The Padres have lost at least 90 games for the third consecutive season as part of their latest rebuilding plan. If losing is a metric for success (you can only succeed in modern baseball by failing miserable), then the Padres have been one of the most successful teams in professional sports this century, with seven 90+-loss seasons since 2000. That might make them the front office World Champions, but in the meantime, practically, visually, it has made them a very lousy baseball team to watch.
Thankfully, they’ll be matched up against an equally lousy team. The Giants got here a little less organically than the Padres did and you could make a convincing argument that the teams are going in opposite directions.
San Diego has an average roster age of 26.9, the Giants average 30.0 years old. Their top five hitters, by OPS+ (the stat created specifically to kill baseball), are all under 28 years old and above league average. The Giants... do not have that. So, the hope is that one of these days, the Padres will wake up and win 100 games for three straight seasons and maybe win a playoff series or two and then tear it up again so the cycle can repeat.
But, again, they’re pretty lousy. They went 5-20 in July. Five...
Say what you want about an 11-game losing streak, at least it’s commitment. The Padres’ longest losing streak of the month was seven games. They spaced out their wins juuuuust enough to not go on an historic losing run. But why not? If you’re going to commit to being bad — really commit, man.
Anyway, since that terrible July, San Diego is 18-22 and have been outscored 188-168. By comparison, the Giants are 15-26 over the same span and have been outscored 157-126. So, worse.
This means that the usually painful Giants-Padres series to which we’ve grown accustomed will be as painful as it usually is because both teams are bad, as they’ve usually been in recent years. If that’s not a recipe for exciting baseball, I don’t know...
Yeah, I got nothing.
Andrew Suarez, Derek Holland, and Chris Stratton will be helped tremendously by Petco Park’s pitching-favorable park factor and maybe if the Giants draw a few walks and bunt against shifts they can scratch out some late inning — hahaha no. This will be painful baseball that you’ll watch because the players have to play it and you need to watch baseball before it’s gone.
Hitter to watch
Right fielder Franmil Reyes is a 23-year old rookie whom the Padres held back until May to gain an extra year of control and if you look at his month-to-month numbers you see very clearly why they want to keep him in the fold for as long as possible. He’s managed to make adjustments to Major League Pitching on the fly in order to keep hitting the snot out of the ball.
His .848 OPS translates to a .361 wOBA, which is 4th-best in basball for players 23 and younger (minimum 230 plate appearances). He trails only Juan Soto (#1), Shohei Ohtani (#2), and Ronald Acuna Jr. (#3). That’s... that’s the list. That’s the Cool Kids table and he’s sitting at it. He’s a bright, shining beacon of hope for the Padres. Literally —
He and switch-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia (the #1 catching prospect in all of baseball, just ahead of Joey Bart, acquired in the Padres’ deadline deal that sent Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland) are key figures in the Padres’ planned resurgence, so look at for him and dream on what years of tanking might provide.
Of course, those two aren’t alone. There are other young players (Franchy Cordero, for instance, but he’s on the 60-day DL) raring to go and they’ll get their time soon enough. In the meantime, the Giants will have to contend with the current crop, which is plenty young and plenty feisty on their own. Just... you know... not very good at winning.
Pitcher to watch
Who do you think is the best player on the Padres this season? I’m going off of fWAR here, so it might be a bit of a trick question. It’s setup man Craig Stammen, with a juicy 2.2 fWAR. That number would also make him the most valuable player (again, by fWAR) on the Giants, edging out a trio of 2.1s in Brandon Belt, Derek Holland, Dereck Rodriguez.
His FIP is an astounding 2.02 (ERA 2.49 in 71.2 innings pitched) and he has an 81:15 K:BB ratio, which is similarly fantastic. He doesn’t throw above 92 mph — he’s a sinker (averages 91.6 mph), slider, curveball pitcher and what’s probably led to all the success is the huge increase in spin rate for the latter two pitches in that arsenal. He’s getting career high whiff rates on the slider (48.3%) and curveball (57.8%) as a result. If the Padres have a lead after 7 innings, the Giants are totally boned. We... we probably already knew that, but now you know why without even having to watch the game.
The Giants will win one of these games, just so we can remember the feeling of winning a road game.