You Down with OBP? Not the Padres

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Credit: AP Photo

110 games into this wonderful 2018 season, the San Diego Padres find themselves with a record of 42-68, and 18.5 games out of first place.

Coming off the worst month in franchise history, it’s safe to say that last place is secured.

While digging up some stats, I stumbled upon something truly unbelievable.

The San Diego Padres ranked dead last in MLB on-base percentage in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Not-so-coincidentally, the 2018 Padres have the lowest OBP in all of baseball.


In order to win a baseball game, a team must score runs. In order to score runs, players must get on base. Infielders such as Jose Pirela (.310 OBP), Christian Villanueva (.277 OBP), Carlos Asuaje (.292 OBP), and Cory Spangenberg (.260 OBP) are awful at getting on base, and continue to get consistent playing time. To put things into perspective, the Chicago Cubs have a team OBP of .347.

Call up time

With the #1 ranked farm system in all of baseball, you’d think that A.J. Prefer would have called up a couple of prospects by now. This is not the case. Luis Urias deserves to be called up, and play every game. The 21-year-old has a .378 OBP this season and a .392 career OBP. Once on base, Urias ranks 9th in PCL runs scored.


Being a former collegiate catcher, watching Austin Hedges play defense is a dream come true. From pitch calling, to blocking, communicating, and throwing, he is clearly one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. Unfortunately, 25-year-old Hedges has struggled offensively. Although injuries have held Hedges back, his career .255 OBP is pitiful.

Francisco Mejia is playing quite well in Triple-A El Paso, hitting .333 with a .409 OBP since being traded to the Padres. Mejia is only 22 years old, and has a .346 OBP over seven seasons in the Minor Leagues. Although defense has been questionable at times, Mejia is still very young, and the Padres have shown that an elite defensive catcher does not simply create wins.


Although OBP is not the end-all statistic that I’ve made it out to be, it’s incredibly important. The defending World Series Champion Houston Astros led all of MLB in OBP in 2017. Ranking 2nd were the Indians, followed by the Yankees, Cubs, Rockies, Dodgers, and Twins, all of which made the 2017 postseason.

The answer is simple for A.J. Preller; call up Urias and Mejia. Both players are major league-ready, and need to become comfortable in the show.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? The Padres lose more games?

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12 thoughts on “You Down with OBP? Not the Padres

  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Uh yeah, been sorta asking about this one for a while…. Interesting no one has picked this up. Much appreciated sir! This has been a Padres disease as you have illustrated. We are not looking at a team or an organization who is building an identity or a psychology- especially at the plate, which I think matters????? We have a couple of “stars” (well semi-stars) who are faltering even in this category compared to their career numbers.

    This is exactly what scares me about the prospects in the system. Unless they are simply destined for fame, they have problems coming under the Padres’ tutelage. Preller is decent at swinging trades and good at identifying young talent but a lot has been missed in focusing on player development and coaching. This isn’t like collecting baseball cards back in the day, you actually have to create a culture. That hasn’t been the case for years.

    Gavin Burns, careful, EVT might boot you for an article like this. 😉 Thank you for being critical and objective. It’s getting old reading about players who’ve had a great week or two or some Brad Hand trade. Since the latter is done, I’m not really interested about how Wil is finally turning into an all-star. (oops he got hurt again). Hehe, maybe your next article can be about the Padres’ approach to fitness? Anyway, kudos.

  2. The team’s low OBP is disgraceful given the strong emphasis on OBP during Spring Training. Not sure whether it’s the coaching or the lack of talent.

    1. I’m going with coaching and player development. Historically we’ve been awful but here’s one way to look at it… Here are our successful homegrown products on the offensive side in the last 30 years: Tony Gwynn, Kevin McReynolds, Ruben Rivera (because he was successful stealing things in the Yankees locker room), and Chase Headley(?). I’m sure there’s more but I was so busy reading articles about all of our amazing prospect that I got lost and forgot.

      Hypothetically speaking, the second thing I’d address after establishing an international presence would be to actually make sure there was a system in place that would get these guys over the hump. But I’m not a Padres GM, I’m the second closest thing: a glue-huffing transexual living under the 163 near the Robinson exit.

      Right now we’re looking at guys like Renfroe, Margot, Spangy, Janko, etc and it’s basically like a smellier version of the Koi pond at PF Chang’s: No one really knows that they’re there but they are decorative and will get more glassy-eyed.

  3. This is as surprising as Wil Myers going back on the DL. How many times has he been on the DL, and how many times have the Padres been last in OBP? … and how many times has he been on the DL while paying the OF, and how many times at 1B?

    1. Lol! Yeah, took the words outta my mouth. Curious stuff. I wonder how that happened. Here’s another interesting thing… how about letting Tyson Ross walk for nothing in a SP starved market? I mean, sure 40 man is a concern but you can’t even swing a trade for a Rookie ball pitcher? Good Job AJ…. Oh wait, an article is coming about how that was a good thing……

  4. So you just found out the Padres are bad at getting on base and don’t you think if the answer was so “simple” as to call up Urias and Mejia that brighter minds who run the organization would have thought of that?
    Nice try, Gavin.

      1. Lol just wait. James Clark will weigh in with how we’re going to contend next year with these call-ups (then retract and say he meant 2021) and then we’ll have ten more articles about a Kirby Yates trade forthcoming. Either way, funny how these prospects are going to rescue us while we can’t even get Eric Hosmer to hit above .260. Just a sidenote, but that’s a really bad sign.

        Wait! Wil is hitting like .280!!!! *cough*

        But hey, it’s a good thing that coaching doesn’t matter (or conditioning, or even a mindset…. I mean, who needs that when we can have articles about a soon-to-be cut Padres player who hits .300 for a week. yes, we’ve got hope……………! On that note, I wouldn’t mind an article about how Big Mac is essentially useless, Andy Green was hired because he’s really good at passively agreeing and Dave Roberts is a terrible, terrible manager. Oh wait, that won’t happen. All is good in Padre land, especially to the pundits.

  5. If you want to do something about lousy OBP, how about we start with Myers and Hosmer? Their career numbers (.329 and .340) are far from the elite level they’re being paid like. The others you cite are simply not MLers.

    1. Me too, I figured they would be worse than themselves but I guess that’s not scientifically possible yet.

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