It is 2020, and here are the San Diego Padres’ New Year’s resolutions.
As the calendar flips to 2020, there is an opportunity to assess what we have struggled with and make New Year’s resolutions to be better in 2020. The San Diego Padres should be no different heading into the new season. There is certainly room for improvement off of this year’s 70-92 record, and it starts with the basics.
The first thing the Padres need to work on is striking out less and putting the ball more in play. In 5,391 at-bats, Padres’ hitters struck out 1,581 times. That is a 29% strikeout rate, which means there was at least strikeout every inning. Only the Detroit Tigers, who had the worst record in the MLB, struck out more.
Although that mentality of a strikeout is just another out might be true, it is very misleading. If a batter fails to put the ball in play, there can’t be an error, runners can’t move up, and the batter can’t get a hit. If the Padres can put the ball in play more and strikeout less in 2020, they can surely win more.
The second New Year’s resolution for the San Diego Padres is for their starting pitchers to have more longevity during a game. Padres’ starters averaged five innings per start, which was 21st in MLB. Although starters don’t need to pitch six or more innings, it certainly helps.
If the starters go deeper into games, the bullpen will be less taxed when long road trips and September come. This may not be the most important resolution, but a strong rotation is crucial to being a contender. The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, who were the two teams in the World Series, were 2nd and 4th in innings per start in 2019.
The third New Year’s resolution for the Friars is to win more rubber matches in three-game series. After starting 2-0 in such rubber matches, the San Diego Padres would lose 10 of their last 11 rubber matches. It is critical to win these matches because the clubhouse moral is different following a series win compared to a series loss. These losses add up, and you must capitalize when a series is on the line.
The final San Diego Padres’ New Year’s resolution is to limit the errors. Last year’s 116 errors were the 5th most in the league. This is unacceptable and can’t happen if the Friars are serious about competing for a playoff spot in 2020. Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Fernando Tatis Jr. are all very capable fielders, but all had 14 errors or more. The competition in MLB is too good to give away free outs and extend innings. Thus errors must be cut down in 2020.
It will be very interesting to see how the newly acquired players and new coaching staff work to fix these issues from 2019. The 2020 season has the potential to be an exciting year for the San Diego Padres. Happy New Year, Friar Faithful.
Dominic is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Journalism. He also is the producer and co-host of the “Padres EVT Podcast.”