The San Diego Padres were flat out inept when it came to offense in 2014. Without a doubt, if they wanted to make a real push for the playoffs and a possible World Series they were going to have to make changes. To say they have held true to that thought is an understatement.
The Padres have added Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays. Now they have added Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves and reportedly will add Will Middlebrooks from the Boston Red Sox.
In 2014, the predominant group that roamed the outfield in San Diego consisted of a combination of Will Venable, Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, and Carlos Quentin. No person in the group would make any opposing pitcher shake in their cleats let alone provide real damage to opposing pitching staffs. In fact, here is a side by side from 2014 taking just some offensive categories into account. Clearly there are some mitigating factors but regardless there is an offensive upgrade.
|2014||SD Outfield Group||Upton-Myers-Kemp|
Petco is not exactly a power hitter’s heaven, ranking at or near the bottom in hits, doubles, and home runs. But this threesome will put up numbers vastly superior to the players then replace. Now one thing to consider is that the group of additions in San Diego lack a true center fielder. Matt Kemp spent some time there in Los Angeles but the reality is Wil Myers will probably get his shot to roam the middle at Petco. Why? Kemp was not a defensive stud in center by any stretch and Upton has never played an inning of top level baseball in center field. Of course, on the flip side, the previous group of players in the Padres outfield were not all Gold Glove caliber either. Overall, the changes will only benefit the Padres.
There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres had higher hopes in 2014 than their 77-85 record showed. The pitching staff was very impressive with the second lowest NL ERA and fourth overall in MLB at 3.27. They also had the seventh lowest opposing team batting average (.241) and struck out almost 1,300 combined hitters.
The additions will clearly improve their dead last finish in runs scored (535) and their 28th ranking in home runs where they only hit 109 as a team. Let’s not forget their dead last finishes in team batting average, On Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage.
Wil Myers should only improve as he gains seasoning. Matt Kemp, if healthy, will drastically increase the left field production while Justin Upton will be entering his prime (and a contract year) so folks should expect bigger things than ever before. Both will get plenty of chances to avenge former teams multiple times in the NL West (Upton was a Diamondback before the move to Atlanta).
One question will be if the Padres can complete the deal for Will Middlebrooks. While he has not lived to lofty expectations set after a great 2012 season, he is young and suffered through injuries. He has all the ability in the world and will probably gain the luxury of hitting six or seven in this revamped lineup.
Expect the Padres to stay active with the now overabundant number of outfielders. Seth Smith is probably the most logical piece to move based on his 2014 season.
Regardless of the rest of the Hot Stove season, the Padres have really showed the fan base that they are ready to complete in a division that has defending World Series champion, San Francisco Giants and the big wallet Dodgers.
Very Early Prediction
The reality is this team, as it sits today, is a real playoff contender and just might tip the scales around 86-90 wins in 2015. If they can pull that off then there will probably be October baseball in San Diego. Come back later in the winter, after the Hot Stove season, when we evaluate the entirety of Major League Baseball and truly break down each team’s chances with 2015 MLB Predictions.