Early Major League rankings for the Padres

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

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Credit: Padres

The San Diego Padres rank first of all Major League Baseball teams in one category–clean defense. So far, the team has played error-free baseball.  Otherwise, the results so far have been puzzling, especially considering the talent on the roster and the $205 million payroll.

The Padres have taken advantage of weaker teams like the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks and managed a split with the Atlanta Braves for a 9-6 record. But that only counts for fourth place in the National League West behind the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-3, San Francisco Giants 10-5, and surprising Colorado Rockies 8-5.

The first game against the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers highlighted the team’s early weak spots. The Padres lost decisively by a score of 6-1. Manny Machado (one hit) and Eric Hosmer (two hits) accounted for three-fourths of the team’s total output. Overall, Padres hitters piled up a total ten strikeouts and left 15 runners on base.

The Padres’ offense would be anemic without Manny Machado (overall .352 BA, 1.018 OPS) and Eric Hosmer (.388 BA, .922 OPS).  Machado and Hosmer lead the team in hits (20 and 19 respectively); doubles Hosmer six, Machado five; total bases Machado 34, Hosmer 25; OBP Machado .422, Hosmer .412; slugging Machado .596, Profar .671, Hosmer .510.

Despite the winning record, a number if deficiencies must be addressed, especially since the Rockies have joined the Dodgers and the Giants in the fight for primacy in the loaded National League West. For instance, in runs per game, the Padres average 4.13, 14th overall. The Dodgers (5.38) lead baseball, with the Rockies fourth at 5.17 and the San Francisco Giants 10th at 4.43.

The team must improve in the following areas (stats as of April 22):

Batting average           17th      0.223

Slugging percentage   18th      0.355

On base/slugging        14th      0.676

Hits per game              21st       7.13

Homeruns per game    20th      0.80

RBI per game               13th      3.93

Total bases/game         20th      1.33

BABIT                             14th      0.282

On the plus side, the Padres rank 6th in run differential at +13.0, near the top (fourth) in walks per game at 4.13, 9th in on-base percentage at 0.321, 22nd in strikeouts at 9.07, 5th in stolen bases at 0.67, and 22nd in runners left on base at 15.00.

So far, the pitchers have fared better than the hitters, especially if Yu Darvish’s disastrous start against the Giants in San Francisco is discounted. In 1.2 innings, he gave up eight hits and nine runs (all earned) and pushed his ERA to an alarming 10.57. Five days later, he pitched 6.2 innings, giving up just four hits over 6.2 innings in a 2-1 win over the Braves.

Collectively, Padres pitchers rank 11th in earned runs per game at 3.27, 10th in strikeouts/nine innings at 9.41, 19th in walks/nine at 3.48, 12th in outs pitched per game at 26, 27th in home runs/nine at 1.23

Last year Joe Musgrove (the owner of the only no-hitter in Padres’ history) had a record of 11-9, an ERA of 3.18, a WHIP of 1.08, and he’s continued his dominance into this year (in an admittedly small sample size): 2-0 with an ERA of 1.89, a WHIP of 1.09 over 19 innings. New addition Sean Manaea has won two of the three games he started, with a minuscule ERA of 1.4 and WHIP 0.79 over 19.0 innings pitched.

While the pitchers have pulled their weight for the most part, the hitters, in general, have been in a swoon. In 42 plate appearances, Luke Voit (who was hired for his bat) has an average of .143, OBP .315, OPS .482, which hardly resembles his career average of .263, OBP .355, OPS.852. Wil Myers (.174/.224/.239/.463, Jake Cronenworth (.160/.317/.220/.537), and Trent Grisham  (.143/.250/.245/.495) have all started the season with dismal results at the plate.

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Machado and Hosmer cannot be expected to pick up the team and carry it offensively. Of course, there’s irony in Hosmer’s hot start as the Padres have made no secret of shopping his contract.

Fortunately, the San Diego Padres have plenty of time to get in a groove offensively. According to FanGraphs projections, the Padres have a 78.1 percent chance of making the playoffs behind the Dodger’s 96.5 percent.

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