Chris Paddack is the San Diego Padres best-kept secret. Most of Major League Baseball is only slightly aware of the pitcher. But things are about to change.
It is a bold statement, but stick with me for a second.
San Diego Padres right-handed pitcher Chris Paddack had a strong showing with the club in 2019, posting numbers that are comparable to Cy Young winners Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw. While Padres fans are excited for the arrival of MacKenzie Gore and the development of Joey Lucchesi, Paddack will most assuredly become a headline name in San Diego’s rotation for a long time.
Let us start with his effectiveness on his pitch mix, which consists of a four-seamer, changeup, and curveball. With each pitch, opposing batters struggled., particularly with his fastball. Hitters were unable to generate any sustainable quality of contact on this pitch, having low expected statistics, particularly on his four-seamer, allowing an xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA of 0.209, 0.381, and 0.275 respectfully. As Paddack relied on this pitch 61.1% of the time in 2019, it became a more reliable tool for creating outs. His secondary pitches were also effective to some degree, throwing his changeup and curveball 28.5% and 10.4% of the time respectfully. If Paddack develops another pitch and improves the ones he already has control of, he will become a perennial All-Star hurler.
Paddack is one of the most underrated National League pitchers in 2019, as his performance challenged that of some elite arms in the game. We mentioned before how batters struggled against his pitch mix. His strikeout rate of 26.9% further proves this. What fans must recognize is that this is one of the best rates in the NL last season. Amongst pitchers in the NL that threw at least 140 innings, Paddack finished in the top ten in this category.
Using the same criteria, he also had a low walk rate of 5.5%, which ranked ninth amongst qualified pitchers. This rate matched that of Jacob deGrom and is better than that of Clayton Kershaw (5.8%). Aside from his rate statistics, Paddack is also effective in limiting the rate in which ball were put into play, posting a BABIP of 0.237, which ranked first amongst those who fit the criteria. So, let’s review:
Paddack finished in the top ten in both strikeout and walk rate amongst NL pitchers who threw at least 140 innings and is first in BABIP under these criteria. There is no reason to believe that he won’t take a quantum leap in his development and emerge as one of the better starters in the National League.
While the team is allocating funds at different positions on the roster, the player development portion of the organization has been predominantly focused on the pitching staff. While others appear ready to be long-term solutions to the Padres rotation, Paddack appears to have the skillset to be one of their better pitchers in MLB and be placed in the same conversation as deGrom or Kershaw. He is the Padres best-kept secret. Major League Baseball should take notice.
Nicholas Fichtner is a baseball analyst and researcher, and Founder and Editor of The Launch Angle. His previous experience includes working as a Quantitative Analyst with the Northeastern University Huskies baseball program for the 2019 season. While in this role, he worked closely with the coaching staff in developing an analytics department that assisted in impacting overall strategy and player evaluation using advanced data analysis and metrics.
Before Northeastern, Fichtner served in previous roles with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League as an Assistant General Manager consulting on in-game strategy, roster management, and quantitative based player development, and as a Student Director of Analytics with his alma mater, Endicott College and their baseball program. His Thesis, entitled “Free Market Navigation in Major League Baseball,” details the development of a highly sophisticated model that accurately predicts free agent player salaries based on various quantitative variables. He currently resides in Beverly, Massachusetts.