the substandard in 2014 and 2016 (0 WAR,-0.1 WAR respectively). Should he repeat those poor numbers, this contract will be an albatross. The Padres are investing a lot, and are doing so on his solid 15.5 K% and 9.8 BB% and strong contact rates for his position (80.2%). The issue that analytics people see is his extreme ground ball tendencies (55.6%). While everyone else is focusing on elevating the ball, Hosmer continues to beat balls into the ground. Hot Take: Hosmer cuts his WAR in half and posts <2 WAR while his HRs dip below 20 in a notoriously hard hitters park.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Fernando Tatis Jr, SS (8)
Mackenzie Gore, LHP (19)
Luis Urias, 2B/SS (36)
Cal Quantrill, RHP (40)
3 more in Top 100
Why We Love Them: Arguably the best stadium in the MLB and the BEST throwbacks both with the blue and orange and the brown and yellow. I love their farm, they have so many sweet pieces that could be legitimate stars in the bigs and hopefully they can pan out and the Padres can a relevant team again. Right now, the coolest things about them are Hosmer’s chinstrap and Wil Myers not wearing batting gloves and that’s not THAT cool.