At the end of the 2017 season, Ron Fowler, executive chairman for the Padres, told Dan Sileo in an interview on the Mighty 1090: “It pains me to say this, but 81-81 is very reasonable for 2018.”
Since the Padres won only 71 games in 2017, a 10-game improvement would definitely be a huge step in the right direction.
However, other MLB prognosticators have quite a different view of how the team will fare once the games begin this season. For instance, Fangraphs predicts that the Padres will have a 71-91 record, identical to last year’s campaign. According to these predictions, only the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox will have worse records, while the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago Cubs will top the sport in wins.
According to Dan Szymborski’s article “Early projections for 2018 standings: ZiPS loves L.A.” written for ESPN. com, the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers will win their respective divisions. His prediction for the Padres comes in at 72-90, a one-game improvement over last year’s record.
Although these predictions will not excite Padres’ fans, the front office has assured us that the team will be playing competitive baseball in the not too distance future. Just last month, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune, quoted general manager A.J. Preller as saying: “We think that maybe we’re a year or two behind where the Yankees are at right now.” The Yankees had a 91-71 record in 2017 and made it to the playoffs. The Padres would have to improve by a whopping 20 wins in the near future to match New York’s numbers.
Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report (“Future Power Rankings: Where Every MLB Team will Stand in 3 Years”) has a less rosy view of the Padres’ chances of being competitive any time soon. According to his predictions, in three years the Padres will rank 20th in baseball, with only the San Francisco Giants, among division rivals, coming in behind them at 23rd.
According to Reuter, the Los Angeles Dodgers will rank 2nd behind the New York Yankees with the Arizona Diamondbacks 16th and the Colorado Rockies 14th.
Reuter does note that the Padres have “high-upside prospects” in the system and names pitchers Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, Anderson Espinoza, and Michel Baez; as well as position players Fernando Tatis Jr., Josh Naylor, and Luis Urias as definite positives for the not so distance future. However, he ends by cautioning that the “Padres’ window might not open until after 2020”.
Fortunately, predictions mean very little once the games actually begin. Just the thought of adding any of these highly regarded prospects to the big league team does certainly give the Friar faithful a dose of hope. As I fan, I’d rather follow a team with young, talented players like catcher Austin Hedges and center fielder Manuel Margot than watch the likes of Matt Kemp stumbling around in right field and Derek Norris leading the league with 13 passed balls in 2015.
A number of top prospects have been invited to big league camp this year, including pitchers Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, and Jacob Nix, as well as infielders Tatis Jr., Urias, and Naylor. After another year of seasoning in the minor leagues, one or more could certainly be included in the players called up at the end of the season.
Only time and 162 games will tell whether the Padres will reward Ron Fowler for his faith or end up with yet another lackluster season.