2018 Season Preview: San Diego Padres

This piece is part of the Replacement Level 2018 Team Preview Series. An introduction to the series, as well as a brief explanation of the projections used, can be found here.

2017 Review

Record

Pythag Record

BaseRuns Record

Runs Scored

Runs Against

71-91

59-103

66-96

639

776

It’s possible to leave the 2017 season as a Padres fan and think “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” Sure, they lost a lot of games, but we all knew that was going to happen. That Margot feller sure seems like part of the solution, something called Jose Pirela hit pretty good, Brad Hand is awesome, and Wil Myers found a 30 HR season while he was looking for another L to finish his name (would have been easier if he were a pitcher tho amirite?).

Buddy, things are about to get dark.

Offseason in Review:

Key Additions – Eric Hosmer. ERIC HOSMER. Eric. Hos. Mer.

hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Excuse me while I pause for breath.

hahahahahahahahahaha

Thank you. The Padres signed Eric Hosmer. For eight years and $144 million. With an opt-out.

And this wasn’t an unexpected thing, like when the Rockies signed Ian Desmond for no reason. Hosmer to the Padres was the stupid rumor that started at the beginning of the offseason, when man had just invented fire, which people kept repeating because they couldn’t understand why it existed. Why a rebuilding franchise with limited payroll and an incumbent first baseman would go out and make the biggest commitment in its history to a thoroughly mediocre player.

Let’s keep in mind that Hosmer was good in 2017, putting up 4.1 WAR. And he just turned 28, so an eight-year deal would take him through his age-36 season, and that’s fine. But damn, that’s a lot to pay for “clubhouse presence” and “championship experience”.

Key Losses – Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin was pretty good on a pretty bad staff last season, racking up 2.3 wins and throwing 180 innings. The Padres usually don’t have much difficulty finding arms, and will probably skate by with a rotation full of fourth starters, a bullpen with a lot of four ERAs, and Hand, who should really be leading off this section. Instead, he’s sticking around for another three years and probably starring in a lot of commercials alongside his new teammate.

2018 Projections

ZiPS

Steamer

Pecota

74-88

72-90

73-89

It would seem that the Padres are something like the second or third-worst team in the NL, which is a ship Hosmer will probably right in about three weeks. Most of their problems seem to stem from two key weaknesses: first, they can’t pitch very well, and second, they can’t hit very well. Hilariously, they finished 2017 at exactly 0.0 defensive runs, the first team to do so since the 1994 White Sox (congratulations on knowing the only interesting thing about the 2017 Padres), though putting Myers in the outfield and Hosmer at first should fix that problem.

Key Players

You’ll never believe this, but San Diego’s got a new first baseman! The performance of one Eric Hosmer will likely have a significant impact on the franchise, as he’s now their middle of the order, clubhouse leader, and Thanksgiving host. Incumbent dinger-lord Wil Myers should help Hosmer transition from barbecue to Mexican, all the while secretly wondering what he did to deserve this and planning his inevitable move to Miami, where the suffering shall continue. That move will be orchestrated by A.J. Preller as part of what will technically be performance art, combining with the picturesque city of San Diego to prevent anyone from watching the Padres ever again.

Key Minor League 2018 Impacts

For all the guff the Padres have earned, they do sport one of the game’s best systems and it will be fascinating to see how they mess that up. Unfortunately, most of those players are at least a year away. Outfielder Franchy Cordero is a toolbox with barely any idea how to play baseball, putting up a .277 ISO and stealing fifteen bases in AAA, but also striking out 118 times against 23 walks. Christian Villanueva is best known as the main piece in the deal that sent Kyle Hendricks to the Cubs, and might displace Chase Headley at third after a displaying a solid combo of power, patience, and contact in 2017. Righty Brett Kennedy has racked up innings in the last two seasons and put the finishing touches on a solid AA campaign, making it reasonable he’ll see big-league time for a team in need of pitching help.

Future Outlook:

The Padres should at least be an interesting team in a couple of years, when top prospects like Fernando Tatis Jr., Mackenzie Gore, and Luis Urias show up. In the meantime, it’s hard to imagine them being any good at all, especially considering the likely quality of competition in the NL West. Frankly, doing things like giving an eight-year deal to Eric Hosmer also make one question the overall direction of the franchise. It would be nice to have some untainted hope for San Diego; instead, they’ll just have to be content with getting to live in San Diego, so they can deal with a little bad baseball.

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