Pads Succeed While Giles Flounders

Before the season started, most people had the San Diego Padres finishing somewhere near the bottom of the standings. Trade rumors swirled about star pitcher Jake Peavy all winter, and as the team went through a change in ownership, the organization seemed to be drifting about without a clear direction.

However, they’ve started the season strong, winning nine of their first 13 games. That, in and of itself, is pretty remarkable. What is really crazy about San Diego’s early season push, however, has been how they’ve done it with the worst hitter in baseball in the middle of their line-up.

Brian Giles is hitting .151/.211/.189 through his first 57 plate appearances. That’s a staggeringly bad .189 wOBA. Even taking Petco Park into account, Giles has been worth -6.5 runs with his bat so far this season.

You name it, Giles is failing at it. He’s generally a very good contact hitter – his K% is 15.1% this year. He usually can be counted on for some walks, even when the hits aren’t falling – he has a 7.0% BB%. He has solid gap power – his ISO is .038. Through the season’s first two weeks, he’s essentially hit like a pitcher, pounding balls into the ground when he does make contact and ending rallies with bad at-bats.

Giles is, of course, better than this. There’s no way his skills have declined so fast that he went from a +4.7 win player in 2008 to the worst player in baseball in 2009. He’s going to start hitting, with the only real question being when. That the Padres were able to go 9-4 while Giles was flailing around like a fish out of water bodes quite well for them.

I still don’t think they’re going to the playoffs, but in the face of a total flop from their best player, they’ve picked up the slack and gotten off to a strong start. Given the results of the first 13 games, they’re almost certainly better than most of us thought.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

11 Responses to “Pads Succeed While Giles Flounders”

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  1. Adrian Gonzalez says:

    Brian Giles is our best player?

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    • marcello says:

      In 2008, he was.

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      • Mr. Derp says:

        Adrian Gonzalez?

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      • wobatus says:

        But in 2006 and 2007 Gonzalez had a higher wOBA, Giles is aging, Gonzalez coming into his prime, etc. That Giles abysmal season has continued and Gonzalez has been incredible gives me 20/20 hindsight, but I think this was true no matter what the 2008 stats say. Plus I am not sure uzr is the be all and end all. Plus Giles is a serious ass of a woman beater and all around moronic jock. OK, that was gratuitous.

        Giles was a very good player for a long time, with petco masking his worth, although petco alone was not wholly responsible for his power decline. And his babip is really awful this year. I’d say even given the 2008 wars, the idea he was their best player was incorrect.

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      • wobatus says:

        Also, replacement level rf ws evidently lower than replacement levl 1b in 2008. I still think Gonzalez’s 24 more home runs is worth more than Giles’s 8 more doubles, etc. The o has to come from somewhere. The idea that just because Giles is that much better than a replacement level player in 2008 makes him the better player seems way too forest for the trees.

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      • wobatus says:

        BTW, Gonzalez’s war was 3.3 in 2006 to Giles 1.1, and 3.9 to 3.3 in 2007. Over last 3 years, he was better. He sure is better now. That wsn’t that hard to guess was probable.

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  2. Bill says:

    That conclusion seems hasty to me. Giles has been terrible, yeah, but almost everyone else (Hundley, Gonzalez, Eckstein, Rodriguez, Gerut) has been seriously overperforming, which seems to me to more than balance out. When things even out, you’ve got Giles playing much better, but all those guys playing considerably worse (or less great, in Adrian’s case), and I think they turn out basically the way we all thought they would.

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  3. Kevin S. says:

    I’m also not sure why it’s so utterly impossible that a 38 y.o. player could just suddenly lose it. Unlikely, certainly, but not unheard of. I’m certainly saying he’s toast, but I’m not sure why we exclude the possibility.

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  4. Brett says:

    Giles is probably just throwing games until he gets enough money to pay off his wife for spousal abuse.

    Okay I don’t actually believe that, and he’ll turn things around soon but he’s been terrible this year. I wonder if his off the field issues have anything to do with his struggles

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  5. Keith says:

    Worst player in baseball?

    Man, after watching 14 games of Cody Ransom I find that hard to believe. :p

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