Season in Review: San Diego Padres

A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.

Number Twenty five: San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres share a Spring Training facility with the Seattle Mariners. Perhaps it is worthy of investigating whether someone snuck a vial of the suck virus inside the complex sometime around October of 2007. A combined 177-148 record last year turned to an incredible 124-200 in 2008.

Never much of a scoring team, the Padres seemed fine with abandoning all pretense of trying to score runs this year, finishing with just 637. BaseRuns generously gives them credit for 664, still bad enough for 27th in baseball. And whereas in successful years they would limit opponents to under 700 runs scored, like the 666 allowed in 2007 (in 163 games), they managed to yield 764 (in 162 games) this season. Again, BaseRuns comes to the rescue of San Diego’s ego, saying they were only responsible for 742. Those differences are why San Diego managed to jump up a few spots from their actual finish in the standings.

San Diego’s defense, part of that usually excellent run prevention group stayed above average according to The Hardball Times and John Dewan which means the blame for the extra 100 runs allowed falls to the guys toeing the rubber. Last year’s Padres had a Cy Young season from Jake Peavy and great supporting years from Chris Young and Greg Maddux along with a fantastic bullpen (thanks to Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell) and decent filler. 2008 saw Young get hurt, Maddux age and Peavy suffer from some serious regression, which was natural after a season like the one he had in 2007.

The bullpen also took a collective step back as Bell was good, but not as good, ditto Hoffman. They weren’t bad as a unit, just spread thin as they used a remarkable 27 different pitchers in relief roles at one point or another. Likewise, 14 different pitchers recorded at least one start and chief offenders of bad Josh Banks and Shawn Estes were handed 22 starts in which they recorded 55 strikeouts while walking 44 batters and allowing 17 home runs, all in just 118.1 innings. That’s a 4.2SO/3.3BB/1.3HR slash line per nine.

The hitters scored a hundred fewer runs so that certainly played a part as well. The Padres would have done well to hang onto Milton Bradley, but they did a much improved year from Brian Giles, who will be sticking around, for now, in 2009. Adrian Gonzalez also had another solid season, cementing himself as one of the more under appreciated commodities in baseball.

With Jake Peavy seemingly having pitched his last game in a Padre uniform, and a messy divorce for the San Diego owner driving them to slash payroll it could be a while before they can offer some resistance to other NL West clubs.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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