Padres’ recipe for success: Beat L.A. (and the City by the Bay too)

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

If the San Diego Padres truly want to find franchise success, they must beat the Dodgers and Giants consistently. 

Since the San Diego Padres joined Major League Baseball in 1969 as one of four expansion teams (the Washington Nationals, Kansas City Royals, and Milwaukee Brewers), the Los Angeles Dodgers have had their way with the home team.

The quest for a playoff berth and the big prize runs through the city up the freeway (and to a slightly lesser extent, the city by the bay).

While the Padres have roots in the Pacific Coast League, the Brooklyn Dodgers go way back to the National Association of Base Ball Players in the 186o’s. The PCL Padres introduced baseball to San Diego as far back as the 1930s. In fact, Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams got his start in the sport in 1937 at the age of 18 in the PCL.

Decade after decade, the Dodgers have owned the Padres, as compiled by Overall, the Padres have won 410 and lost 498 in their matchups.

Only the San Diego teams of the eighties beat L.A.


2020’s 11-21

2010’s 67-120

2000’s 89-90

1990’s 71-68

1980’s 95-78

1970’s 71-109

1960’s 6-12

Since 2010, the Padres have not won a season against the Dodgers.

2010    10-8

2011    5-13

2012    7-11

2013    8-11

2014    7-12

2015    5-14

2016    8-11

2017    6-13

2018    5-14

2019    6-13

2020    4-6

2021    7-12

In 2010, San Diego led the division for 148 days and by 6.5 games on August 25th. But the San Francisco Giants took over the top spot in September. Position players included Tony Gwynn, Adrian Gonzalez, David Eckstein, Will Venable Yorvit Torrealba, Miguel Tejada, Chase Headley, and Scott Hairston. Clayton Richard (14-9), Jon Garland (14-12), Mat Latos (14-10), Wade LeBlanc (8-12) Kevin Correia (10-10) made up the starting rotation. The Padres (90-72) finished just two games behind the Giants, while the Dodgers finished fourth in the division with a solid record of 80-82.

To a lesser extent, the Giants (423-477) have also dominated the Padres. But San Diego actually has a better record than San Francisco in four decades.

2020’s 13-16

2010’s 100-87

2000’s 99-80

1990’s 65-71

1980’s 84-91

1970’s 104-72

1960’s 12-6

Since the Padres’ inception in 1969, the Dodgers have won four World Series Titles (1977, 1981, 1988, 2020). Los Angeles also made it the big dance in 1974, 1978, 2017, and 2018. The Padres have ascended to the World Series only twice in their history, 1984 and 1998. All told, the Padres have appeared in one Wildcard game (a win), five Division Championships (one win), two League championships (two wins), and two World Series (zero wins).

More surprising than the domination of the Dodgers and the Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a 224-198 record against the Padres.  Of the teams in the division, only the Colorado Rockies at 230-253 have a losing record against the Padres overall.

Finally, last year the Padres made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. During the regular (albeit mini-season), the team had a record of 5-5 against the D-Backs, 7-3 against the Rockies, 8-2 against the Giants. However, the Dodgers won nine of 13 games.

In 2021, the Dodgers (110) and Giants (109) led all of baseball in wins. The Padres, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory mid-season, ended up with a losing record of 79-83 and a winning percentage of .488–good for third place ahead of the 74-87 Rockies and 52-110 Diamondbacks.

Head-to-head in the division, the Padres had losing records against the Dodgers (7-12), the Giants (8-11), and, surprisingly, against the Rockies (8-11). San Diego did manage to win the series against the Diamondbacks 11-8, a team with the worst record in all of baseball with 52 wins against 110 losses.

Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

On the good-news front, the Padres did have three regular players with an OPS of 120 or higher: Fernando Tatis Jr. (166), Manny Machado (131), and Jake Cronenworth (122). However, five Giants’ players and six Dodgers’ players surpassed that mark.

Particularly  galling a former Padre player and coach, Dave Roberts, has managed the Dodgers to a record of 542-329, a 622 winning percentage over the last six years. In December 2004, the Boston Red Sox traded Roberts to Padres. In 2005 Roberts batted .275 over 129 games. He moved to left field to make way for Mike Cameron in the 2006 season and had career highs with a .283 batting average, 13 triples, and 49 stolen bases. In the 2006 NLDS, he led the team with a .438 BA. Unfortunately, in the offseason, he signed with the Giants.

After Roberts’ playing days had come to an end, he agreed to coach first base for the Padres in 2010. He later moved to bench coach for Bud Black, even managing one game after general manager A. J. Preller fired Black. At the time, the Padres were six games out with a 32-33 record but ended up in fourth place at 74-88. In the offseason in 2015 hired by the Dodgers as manager.

The Padres, of course, are again searching for a manager. Since Roberts left, the Padres have gone through four managers: Pat Murphy, Andy Green, Rod Barajas (for just eight games), and Jayce Tingler. Only Tingler has a winning record (.523)

Of course, Roberts and the Dodgers have seemingly endless piles of money sitting around and lead all baseball with a $175 million payroll. However, Padres’ ownership has given Preller $126 million to play with, which ranks ninth in baseball.

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The Padres have been challenged with injuries, especially to starting pitchers. But the Dodger have not immune to such problems. In fact, since before the season began, L.A. has lost key pitchers, including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Danny Duffy, Yadier Alvarez, and Dustin May.

Currently, the Atlanta Braves lead the Dodgers 3-2 in the National League Championship series. Atlanta needs just one more win, but Los Angeles has proven it will scratch and claw until the bitter end. For the Padres to beat L.A., the team will have to deploy the same tactics instead of folding toward the end of the regular season.

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