50 games in, the Padres’ identity is clear

The 2024 Padres have an identity. Jurickson Profar is a big part.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The short URL of the present article is: https://www.eastvillagetimes.com/r1s5
Spread the love
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres are 50 games into the 2024 season. San Diego’s identity has become abundantly clear.

After taking three games out of four in Atlanta from the Braves, the Padres sit at 25-25 ahead of their series against the Reds. It is said that it’s tough to tell what a baseball team is until about 40-50 games into the season.

It is no longer early. We are a week and a half away from June. Mother’s Day is in the rearview mirror. There is plenty of data to tell us who the Padres are and who they are not. They currently occupy the third Wild Card slot, one game ahead of the Giants.

What is this team’s identity? Here are four elements of it.


They play up or down to their competition.

For better or for worse, the Padres can win or lose any game they play. They can beat any good team around the league, and clearly, based on last week, they can lose to the worst teams in baseball. Among National League teams, they currently have the most wins against opponents .500 or better, with 14. That includes the recent series win against the Braves. They also are 5-3 against the Dodgers and won a series against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

On the flip side, their 15 losses to teams below .500 ranks as tied for the second most in all of baseball. They inexplicably were swept at home by the Colorado Rockies. They also dropped series to the last place Blue Jays and the struggling Cardinals.

That’s a very weird path to their .500 record. Clearly, this team has the talent to hang with anyone in Major League Baseball. It seems like it’s a mindset issue. If the Padres make the playoffs, they will be scary just based on their talent and their seemingly unabashed, unafraid approach against the top teams. They just need to sharpen their focus against inferior teams.


Petco Park is their own house of horrors.

We all know Petco Park is a pitcher’s park. It has been for its entire two-decade existence. However, this year, it’s becoming a “road team’s” park. The Padres have been horrible at home. The Friars are 10-16 at Petco, which is a worse home record than the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies. The squad bats .226 at home, which ranks 23rd. They are the top-ranked hitting team on the road at .288.

Offense, in general, is subdued at Petco Park. However, it seems like the Padres play poorly in all facets at home while their opponents take advantage. This seems psychological. Either way, the Padres need to step it up at home, given how many fans turn out for games. The fans have packed Petco Park over and over. They deserve better. If this team had simply played .500 baseball at home thus far, they would be six games above .500 overall right now.


The unsung heroes are becoming the main story.

The assumption was, and likely still is, the Padres will go as far as their stars Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts will take them. So far, the Padres are .500 in spite of those three players. Machado, Tatis, and Bogaerts are batting a combined .233 with a total WAR of 0.6. Compare that to Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar, who are batting .303 together with a combined WAR of 3.1.

Now, there is also uncertainty with Bogaerts’ health as he left the first game of Monday’s doubleheader in Atlanta with a shoulder injury.

If the Padres have one All-Star in their lineup right now that might head to Arlington in July, it’s Jurickson Profar. What a shocking development after he was an afterthought on a $1 million deal. He leads all qualified outfielders in batting average (.339) and leads all NL outfielders in OPS (.943). Forget All-Star nods, if the season ended today, Profar should be getting MVP votes.

Cronenworth is having a resurgent season after a brutal 2023. Among NL first basemen, only Freddie Freeman and Bryce Harper have a higher wRC+ than Cronenworth’s 136.

Don’t forget about Jackson Merrill. He is batting .289 with a 112 wRC+ as a rookie in a brand-new defensive position.

Now 50 games in, we start to wonder if the three stars will ever truly get going this season. All three have garnered MVP votes in the past. The “back of their baseball cards” tell the story that they should eventually heat up. The Padres cannot afford to wait around and find out. For now, the “role” players are the ones playing like stars.


I'd like this amount to  

This team is good enough to make the playoffs

That statement shouldn’t come as a shock when you see the names of Tatis, Machado, Bogaerts, Luis Arraez, and Yu Darvish on this squad. However, there was understandably some nervousness about this club after they failed to make the playoffs last year, all while losing a perennial MVP candidate in Juan Soto, one of the best closers in baseball in Josh Hader, and the reigning NL Cy Young winner in Blake Snell.

However, there is clearly something different about this team. They fight back after getting down early. Players get some key hits. The team is getting contributions from the bottom part of the lineup. The starting pitching is showing more depth. Robert Suarez is emerging as one of the best closers in baseball, currently 13 for 13 in save chances with a 0.44 ERA. Manager Mike Schildt has pressed the right buttons in key spots.

Given their success against top-tier teams, it’s clear they can compete. If the season ended today, they would be in the playoffs in that third Wild Card slot. The National League has a host of middling teams just behind them, like the Giants, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Pirates, and Mets. If any of those teams catch fire, the Padres will need to keep pace.

Given their additions of Arraez and Dylan Cease, it’s clear this team fully intends on competing. I doubt A.J. Preller stops there. This team is planning on October baseball.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *