James Shields Can’t Solve The Biggest Padres Problem

Last week, I had the pleasure of being present at a panel of baseball people talking about 2015’s big stories, and one of the questions was, “are the Padres contenders?” Some said yes. Others said no. Most of the discussion centered on the rebuilt outfield of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers, mainly about how that could possibly come together on defense. Now, we’re hearing about how they may yet be the team that comes away with James Shields, who would inject some stability into what is a talented-but-fragile rotation.

Jeff will have more on that signing later, but obviously: Shields will help! Adding him makes for a rotation front four of Shields, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, and Tyson Ross, which is potentially pretty impressive. More innings from Shields means fewer that you need to rely upon from Odrisamer Despaigne, Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow, and that’s a good thing. Signing Shields and trading for Cole Hamels would help! Lots of things, likely and less so, would help. Here’s what I had wanted to ask that panel, though, especially those who believe that the reworked Padres are now contenders: How many people can actually name all four Padres starting infielders?

Obviously there’s a bit of hyperbole there, but the point is that this isn’t a question you want to be asking about a team that wants to be included in the October conversation. If you didn’t follow the team closely, would you be able to come up with Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Alexi Amarista, and Will Middlebrooks off the top of your head? Because this group, despite returning only one player who took more than 50% of the plate appearances at the same position last season, doesn’t look good. It’s actually a considerable issue, if you look at Steamer’s 2015 projections combined with our curated depth chart playing time inputs:

infield_war_2015

For a team that expects to be a contender this year, that’s not particularly encouraging, and it’s not only showing time from the four presumed starters. It also includes varying amounts of playing time from Clint Barmes, Tommy Medica, Yangervis Solarte, Jake Goebbert, and Cory Spangenberg, and while the exact dispersal might not play out in reality as we’ve guessed it will here, the general outlook is the same: Yikes.

Obviously, we’re focusing only on the infield here. Even more obviously, there’s much more to a baseball team than just the infield, things like the catchers and outfielders and pitchers and ballpark and manager and luck. It takes a lot of things to have a successful baseball team, and good teams can overcome weaknesses if they’re strong enough elsewhere. Now, whether or not the Padres are strong enough elsewhere to overcome a lousy infield is another conversation entirely, but that leads into an interesting question: How often does a team find success when its infield is an anchor, rather than an engine? Is it somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely?

To test that, I looked at the last five seasons of play and 150 team seasons, mapping the relationship between infield WAR and team wins. I used the positional splits in our leaderboards, so this is accounting only for value created while playing that position. (For example, the Blue Jays had seven players see time at first base last year, and Edwin Encarnacion compiled 3.0 of his 3.6 WAR there.) Unsurprisingly, there’s some relationship between having a good infield and winning baseball games. Also unsurprisingly, it’s not the strongest relationship you’ll ever see, because there’s so much more to a baseball team than just an infield.

Still, it’s not exactly a great omen for these Padres:

if-war-wins-10-14

It’s really hard to have an infield worth fewer than five wins above replacement and win even 80 games. It’s really hard to have an infield worth more than 15 wins above replacement and win fewer than 88 games. In between, there’s a wide variety of outcomes, though clearly it’s easier with better players. Better players win more ballgames. This isn’t a groundbreaking finding.

But it’s not impossible, is it? There’s an outlier to the upper left, and similar teams near the green line. If you’re looking for hope, that red dot to the upper left would be the 2012 Orioles, who somehow won 93 games despite managing just three WAR from an infield that was mostly made up of Mark Reynolds at first (with a little of a pre-breakout Chris Davis), a Robert Andino / Omar Quintanilla mess at second, a solid J.J. Hardy campaign at short, and Wilson Betemit-giving-way-to-Manny Machado at third. How’d they do it? All due respect to good years from Matt Wieters and Adam Jones, that was the Baltimore team that managed a hilariously unsustainable 29-9 record in one-run games, along with 16-2 in extra innings. So if the path is “be the luckiest team ever,” that’s a hard one to replicate.

Next to that is the dot that represents the 2012 A’s infield of Chris Carter, Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington, and Brandon Inge, who got by with some of the best outfield hitting in baseball and snuck into first place only on the final day of the season when the Rangers collapsed. This would seem to be probably the closest recent comparison point for these Padres, although those A’s were helped by good run prevention skills partially fueled by the outfield defense of Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp, and outfield defense might plague this particular Padres roster.

(If you’re curious, the team that had the best infield production yet still didn’t make the playoffs would be the 2011 Red Sox, who had baseball’s best offense, but won only 90 games because they could offer only two starting pitchers who were even league-average in Jon Lester and Josh Beckett; had it been in place at the time, they would have made the wild card play-in game.)

The obvious retort here is, “well, projections are only that, and I think the Padres infield will outplay that 5.6 WAR projection because: ____________.” And, fair enough. Perhaps they will. Let’s at least take a lap around the infield and see how San Diego got here, and whether there’s reason to hope for more than these players have provided in the past.

At first base, Yonder Alonso is headed into his age-28 season having only once taken 400 plate appearances in a year, missing multiple stints over the last two seasons due to right hand, wrist, and forearm injuries. (Though he got more plate appearances as the Padres first baseman than anyone last year, it was still fewer than 50%, particularly as the departed Yasmani Grandal saw a good deal of second-half time.) He’s had a 98 wRC+ over the last two years, 105 for his career, and Steamer sees him getting up to 112 along with nearly two wins this year. It’d easily be the best season of his career, and if healthy, doesn’t seem unattainable. This seems like a fair projection, even a generous one, for a player who has yet to show he can be more than average.

Second belongs to Jedd Gyorko, who followed up a good rookie season (111 wRC+, 2.5 WAR) with a disaster sophomore season (78 wRC+, 0.0 WAR), with reports of plantar fasciitis being one potential cause. Steamer predicts a bounce-back to a league-average bat and overall value, which isn’t unfair given how awful he was last year. Since he was much better after coming off a DL stint, nearly back to where he’d been as a rookie, there’s reason to have some expectations for production here. There’s just no cause to think he’s going to be better than he was in 2013, when he was good, not a star. If he can even match that, 2015 is a success, and of course there’s clear risk that he can’t.

It’s the left side that gets problematic, however. With the departed Everth Cabrera unemployed and mired in legal issues of his own making, the Padres look to promote utility guy Alexi Amarista into the role, along with support from veteran import Clint Barmes. Amarista’s wRC+ in his three big league seasons: 85, 75, 71. His Steamer projection: A perhaps generous 80. Valuable as a flexible backup, he’s barely above replacement as a starting shortstop. Not that Barmes is much of an alternative: At 36, he’s long since proven he’s not much of a bat, though he’s an acceptable fielder. We have this pair down for 0.6 WAR. That doesn’t feel incorrect.

In a post-Chase Headley third base world, there’s newcomer Will Middlebrooks, who has been injured, atrocious, or both over the last two seasons. Improved health would be welcome, but so would reversing this scary K% trend of 24.5 -> 26.2 -> 29.9. Steamer isn’t a fan, nor is there much reason to dream on Yangervis Solarte, a career minor leaguer who had a 135 wRC+ in his first two months in the big leagues last year, then only an 83 in the four months afterwards.

If the projections are down on these guys, well, it seems defensible all around. It’s certainly possible that Gyorko or Middlebrooks or even Alonso bounces back in 2015. It’s just very, very hard to see that happening all around the infield at the same time, and it’s pretty difficult to get to the playoffs with a porous infield. Maybe the Padres shake all this up by signing Hector Olivera; maybe if they ever get around to trading excess outfielders Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, or Carlos Quentin, they’ll do so in a way that brings back some infield support. Until then, this is what they’re going into the season with.

The Padres are going to be better than last year, almost certainly, and that’s a good thing. At the very least, they’re going to be considerably more entertaining than last year’s boring and unwatchable group, and that’s a very good thing. I think for a lot of Padres fans who have felt like the team was barely even trying for so many years, that alone might be enough, and we’ve seen how just being decent can pay off in the world of two wild cards. They’ve at least taken steps in the right direction this winter, and Shields is yet another one. To be true contenders, though, something’s got to be done about that infield. It’s a problem big enough that it won’t just go away on its own.



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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times and TechGraphs, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.


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Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

That 2012 A’s infield had the breaking-out Donaldson, who started the last 47 games of the year at 3B. Inge barely played in the second half. Also Brandon Moss and his .954 OPS played more games at 1B than Carter too.

Obsessivegiantscompulsive
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1 year 3 months ago

Great analysis and article! I enjoyed reading it.

Rob
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Rob
1 year 3 months ago

Did you forget that the Padres traded for Derek Norris? That should improve the IF WAR for the Padres.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

yeah, have been assuming 1B is Alonso/Norris platoon. 2B is Gyorko. 3B is some combo of Middlebrooks & Solarte. SS looks like it’s up in the air as of now with 2 back ups heading the list – Barmes and Amarista.

Weston Taylor
Member
Weston Taylor
1 year 3 months ago

Nice story, Brim. I enjoyed it.

Weston Taylor
Member
Weston Taylor
1 year 3 months ago

Also, are the Padres now more likely to finish higher in the division than the Giants?

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

I think they will be fairly close. I could buy an argument for either being 2-3 games better than the other.

jmpmk2
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jmpmk2
1 year 3 months ago

And how far away are the Padres from being last in the division with the same roster? I would assert they might be just as close. The Diamondbacks might have something to say about it, but the Friars are another Upton down year and a Kemp injury from being a wasteland for offense.

That and half the value they accumulate with their bats will be given back with their gloves. I just don’t share the same vision.

LHPSU
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LHPSU
1 year 3 months ago

Are the Rockies so bad that you’ve disowned them from the division entirely?

Eliassen Sports Bureau
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Eliassen Sports Bureau
1 year 3 months ago

As a Rox fan sadly the answer is yes

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

Sure, I could see the Padres winning like 75ish games if they lose a key player to injury for an extended period of time. Just like I could envision the Giants winning around 75 if they lose MadBum or Posey for an extended period.

JB
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JB
1 year 3 months ago

Nice article. I didn’t realize their projected infield was that bad, but then again, neither did I know who they were.

Kirk
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Kirk
1 year 3 months ago

It certainly isn’t a good infield but before the offseason their OF was just as bad. So at least they made some progress on the offensive front. I guess they could have tried to sign Pablo or Hanley instead of Shields but they didn’t have a lot IF options in FA or on the trade market.

Hurtlocker
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Hurtlocker
1 year 3 months ago

The problem with the Padres is they still look like a third place team in the NL West, even with the marked improvement. It seems unlikely that two wild card teams would come from the NL West.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

3rd behind?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

Dodgers, obviously, and probably Giants, who are still projected for more wins, and who are the Giants.

Larry
Guest
Larry
1 year 3 months ago

Bip, it’s an odd numbered year. The Giants skip those years. In 2011 they were 86-76, and in 2013 they were 76-86. Sabean re-signs guys who did well the even year and replaces them when they flop the odd year.

mike
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mike
1 year 3 months ago

Is that you Larry Baer?

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
1 year 3 months ago

I assume Matt Kemp will work his way to 1B before too long, no? If nothing else, his bat should be reasonable for a 1Bman.

But s far as 2015 goes, the Friars’ infield is going to be less than ideal. Gyorko might hit 25 HR and still not produce 2 WAR due to his lack of any other skills. Solarte should get more playing time than Middlebrooks at 3B (who probably is a platoon 1Bman in a rational world). Solarte at least will catch balls that Middlebrooks would merely watch sail past him.

If the Padres are in contention at the trading deadline (which is reasonably foreseeable) they seem likely to trade some remaining minor leaguers for a shortstop… if one is available.

David
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David
1 year 3 months ago

I’m assuming you haven’t watched Solarte play third base. He had, by a wide margin, the worst reaction time of anyone I’ve seen play the hot corner at Double A when he was in New Britain, and he wasn’t any better in the majors last year.

Timbooya
Member
Timbooya
1 year 3 months ago

Moving Kemp to first could be the easiest way for the Padres to improve their team. Not only do they put his bat in a much less risky position for injury, but they could push Upton to Right and use one of their many all-defense, no offense outfielders in center to help the corner guys.

loran pilling
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loran pilling
1 year 3 months ago

Maybin plays a great center field. Venable is another corner outfielder that was team MVP in 2013 but slipped badly. I would play Maybin if Myers can’t cover it. Maybin isn’t injury prone. He just plays the position so recklessly. He looked like a four tool guy with a lack in lots of power which was OK before the fences were moved in 10 -15 feet before the 2014 season. Quentin said he’d wave his no trade clause but he’s a AL DH with a $8M plus salary. Can he hit 35 HR’s as a DH? Definitely possible. Might get something if we eat a couple million of his salary. That’s 5 if you put Kemp at first.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Really good article! The Padres are definitely better, though.

Re-reading Kiley’s analysis of the Padres system (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/evaluating-the-prospects-san-diego-padres/), it doesn’t look like they have too many promising infield prospects. I think they just ride out the infield they have and hope for the best. They’ll be fine. Not great, but fine.

Harrius
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Harrius
1 year 3 months ago

At least one promising infield prospect is presently in their system: Trea Turner.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Trea Turner is currently a PTBNL in a trade involving the Nationals. His days with the Padres are numbered, so I didn’t consider him in San Diego’s long-term plans.

John Caps
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John Caps
1 year 3 months ago

Nope. Traded to the Nationals.

David
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David
1 year 3 months ago

Congratulations, Harrius. You managed to be both literally correct and patently wrong all at the same time.

Harrius
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Harrius
1 year 3 months ago

Hence the “presently.”

Mike Ed
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1 year 3 months ago

Though on the surface these numbers may be telling there is still something that they can not project. The growth of a player. 2 of the 4 players mentioned (Alonzo, Gyorko, Middlebrooks) were top 100 MLB prospects as recently as 2 years ago. All are 27 or younger and all are coming off of the worst seasons of their professional careers. In short this s a young group who has the ability to grow with the team. In 2013 Gyorko hit .249 with 23 HR’s and was 6th in the ROY voting. Similar to Meyers he saw a sophomore slump and a bout with the injury bug slow his production. But if you look at his numbers after coming back to the team from injury they were on par if not better than his rookie campaign. He also boasts a .982 career fielding position at a position (2B) that is not his natural position. I would bet on one of if not all of those players preforming well above last years production level. The only place that is a true question mark would have to be SS where we have nothing but career platoon players.

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

“2 of the 4 players mentioned (Alonzo, Gyorko, Middlebrooks)”

3? At any rate, I think all of the infield positions can rightly be called question marks – you don’t know if you’re getting the highly touted version (of Alonso or Middlebrooks) or the 2013 breakout version (of Gyorko) or the broken and awful version of all three that we saw last year. There are no sure things there, far from it.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

Though on the surface these numbers may be telling there is still something that they can not project. The growth of a player.

They can to an extent. They factor in the tendency of players of particular ages to develop. You point out that many of those players had career-worst seasons, but the projections have most of them returning to their production of previous seasons. Alonso is projected to have his best season yet in 2015.

The article wasn’t based on last year’s stats, it was based on this year’s projections.

Will
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Will
1 year 3 months ago

While it seems like they’d be selling these guys for pennies on the dollar, I can’t see how they don’t do something here:

“maybe if they ever get around to trading excess outfielders Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, or Carlos Quentin, they’ll do so in a way that brings back some infield support.”

Roger
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Roger
1 year 3 months ago

I’m not sure you can call trading those guys, even below market value, “pennies on the dollar” — more like pennies on a very slightly larger number of pennies, maybe.

Larry
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Larry
1 year 3 months ago

Combined, those three will make $19.25 million in 2015. That’s a lot of pennies. Another guy, Cory Luebke, who hasn’t pitched since 2012, will make $5.25 million though he won’t be ready from his second Tommy John until July at the earliest. All got their current contracts from Josh Byrnes.

Randy Jones
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Randy Jones
1 year 3 months ago

They say Luebke is feeling “normal” and healthy and will be ready for ST or near to it and should be ready much early than July, like May.

If things go according to plan of course.

Dan
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Dan
1 year 3 months ago

So which infield of the past five years combined for a negative 4 WAR?

LeeTro
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LeeTro
1 year 3 months ago

I’m pretty sure it was the ’13 Marlins.

agam22
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agam22
1 year 3 months ago

I believe this is correct, as they managed the incredible feat of getting sub-replacement level production at each position. 2013 had some really brutal infields, between the Marlins, the Keppinger/Konerko led White Sox and the Brewers, who managed a -4.8 WAR at first base. But only the Marlins had anchors at all 4 positions

Alan
Guest
Alan
1 year 3 months ago

Does infield WAR count double? I must have missed that.

The Padres infield is not great, and yes, we’re fairly close to the season opening, but it seems to me that a team projection is a team projection and the weak infield is actually a chance to improvement compared to a team with no real weaknesses.

I doubt Preller is completely done. And I don’t think the infield you listed plays nearly as much as you think it will.

Arte Moreno
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Arte Moreno
1 year 3 months ago

In this case 57%

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

“And I don’t think the infield you listed plays nearly as much as you think it will.”

Are there better options in-house?

Alan
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Alan
1 year 3 months ago

Do they have to be in house? Has the trade deadline passed already?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

Yes. It was moved up to January 31 :(

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 3 months ago

AJ Preller has gone out and collected a ton of upside. Players like Kemp, Myers, Upton and Middlebrooks have very high ceilings. I think you can say Shields has a high ceiling, since he’s had his share of 200 K seasons. Even some of the existing Padres players who Preller has kept around, from Cashner and Ross to Gyorko and Alonso, have solid, or in some cases very good, upside.

He also seems to see value in going after (or sticking with) players with upside regardless of whether their most recent performance was disappointing (which I think you could say is the case for Myers, Middlebrooks, Gyorko and Alonso). Most projection systems just aren’t going to value those kinds of guys as much — upside players coming off a down year.

Preller also clearly thinks defense doesn’t matter. He’s going for great pitching and generating runs scored. Honestly that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me as a model for winning.

It’s a bit of hyperbole but Preller’s approach could even be seen as being at war with the WAR/Steamer approach.

There’s a little bit of zigging to everyone else’s zagging and being bold enough to go with your own approach while everyone else does it differently, which at it’s heart is sort of what Moneyball was all about. He seems to be exploiting some potential market inefficiencies. And he’s trusting his own model of what it means to put your team in position to win baseball games.

Alan
Guest
Alan
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t think it is anywhere accurate to say Preller’s approach is at war with the WAR/Steamer approach…

…Unless you define the latter to be a large amount of confidence in a weighted mean projection and an assumption that all players have the same probability of upside.

In other words, I probably agree with you, but I think the way you stated makes it sound like Preller fundamentally disagrees with statistical analysis. I doubt he does, but I also bet he realizes that Justin Upton’s upside is –technical term here — shitloads higher than Seth Smiths and rather than handwaving it he accounts for it.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 3 months ago

I think he’s emphasizing offense and pitching WAR and ignoring an overall WAR that includes defense, so it’s maybe a matter of emphasis rather than being at small-caps war with the approach.

And he seems to be emphasizing ceiling/upside over a straight projection.

So maybe not completely at war with WAR/Steamer but maybe offering up more of an Offense WAR/Pitching WAR/Upside model that is fundamentally different in some ways from WAR/Steamer and might help him identify some advantages in the market for players if his model is valid.

Larry
Guest
Larry
1 year 3 months ago

A.J. Preller actually said his philosophy is to collect talent, and when you get it, go out and get some more. He’s apparently assuming the cream floats to the top so he targets high upside and years of control, like Myers and Middlebrooks. He’s putting a lot of faith in the manager and coaches to make it all work on the field.

BTW the new owners have emphatically stated they’re a MID MARKET team, and intend to act like one. They’re right except the media market is small, but the sports network, FSSD, now pays 2-3 times what their old TV/radio contracts netted, it goes up over time, and the team owns a piece of the network.

They’re now actually benefiting from Jeff Moorad’s cheapo payrolls because he used the money saved to pay down debt and reduce the purchase price of the layaway deal he had with John Moores, who was taking money out of the ball club while his messy divorce was pending.

It also helps that despite dreadful team watchabilty, they’ve drawn 2.1-2.2 million the last 4 years, more than KC drew last year. With an exciting team, they can get back to the 2.8 million average of the first 4 years at Petco (which they part own), and with concessions that’s a big chunk of revenue.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t see how focusing on offense and pitching and ignoring defense is a good model. Wouldn’t trying to improve as much as possible in every facet be the best model? Doing anything else leaves you open to being exploited by someone who understands player value holistically.

However, I do see why going to high-upside players makes sense for a team in the Padres’ position. They are a small market team, and they also don’t have much of a core to work with. If the best they can do with their available resources is build a team projected for 84 wins, then if they have mostly low-variance guys, they may have a swing of 80 to 88 wins, but with high-variance guys, they might swing from 76 to 92 wins. Only the latter has the possibility for a near-certain playoff team.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 3 months ago

As far as the focus on offense and pitching over defense, I see two possible arguments for it.

One would be that the allocation of WAR across those categories matters as you construct a roster — you don’t want a team that can’t hit or pitch but plays ridiculously stellar defense. If you had 45 WAR to allocate would it be optimal to spread it 15-15-15 across hitting-pitching-defense or could you make a case for 20-20-5?

Another argument is that small market teams have to look for ways to find bargains. If all the teams are paying a market value of X dollars per WAR, and you have fewer resources, you can’t build a team by just buying WAR at market prices. So you might look for weaknesses in the $/WAR market and say, for example, defensive metrics are flawed so they are not worth what the market thinks they are worth.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

If you had 45 WAR to allocate would it be optimal to spread it 15-15-15 across hitting-pitching-defense or could you make a case for 20-20-5?

Since WAR is supposed to be scaled linearly with wins, I don’t see intuitively why distributing the WAR in different areas would produce a different result. It’s certainly harder to allocate 30 of your 45 WAR to defense, but that is because the spread in value among players defensively isn’t that large, but if you managed to do it, I don’t see why it should be worse than another allocation.

It seems like defense is still undervalued by the market. Of course if the defensive rating are consistently biased, so that players on the extreme ends of the spectrum are never as far out as they seem, and the Padres have recognized this, then they may have an advantage. If Matt Kemp is actually just a little below average in the field, and not a trainwreck, the deal looks a lot better for them. However, I don’t know if we have evidence to substantiate this theory at this time.

BMarkham
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BMarkham
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t think you know as much about the projections systems as you think. Preller has improved the roster. You don’t have to pretend he just built a WS contender out of nothing though. He took a 72 win team in baseruns to a team projected for 80 wins. That’s a great improvement for one offseason. Just don’t expect them to be a 90 win team or anything like that.

randplaty
Guest
randplaty
1 year 3 months ago

PECOTA is more bullish than Steamer putting the Padres IF at 7.2 WARP.
ZiPS also looks a bit more bullish than steamer… probably in the 6ish range.

So basically you chose the most bearish projections to do this article.

It looks like if the Padres IF puts up 8 WAR, it’d be within the range of playoff acceptable infields. So really you’re looking for a slight boost… a tiny bit of luck.

Its pretty obvious the Padres are a playoff contender (not necessarily favorite) at this point on paper. It’s pretty tough to say they aren’t. Not a great infield by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely a playoff contender.

Arte Moreno
Guest
Arte Moreno
1 year 3 months ago

Meh.
Don’t know about PECOTA but ZiPS has higher projections for LA, CO, & AZ, too.

randplaty
Guest
randplaty
1 year 3 months ago

This article compares Padres projected IF WAR to historical playoff teams. It doesn’t matter if LA, CO, or AZ have higher projections also. None of those teams are likely going to win the WC, which is what SD is aiming for. LA is going to win the division and CO & AZ are going to be in the cellar.

Josh Vitters
Guest
Josh Vitters
1 year 3 months ago

I think the point was both CO and AZ have more projected WAR than the Padres according to ZiPS.

randplaty
Guest
randplaty
1 year 3 months ago

ZiPS considers the Padres a legit playoff contender this year:
http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12301148/mlb-james-shields-good-buy-san-diego-padres?

Basically ONLY Steamer says they’re not, and that’s the projection system that Mike P chose to use.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

Steamer doesn’t even say they aren’t, it just has the most pessimistic view of an infield that all three consider to be pretty bad.

matt w
Guest
matt w
1 year 3 months ago

Presumably Mike didn’t choose to use ZiPS because ZiPS isn’t out for the league yet? And post-Nate Silver PECOTA… well.

chris
Guest
chris
1 year 3 months ago

I love the idea that Middlebrows was both injured and atrocious at certain points — like, while he was sitting there rehabbing his injury, he was a terrible hitter. Mind you, I am NOT disagreeing!

marklemke
Member
marklemke
1 year 3 months ago

Nice article! I wonder why the Padres didn’t sign Kang, given their uninspiring collection of infielders. Maybe they’ll make a serious run at Moncada.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 3 months ago

How does the correlation IF WAR and Wins compare to, say OF WAR and Wins /SP WAR and Wins/RP WAR and Wins? Maybe IF WAR has the lowest correlation coefficient with wins out of the 4 position sections.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

I’d be pretty surprised if any of those correlations were significantly different, considering they are all scaled to be one-to-one with team wins.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 3 months ago

The OF isn’t that good either. Man, are they gonna give back some runs on D, which is course particularly important in Petco. Weird as it sounds, I think they actually might be better off re-trading Myers and running Maybin out there in CF. At least then the D won’t be a complete dumpster fire.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Apparently, AJ Preller read this article and decided to do something about it.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/02/padres-planning-aggressive-pursuit-of-yoan-moncada.html

Whether or not he’ll be successful, well…we’ll see!

Dustin Dodgen
Guest
Dustin Dodgen
1 year 3 months ago

You are also assuming that these infielders won’t benefit from better bats in the lineup compared to last year. Seth Smith was about the only bit of offense we had last year, and we finished third in the West. You can’t tell me that Gyorko and Alonso won’t benefit with bigger bats in the lineup. You are also focusing on something completely off topic of the James Shields signing (and honestly just being a wet blanket over this great news)- this staff had one of the best team ERAs in the league last year with SP’s begging for some run support. This team can shut down good offenses with pitching, plain and simple. How about you just let San Diego rejoice having a GM and a front office that is proactively trying to make this team better for once and stop with the negativity!

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

How about you just let San Diego rejoice having a GM and a front office that is proactively trying to make this team better for once and stop with the negativity!

“Stop using objectivity and cater to my feelings as a fan! Padres.com, what’s that?”

Cliff Flippo
Guest
Cliff Flippo
1 year 3 months ago

Whats with all the Padres bashing? They finished with a 76-86 record last year with possibly the worst hitting ever in baseball. But they finished with the fourth best pitching. You honestly believe that the Pads wont do better than 76-86 with a true ace and three new 25+ home run hitters. When this season is over…I cannot wait to read your stupid article about the “magic” the Pads have when winning the division.

Dave
Guest
Dave
1 year 3 months ago

“You honestly believe that the Pads wont do better than 76-86 with a true ace and three new 25+ home run hitters.”

Well, he did say the exact opposite of that. He explicitly said “The Padres are going to be better than last year, almost certainly, and that’s a good thing.”

Try reading the whole article before complaining that your team was not declared the automatic World Series winner before Spring Training starts.

Nats Fan
Guest
Nats Fan
1 year 3 months ago

“Try reading the whole article before complaining that your team was not declared the automatic World Series winner before Spring Training starts.”

*tear*

Tymathee
Guest
Tymathee
1 year 3 months ago

but the Dodgers are better, and the Giants are still good…so maybe they’re 82-80 instead of 76-86.
Point is, their defense in the field AND outfield, it may just undo their pitching

Not Drank
Guest
Not Drank
1 year 3 months ago

I mean it’s not like Petriello provided data and information to back up his points, or anything! oh wait…

randplaty
Guest
randplaty
1 year 3 months ago

The only data he’s using is Steamer. Steamer is the most bearish on the Padres. ZiPS and PECOTA all project the Padres as contenders for a playoff spot.

Historical analysis doesn’t fly either because there was no 2nd WC.

Not Drank
Guest
Not Drank
1 year 3 months ago

Did Mike ever write that the Padres are not going to contend for a playoff spot?

No, he did not. Nice try though.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

I cannot wait to read your stupid article about the “magic” the Pads have when winning the division.

Whoa there

High ceilings
Guest
High ceilings
1 year 3 months ago

The way I see it these Padres are pretty much about maximizing ceiling.

If the team has as bad an infield as projected, presumably personnel would shuffle, perhaps including a switch from the outfield to first base for Kemp.

However, there is a chance a few of these infielders reach their ceiling and provide bargains.

Stank Asten
Guest
Stank Asten
1 year 3 months ago

There is no point in framing this issue as an “Infield WAR” problem. There is nothing unique about infield WAR vs. outfield WAR. What you want to say is that the Padres have a lot of bad players, and that will make it hard for them to have a successful season.
Thanks again, Petriello, for stating the obvious with a bunch of graphs.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

Did Mike run over your puppy?

Ted Brogan
Guest
Ted Brogan
1 year 3 months ago

Requisite snarky comment: TL;DR Signing a starting pitcher will not improve the infield’s offensive capability.

Requisite Homer Admission: I am a Padres fan, feel free to make fun of me.

Serious Comment: It is kind of scary seeing the off-season close and not having a better shortstop option than the Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes tandem. However, it seems that the “A.J.” for A.J. Preller stands for “Always Jiggering”. I’m not sure he’s done yet. The biggest thing for me (which is admittedly discussed in two other articles) is that we’re seeing a change in the front office’s operation. Before this, the Padres biggest free agent contract was $15.5 million/2 years for Joaquin Benoit. Whether it’s a fluke, it pays off immediately, or backfires spectacularly, it gives poor Padre fans like me hope that the new owners are not the same as the old ones.

LeschiLarry
Member
LeschiLarry
1 year 3 months ago

I wouldn’t be surprised to see them giving Carlos Quentin some reps at 1B during Spring Training. He has virtually no platoon splits and certainly 1B will be as close to a DH as SD can get with him ;>>)

Randy Jones
Guest
Randy Jones
1 year 3 months ago

Bud Black has said repeatedly that first base is harder on Quentin’s knees than outfield is and it would basically be impossible to move him there and they have no thoughts to do so. Besides, the Pads need defense somewhere on the field and Alonso plays a decent first base and can save us a few runs. Q would be a nightmare over there.

Randy Jones
Guest
Randy Jones
1 year 3 months ago

It’s a good article. As a Padre fan I can hope for a number of things to happen: Alonso’s wrist stays healthy and he hits a la 2012; Gyorko returns to 2013 form post-plantear fasciitis injury and thrives hitting 7th in the order rather than 4th or 5th; Solarte hits righties as well as he did when he joined the Padres mid-season last year when he sparked the team’s offensive resurgence, however limited, and Middlebrooks can crank 15 homers against lefties; and my man Little Ninja, Alexi Amerista and Clint Barmes play mostly error-free ss, give this team at least a little bit of defense up the middle where they will so desperately need it and can squirrel away in the 8th hole without doing too much harm at the offensive end. Go Pads!

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