It feels like only a few years ago that the San Diego Padres put out a team calendar that featured months showcasing players no longer on the team. Now, the league is putting out calendars showcasing the superstars of San Diego.
Less than five years ago, the Dodgers were trouncing the Padres on Opening Day, forcing them into having a position player take the pitcher’s mound. In 2020, the Padres and Dodgers faced off in the NLDS.
The tides have been quietly shifting at PetCo Park, and the Padres of the future are beginning to arrive.
The San Diego Padres
2020: Record: 37 – 23
2020 Finish: 2nd in the NL West, 2nd in the National League
Surprises in 2020
Above everything else, the 2020 San Diego Padres were consistent. Across the board, every single positional player showed up night after night, supporting each other. That kind of chemistry was incredible to watch, and is something we all glance over when discussing this squad.
The Padres explosive offense extends beyond their big marquee players. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is arguably the most exciting player in MLB, and his 2020 sophomore season was evidence that he’s only going to get better in the future. Manny Machado had another incredible year, similar to the one that saw him dealt at the deadline in 2018. Living up to your price tag is important in today’s game, and his top-3 NL MVP finish gives validation to his signing.
But it’s also the sneaky bats of Wil Myers, Jake Cronenworth, Trent Grisham, and even Eric Hosmer, where this lineup cooks. Specifically looking at Myers, the former Rookie of the Year has a higher Slugging Percentage than the aforementioned Tatis, Jr., and Machado in 2020. Myers hits in the middle of this lineup, yet rakes like a three-hole hitter.
This Padres offense was intense and tough to navigate for opposing pitchers throughout the season, and in 2021, that’s not going to change much.
Disappointments in 2020
If there is a disappointment in 2020, it has to be Chris Paddack.
Chris Paddack entered the 2019 season as the #66 ranked prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America, and a mid-thirties prospect according to Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. Ahead of Paddack on those lists was Mackenzie Gore, who honestly might as well be the second coming of Christ based on the anticipation of his MLB debut.
Paddack wasted no time stepping out of Gore’s shadow, putting up some truly insane numbers for March/April. During the first month of his MLB career, Paddack started six games for the Padres. Over that 6 game stretch, he held opposing hitters to just 14 hits and 7 earned runs.
That’s good enough for a 1.91 ERA and a 0.697 WHIP, putting up a whopping 9.7 K/9. The guy was on fire.
His second May start is where things began to crumble, and a pattern began to emerge. After his first seven starts, Paddack posted a 6-6 record, getting touched up for 4+ runs by big swinging teams. Paddack had 5 games over his final 19 starts where he gave up 4 or more earned runs. The teams who did that were the Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, and the Phillies twice. All of them boasting lineups with serious power.
Paddack’s ERA would steadily climb over the remainder of the season, topping out at 3.84 in late August, but that doesn’t mean that his season was lost. On the contrary, Chris Paddack was my #1 player to watch in 2020 for that exact reason.
Early on in 2019 season, when he was hotter than hell, Paddack shot venom at other rookies. As time went on and Paddack faltered, those other rookies (like Mike Soroka and Dakota Hudson) pulled ahead of him, eventually earning Rookie of the Year votes. Paddack received zero Rookie of the Year votes, despite having a solid season debut year.
After being passed over for Rookie of the Month in the first one of his career, he then failed to make the ROY ballot at the end of the year. There was no way Chris Paddack didn’t remember that prior to the 2020 season. No way.
And yet, 2020 was a similar picture. Granted this season is a much smaller sample size, Paddack once again started hot and then cooled towards the end of the season.
After beginning the season with a 1.68 ERA after hsi first two starts, Paddack’s next two months would see him finish with ERAs above 5.00, aided by the 9 home runs he surrendered in his six August starts.
Even pitching away from PetCo Park saw Paddack’s ERA double, as hitters hit .333 against him. There are still things to work on when it comes to Chris Paddack.
We’ve seen the fire her pitches with and we’ve seen the kind of competitor he is. Knowing all of those things, and now with the threat of losing his place as the face of a rotation, Paddack could be slipping to the backend of the Padres future rotation.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The San Diego Padres have been busy this offseason. Adding former Cy Young winner Blake Snell in a deal with Tampa Bay, acquiring Yu Darvish from the Cubs, and then topped it off by adding Joe Musgrove from the Pirates.
The San Diego Padres rotation is STACKED, and we haven’t even seen Mackenzie Gore in the majors yet. The Padres had youthful exuberance coming out of their ears in 2020, and this offseason they’ve added veterans with experience, and some with World Series experience. That’s something you can’t develop in a farm system, and it’s something the Padres have jolted their roster with.
There’s still the obstacle of getting passed division rival and recent World Series champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. But with the MLB’s new expanded postseason, all the Padres have to worry about is seeding.
Long story short, the San Diego Padres have spent the better part of the last few seasons in the basement, and we’re just now beginning to see what they’ll become. And what we’ve already seen makes them an easy World Series contender.
Projected 2021 Finish: 95-67, 2nd in the NL West
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