Continuing with the NL West, the next team in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season is the San Diego Padres, who finished in last place in the division last season
The Padres went 68-94 last season — their worst record since 2008 — and are entering this season with a team made up of mostly inexperienced hitters and veteran pitchers who don’t have a great track record in the majors. The team traded away C Derek Norris — who was subsequently released by the Nationals and then signed by the Rays — this winter, which means Austin Hedges, who has played 64 games in Major League Baseball, will begin the season as the starting catcher. The rest of the offense includes 1B Wil Myers — who signed a six-year contract extension with the team in January — and 3B Yangervis Solarte, who are the team’s best hitters, and 2B Ryan Schimpf, who showed some power in about half-a-season in the majors last year. The rotation is led by veteran SPs Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver, who comes to the Padres after spending the first 11 years of his career with the Angels.
Last season saw the Padres hit a MLB-worst .235 while finishing in the bottom half of the majors with 177 home runs. Their .689 OPS was tied for the second-worst in the majors. Solarte hit .286 with 15 home runs and a .808 OPS. Myers hit .259 with a team-high 28 home runs and a .797 OPS. Myers also stole 28 bases, which was the 10th-most in the National League. In 89 major-league games, Schimpf only hit .217, but he smacked 20 home runs in 330 at-bats and led the team with a .869 OPS. OF Alex Dickerson showed some promising signs in 84 games, hitting .257 with 10 home runs in 253 at-bats.
The pitching staff also wasn’t very good last season, finishing the year with a 4.43 ERA that was the eighth-worst in the majors. The pitchers recorded 1,222 strikeouts, which ranked in the bottom six, and the bullpen totaled 35 saves, which was fifth-worst. In 36 appearances last season, but only nine starts, with the Cubs and Padres, Richard posted a respectable 3.33 ERA but had just 41 strikeouts in 67.2 innings. Weaver started 31 games for the Angels last season and posted a career-worst 5.06 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 178 innings. SP Christian Friedrich, who is fighting for a spot in the rotation, put up a 4.80 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 129.1 innings. RP Fernando Rodney, who is now with the Diamondbacks, led the team in saves last season, but RP Brandon Maurer wasn’t far behind him with 13 saves. Maurer’s 4.52 ERA wasn’t great, but he did get 72 strikeouts in 69.2 innings.
Again, apart from Myers and Solarte there’s not a lot to get excited about with the Padres’ offense. Hedges could show the team something as he gets to be he everyday starter behind the plate, but the most promising prospect on the team is OF Hunter Renfroe, who hit .371 with 4 home runs in 11 games last season. Obviously a miniscule sample size, but if he can even be around the .275 mark with about 20 home runs for a full season, it would provide a significant boost to an offense that desperately needs it. Look for Renfroe as a potential NL Rookie of the Year candidate as the season progresses. There’s not a lot to talk about with the starting rotation, unless SP Luis Perdomo can put together a strong season, but that’s not likely after he put up a 5.71 ERA in his rookie season last year. There’s not a clear-cut closer in the bullpen, though Maurer will probably get the first shot at closing out games. RP Carter Capps could get some saves during the season, but he’s dealing with an elbow injury that could prevent him from being ready for Opening Day.
Barring a miracle, don’t expect the Padres to even come close to a .500 record this season. Not only are they the worst team in the division, but they’re probably one of the worst teams in the National League with a rotation made up of guys who would be at the backend of most teams’ rotations, if they even made the starting lineups on other teams.