This week marks Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game break, so let’s use this opportunity to evaluate how the San Diego Padres are doing at mid-season.
At the start of this special season, the San Diego Padres’ 50th anniversary campaign, fans finally had reason to hope. The ball club had uncharacteristically signed marquee free agent infielder, Manny Machado, to a ten-year, $300 million dollar contract. In addition, it was hoped that previous free agent pickups, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, would finally produce. Young sluggers, Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes had shown a lot of promise in 2018. Young blue chipper, Fernando Tatis Jr, couldn’t be kept off the big league roster after an outstanding Spring Training, and veteran second baseman, Ian Kinsler, was brought in to anchor the young infield, while another blue-chipper, Luis Urias, continued to gain experience in Triple-A. I was hoping for a .500 season, which was admittedly optimistic after last year’s 66-96 debacle.
Well, here we are at the All-Star break, with the Padres’ record at 45-45 and sitting at third-place in the NL West. Not great, but not terrible. This is actually the first time the Padres are at .500 or above at the break since 2010. Let’s take a look at the individual players:
1B –Eric Hosmer (.287, 13 HRs, 62 RBIs) – After a lackluster season last year, Hosmer has rewarded the Padres’ 2018 free agent signing with a solid first half.
2B – Ian Kinsler (.217, 8 HRs, 19 RBIs) – Has been a disappointment offensively. Infield utility sub, Greg Garcia (.264, 3 HRs, 20 RBIs), now gets the nod against right-handed pitching. Young Luis Urias still has to figure out major league-level pitching, but is doing well at Triple-A El Paso.
SS – Fernando Tatis Jr. (.327, 14 HRs, 33 RBIs) – The 20-year-old phenom had a serious hamstring pull that kept him out of the lineup from April 29th to June 5th. The rest of the time, he’s played like the NL Rookie of the Year. An amazing talent at the plate and with the glove. I’ve been following the Padres for fifty years and I can very safely say the franchise has never had another rookie who played at this exceptional level.
3B – Manny Machado (.266, 20 HRs, 58 RBIs) – Manny started off with a cold bat, but he’s starting to heat up (.323 last 30 games). One of the game’s best defensive infielders.
RF – Franmil Reyes (.253, 25 HRs, 42 RBIs) – Affectionately nick-named, “Franimal,” the Dominican is power personified with 25 dingers at the break.
CF – Wil Myers and Manuel Margot – I don’t enjoy saying this, but the Myers (.217, 12 HRs, 27 RBIs, 104 SO) experiment is over. It’s time for the Padres to cut the cord. Margot (.242, 5 HRs, 18 RBIs) is merely serviceable in centerfield.
LF – Hunter Renfroe (.252, 27 HRs, 49 RBIs) – That’s not a typo, folks. Renfroe’s 27 dingers ranks #4 in the NL at the break. Other teams can only dream of having a young, power-duo like Renfroe and Reyes in the outfield.
C – Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia – Hedges (.185, 6 HRs, 23 RBIs) has been a big disappointment offensively. Young Mejia (.211, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs) is getting more playing time, but is not quite ready to hit major league pitching.
Pitching – The starting rotation of Joey Lucchesi, Matt Strahm, Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Eric Lauer, and Logan Allen , the youngest in MLB, has done surprisingly well given their overall lack of experience. Paddack is an exceptional young talent. However, the middle relievers are sub-mediocre. Closer Kirby Yates’ 30 saves leads all of MLB and he’s the Padres’ sole representative on the NL All-Star roster.
Bottom line: After a very disappointing 66-96 record last year, it was hoped the 2019 Padres, led by Manny Machado, would at least be competitive and building a foundation towards a 2020 or 2021 run at the NL pennant. So far so good. Props to Manager, Andy Green, for adroitly guiding MLB’s youngest roster. The Padres’ weaknesses (CF, RP) are starkly obvious and it’s up to General Manager A.J. Preller to address those needs.