The Padres Actually Look Like Contenders
The San Diego Padres look like legitimate contenders early on thanks to what is shaping up to be the team’s best offense since 1998.
The offseason additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks have all paid early dividends, as the team finally has the offensive punch to back up a deep and underrated starting rotation.
Adding a legitimate No. 1 starter in James Shields and baseball’s best closer in Craig Kimbrel hasn’t hurt either.
Many questioned the wave of moves general manager A.J. Preller pulled off this winter, but they seem to have worked as the Padres have opened the season 10-5 and sit just one game behind the Dodgers for first place in the National League West. The team’s offense leads baseball in hits (154), is third in runs (80), fourth in batting average (.286) and fifth in OPS (.779). That follows a 2014 campaign where San Diego had one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball history.
And those offseason acquisitions that some questioned?
Kemp is hitting .361 and ranks second in the National League in RBI (14) and hits (22). Upton has an OPS of .930 while hitting three home runs and driving in eight runs so far, and Myers leads the NL in runs (14), has 20 hits and has shown mammoth power. Middlebrooks already has three home runs (one a monster shot) and 11 RBI and Norris has been a rock behind the plate while also hitting .321 with seven doubles.
Meanwhile, Shields has been nothing short of fantastic on the mound, setting the tone for the starting staff. “Big Game James” is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 19 innings. Kimbrel has converted each of his five save opportunities but did take a loss after entering a tie game on Saturday. Another offseason addition, Brandon Morrow, has been excellent as the team’s fifth starter, posting a 3.15 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 20 innings over three starts while not recording a decision.
When you factor in Tyson Ross (1-0, 4.08 ERA), Andrew Cashner (1-2, 2.65 ERA), Odrisamer Despaigne (2-0, 1.47 ERA) and the injured Ian Kennedy, the Padres have a wealth of starting pitching. The staff has combined for a 3.01 ERA.
That deep, talented rotation coupled with the team’s newfound offensive pop should keep the Friars in contention as the season progresses. Not to mention, these guys already have fantastic chemistry.
It’s a new day in San Diego, and A.J. Preller is the man to thank for it. If he figures out a way to build the Chargers a new stadium the man could apply for canonization in San Diego.
Next: K.C. rolling