A look at five potential X-factors who may be significant for the San Diego Padres this coming season.
For what has seemed like a very long and rumor-filled offseason, the 2020 San Diego Padres are finally all in camp with hopes of making this season a memorable one. Plenty of moves to add pieces were made during the winter, while some never materialized past smoke in mirrors. Whether your preference was for more to be done, or not, A.J. Preller made the team better from last year’s finale.
There are players in camp with high expectations who have garnered much of the attention early on like star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., newcomer Tommy Pham, and ace of the staff Chris Paddack. There are also players like first baseman Eric Hosmer, newly acquired outfielder Trent Grisham, and thers who have more inconsistent levels of expectations depending on who is evaluating.
Just like every other team in baseball kicking off their Spring Training activities, the Padres have a group of talented individuals looking to maximize their potential and silence the lingering critics. Going hand in hand with high expectations and promising potential, though, are questions of uncertainty or doubt concerning that same not-yet-achieved potential.
This very theme applies to basically every position and player on the San Diego Padres, as well as their team on as a whole. Everything from injury concerns (Tatis Jr. missed close to half his rookie season from injuries), Consistency concerns (ace Paddack has only one season from which to emulate) and performance concerns (Hosmer has relatively underwhelmed in his two seasons in San Diego) have led most “experts” to predict around 80 to 84 wins this season.
Assume you trust these numbers and take the favorable 84-78 projection, certainly far from a disappointing season realistically, given the team’s 70-92 record in 2019. That improvement would be a significant jump forward, but would likely have the team watching the postseason from home. Accepting or expecting anything less than a playoff spot for this team, whether you’re a player or a fan at home, is what this franchise is looking to shake.
For the Padres to outperform these general projections and realistically compete for a playoff spot as currently constructed, a lot would have to go right. Players like Tatis Jr., Paddack, and star closer Kirby Yates would need channel their spectacular 2019 seasons and possibly improve on them, as hard as that might seem.
On top of their stars leading the way, they would likely need at least one, if not more, players to significantly exceed expectations. This type of player is what I like to categorize as an X-factor.
An X-factor on a baseball team usually refers to a player with a strong but unpredictable influence. A player that wouldn’t surprise anyone if things go well or better, but doesn’t have expectations for that to happen. More simply explained: the impact should be unexpected on some level, but not surprising.
The Padres have a handful of guys who fit into this category that will likely be on the Opening Day roster when the Padres start playing real games next month.
In no particular order, five candidates to make an X-factor type of impact on this team:
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