Chris Paddack is Padres’ Best Rookie Starting Pitcher in Petco Park Era

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Despite an up-and-down season, the (nearly) final numbers of Chris Paddack’s 2019 campaign are among the best the Padres have ever had from a rookie.

Chris Paddack put himself on the map in 2019 with a brash attitude and a relentless approach on the mound. From his “feud” with star rookie Pete Alonso of the Mets to his near no-hitter in Miami, Paddack has made a name for himself among the national baseball landscape.

He has allowed just one run in his last two starts, totaling 12 1/3 innings pitched. Overall, he has a 3.54 ERA, a 2.1 WAR (FanGraphs) and a 121 ERA+ in 24 starts so far this season. At 129 2/3 innings, he is likely approaching his limit, perhaps with just one or two starts remaining.

Even with some rough outings mixed in, including a 7.50 ERA in five starts in August, Paddack is among the best rookie starting pitchers to ever start their career with the San Diego Padres. In fact, the numbers suggest that Chris Paddack is the best rookie starting pitcher the Padres have had since Petco Park opened its doors in 2004.

Let’s take a look back at some other notable rookie starters and see how they compare.

Jake Peavy’s rookie season was in 2002, just before Petco Park opened. He posted a 4.52 ERA, an 83 ERA+ and 1.7 WAR. Certainly, he is the best starting pitcher the Padres have had in the Petco Park era but his rookie season was nothing special nor was it at Petco Park.

Tim Stauffer is a fan favorite in San Diego who pitched the better part of nine seasons with the Friars. His career got off to a less-than-inspiring start in 2005 with a 5.33 ERA, 73 ERA+, and 0.7 WAR.

Clay Hensley gives Paddack the best run for his money among Padres rookie starters. In 2006, Hensley started 29 games, pitched 187 innings with a 3.71 ERA, 109 ERA+, and 2.5 WAR. His WAR is actually better than that of Paddack (for now), but the other numbers fall short of Paddack’s 2019 campaign.

Hensley 109
Paddack 121


Hensley 3.71
Paddack 3.54


Hensley 4.15
Paddack 4.12


Hensley 5.9
Paddack 9.5


Hensley 3.7
Paddack 2

Perhaps the one difference is that Hensley was a key part of a pitching staff that led the 2006 team to the National League West division title and a playoff berth. Otherwise, Paddack’s numbers are superior to Hensley’s.

Cory Luebke was a pitcher full of promise coming to San Diego. In 2011, he teased his potential with a solid 3.29 ERA and 108 ERA+, flipping between the bullpen and starting rotation, making 17 starts with 46 total appearances.  Unfortunately, his career quickly was derailed by injuries and under-performance.

Jesse Hahn became a solid starting pitcher for a few seasons, and it started with a good rookie campaign in San Diego in 2014. He boasted a 3.07 ERA and 111 ERA+ in 14 games, 12 of them starts. What gives Paddack the edge over Hahn is he has started twice as many games, beats him in WAR 2.1 to 2.0 and has an ERA+ 10 points higher.

Overall, Paddack has the highest ERA+ among Padres rookie starting pitchers since Petco Park opened.

ERA+ for Rookie SP since 2004 (min 10 starts)
Year Pitcher ERA+
2019 Chris Paddack 121
2014 Jesse Hahn 111
2006 Clay Hensley 109
2011 Cory Luebke 108
2014 Odrisamer Despaigne 101
2018 Joey Lucchesi 94
2009 Clayton Richard 93
2017 Dinelson Lamet 93
2007 Justin Germano 90
2018 Eric Lauer 89
2019 Cal Quantrill 84
2016 Colin Rea 83
2009 Mat Latos 82
2006 Mike Thompson 81
2008 Josh Banks 80
2005 Tim Stauffer 73
2016 Luis Perdomo 70
2019 Nick Margevicius 67
2009 Josh Geer 64

Will this lead to Paddack being one of the best pitchers of this era of Padres baseball? That is impossible to say just one year in. However, this trend suggests that, if he stays healthy and in San Diego, he may soon claim that title. But for now, he will just have to settle for the best rookie starting pitcher the Padres have had since moving from Qualcomm Stadium.

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