The Padres finished an up-and-down season in 2022 that ended with an improbable run in the postseason. Where does the season rank in franchise history?
This season, the Padres went through a lot. They opened in spring with devastating news that Fernando Tatis Jr. would miss at least three months after it was revealed he broke his wrist in the offseason.
Then, on the back of their leader Manny Machado, the team jumped out to a 30-19 start during the first two months. The team teetered and tottered from there, with a sub-.500 July thrown in. The summer swoon was real in San Diego, and many wondered if this team would suffer a similar epic collapse to the one we all witnessed in 2021.
Then A.J. Preller broke baseball Twitter and sent shockwaves around the sport by trading for one of the most elite talents in baseball, Juan Soto.
Just as that tsunami of optimism came crashing in, they received more unnerving news regarding their young superstar shortstop. Tatis tested positive for PEDs and was suspended 80 games. This sent the fanbase into a tailspin. It seemed to affect the team on the field for a spell, as well. They went 6-10 after the Soto trade and lost seven of their first 11 games after the Tatis news.
Then, somehow, some way, with some stern encouragement from manager Bob Melvin, the team came together and rallied for a playoff berth. Not only that, they made serious noise once arriving.
First, they stared down a best-of-three series on the road in New York with a Mets team that had Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom in the holster. The Padres won two of three to advance. Their reward? The 111-win Dodgers in the Division Series.
The Padres got hot at the right time, especially in the bullpen. They rode a wave of momentum to one of the most improbable postseason series wins in baseball history, beating the Dodgers three games to one to advance to the National League Championship Series.
The season ended after three grinding games in Philadelphia and a four-to-one series loss.
San Diego does not have a World Series title…yet. Obviously, anytime you have a chance to compete for the Commissioner’s Trophy, it’s one of the best seasons in that franchise’s history. The Padres have won two National League pennants in their history. The 2022 NLCS was their third-ever trip to baseball’s version of the semifinals.
It’s fairly easy to say that the top two seasons are the two in which the Padres won the pennant and played in the World Series, first in 1984 and then in 1998. The ’98 squad also holds the franchise record with 98 regular season wins. That team also defeated two 100-plus win teams in, the Astros and Braves, to make it to the Fall Classic against the dynasty-era New York Yankees. That is the clear best season in franchise history to date.
1984 featured much drama, including Steve Garvey‘s Cub-busting homer in the NLCS. Plus, it featured San Diego’s only win in any World Series game, against the Tigers, before falling four games to one.
After those two seasons, it’s up for debate. 2022 has a strong case to be the third-best season in Padres history. However, it may not be that simple.
This season’s version of the Friars finished with 89 wins, tied for fifth-best in team history. It ranked sixth in winning percentage when you factor in the lightning round of a season that was 2020. Plus, the 2022 squad did not win the division, while five other Padres clubs had in the past (1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, and 2006).
When looking at individual players along the way, Manny Machado starred for this season’s ballclub. His 7.4 fWAR was the fourth-highest single-season total in Padres history. Only Ken Caminiti‘s MVP campaign of 1996, along with the top seasons of Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield‘s careers in San Diego, stand higher. He has a legitimate MVP case.
The 2022 Padres went farther than any San Diego squad that wasn’t the 1984 or 1998 pennant-winning clubs. Reaching the NLCS in of itself is a fantastic accomplishment. Only four of the 30 teams in the league reach that level in any given season. The Padres made the final four in 2022. For that, plus with a few individual accomplishments, this was the third-best season in franchise history.