This year’s San Diego Padres squad has legitimate World Series hopes for the first time in at least two decades. As a matter of fact, the Padres have the third-highest odds to win the World Series in 2021, according to Oddsshark.
The two teams ahead of them? The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers who are fresh off a title themselves.
The Padres have spent a ton of money and traded away a lot of players and prospects as GM A.J. Preller has gone all-in on this team.
Everybody knows about that. In what’s going to be a much-needed sigh of relief and change of pace for Padres fans, especially those fans that witnessed losing season after losing season, they have come a long way.
With Opening Day countdown in the single digits, it’s fun to look back at the previous Opening Day lineups the Padres have put out there- at least now it is.
Padres Five Years Ago
The 2017 Padres Opening Day lineup was, well, just look for yourselves.
- Manuel Margot
- Wil Myers
- Yangervis Solarte
- Hunter Renfroe
- Ryan Schimpf
- Austin Hedges
- Erick Aybar
- Jhoulys Chacin
- Travis Jankowski
That was five years ago, believe it or not. The Padres took on the Dodgers on Opening Day in a game the Dodgers won with a football score of 14-3.
Yes, the Padres starter was Chacin. They also “featured” Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, and Luis Perdomo, among other hurlers that shall not be named for the sake of Padres fans everywhere. Other pitchers to get starts included Jered Weaver, Jarred Cosart, and Jordan Lyles.
Dinelson Lamet was a starter that season as a 24-year-old, finishing with a 7-8 record and an ERA of 4.57.
On the surface, the lineup isn’t terrible. However, once you get past Renfroe- and arguably Schimpf- it’s basically automatic outs. To add insult to injury, the only Padres hitter with a batting average above .300 was Christian Villanueva. Of course, it helps that Villanueva only played 12 games.
How can you not root for @wilmyers after all the years he’s been grinding for this team??
🎥: circa 2017 pic.twitter.com/PVEv28jOKZ
— Allison Edmonds (@aedmondstv) March 28, 2021
Carlos Asuaje and fan-favorite Jose Pirela played in more than half the games that year as the Padres finished 71-91 and fourth in the National League West, a true miracle that they didn’t finish with 100 losses.
The Padres offense ranked 15th in seven categories, and that’s no surprise considering that’s a lineup they trotted out more often than not.
That was a terrible flashback.
The Padres: Five Years Later
However, five years later and the 2021 version is night and day better. It’s not even comparable. The only starters left from that squad are Lamet and Wil Myers. The rest have either hung up their cleats, been traded as part of Preller’s overhaul of the roster, or are playing overseas.
It’s rather remarkable what Preller has done in just a few years. For starters, he signed Eric Hosmer to a huge contract.
Eric Hosmer passed his physical. His eight-year, $144 million contract with the Padres is official. He will wear No. 30.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) February 20, 2018
That was only the beginning. Then they brought in Manny Machado on a record-breaking contract at the time.
After yesterday, Manny Machado's contract with the Padres tops the list for biggest free-agent contracts in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/7z0PL4jfIv
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) February 20, 2019
Then came the deals for Mike Clevinger via trade as well as the majority of the roster. This offseason alone netted Blake Snell and Yu Darvish as they sit atop the rotation for the next couple of years, with Joe Musgrove also joining the Pads. They acquired Chris Paddack, Tommy Pham, Jake Cronenworth, Trent Grisham, Austin Adams, Dan Altavilla, and so many others.
Back in 2016, the White Sox traded Fernando Tatis Jr. and Erik Johnson to the Padres for James Shields and cash. @JA_Todd explains how this painful deal came about for the Sox:https://t.co/eJ6ssIDWXT pic.twitter.com/hg2FwDFfoE
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) April 2, 2020
A.J. Preller Deserves a Statue
Whether or not the Padres win this season, the man needs a statue. In just a few years, he has completely turned around this roster from a near-100 loss squad to a team that is in the thick of World Series contention, not just now but for the next few years and the foreseeable future.
Want to watch MacKenzie Gore work? You're in luck. pic.twitter.com/bESIzISUPk
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 23, 2021
Mike Clevinger should come back in 2022 with a vengeance and give the Padres arguably the best top-to-bottom rotation in all of baseball.
With Opening Day mere days away, the Padres are going to roll out one of the best, most well-rounded lineups and rosters in the entire major leagues. When’s the last time that sentence was true?
Stay tuned and gear up. It’s going to be a wild ride and a season full of outstanding, terrific baseball if the Padres live up to the hype even a tiny bit.
Despite all these moves, the Padres still have a plentiful farm system with seven prospects in the top 100. That’s even more impressive considering all the moves the team has made.
The Padres take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Opening Day.
The game is set for Thursday at 1:10 PM (PST) at Petco Park and Yu Darvish will get the nod in the first of a four-game set.