clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NL West Report: Seven Reasons Why the Padres Will Win the Division

You read that right.  Foolish analysts and writers all over wrote off contention for San Diego this offseason, but San Diego has shown legitimate clout so far, punctuated by an eight game win streak (six of which came against NL West foes).

  1. Chase Headley is hitting .379 with a 179 wRC+ and .434 wOBA.  A breakout season from Headley provides massive depth to an otherwise vanilla lineup.  (Except of course Adrian Gonzalez, who has homered in four straight games).
  2. They are not defying Pythagoras.  Their Pythagorean W-L matches their 11-7 record.
  3. The start from Bud Black's club isn't such a small sample size.   They have won 44 games dating back to August 1.  The only NL West team with more is the Rockies - by two.
  4. Beyond the Boxscore's Power Ratings think San Diego's start is real.  They were ranked 4th in MLB last Wednesday - before the Padres took a weekend series with the Reds.  This same system predicted the Rockies to surpass the Giants easily by season's end, and it was right.
  5. The projected weak rotation can far exceed projections with breakthrough seasons from Clayton Richard and Mat Latos.  Both have shown signs of exactly that.  Latos has a 3.57 ERA and the NL's 8th best walk rate.  Richard has been even more impressive with a 3.38 ERA and 2.31 FIP.  The staff overall has allowed only 62 runs, third best in MLB.
  6. You can't win a division in April, but you can win a division by May.  May is Saturday, and the Padres are in first.
  7. The back end of their bullpen is capable converting close games into wins frequently.
So by now, you're either convinced the Padres are legitimate or of my increasing insanity.  Either way, I'm disappointed in you.  Here are the reasons why the Padres won't win the division, which is what you should truly believe:
  1.  Chase Headley's season is an ideal example of unsustainability.  He has a ridiculous .429 BABIP an a line drive rate well above his career rate.  The Padres are currently 5th in MLB in batting WAR - ahead of the Yankees.  I told everyone in March that the Padres' offense was way better than anyone thought, but they aren't anywhere close to this good, yet.  There will be significant regression.
  2. A pythagorean record through one tenth of the season isn't a great predictor.
  3. Even though they have 2.5 months of success, it's still not six months, and one of the other four teams with clearly better talent will not disappoint.
  4. BtB's power ratings have a lot of noise in the data this early in the season.  The Rockies dropped from 3rd to 18th after a 3-3 week, so there's no reason to put a lot of stock into that.
  5. The rotation is still very weak at the top end.  
  6. The Padres could lead by 12 games by May 6, but there's no reason to suspect they could hold the lead. Hot Padres aren't a new thing.  Don't forget they had a ten game win streak last May and were back below .500 by June 1.
  7. The back end of their bullpen is undeniably strong, but it's not enough to make up for developing aspects of the team.
Jayson Stark agrees:  the Padres are an illusion thus far.  The Padres won't win the division, but they could decide the division by spoiling a team's record.  Fortunately, the Rockies already have a two game lead over Arizona and San Francisco in that department.

Team capsules after the jump.

NL West Report

Arizona (8-10, t-4th, W1, 3 GB)

Last Week: 3-3. 1-2 vs Cardinals. 2-1 vs Phillies. Pulling off a .500 week against the top two NL teams outside of the division has to be considering a solid success, even at home, considering they finished the previous week with a four game losing streak.

Divisional Change:  No change.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Rockies.  4 game road series @ Cubs.  

News:  The Diamondbacks signed Kelly Johnson with the idea that he would rediscover the the stroke he seemed to have lost in Atlanta.  So far, he has, and then some.  Johnson has seven home runs, one off the MLB lead.  He had four in the series against Philadelphia this weekend, with at least one in each game.  Jack Moore at Fangraphs has more on Johnson.

Kelly Johnson

#2 / Second Base / Arizona Diamondbacks





Feb 22, 1982

2010 - Kelly Johnson 17 59 14 19 8 0 7 12 11 12 0 0 .322 .429 .814

Jerry Crasnick wrote that the Diamondbacks were seriously considering trading for Nate Robertson before the Marlins swooped in and stole him.

The Diamondbacks have an agreement to sign 17-year old Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo for $512k.   He signed a deal for over $3million with St. Louis last summer that was voided due to concerns over his vision.  He was also rumored to be close to signing with San Francisco this offseason, but nothing materialized.

Benches cleared in a D-Backs/Cardinals game last week.  Apparently the Cardinals didn't like Chris Carpenter being hit by a pitch.  Go figure.

The Royals released RHP Juan Cruz in an effort to purge their failing bullpen.  The fact that Cruz had only a 3.38 ERA didn't seem to matter.  Cruz signed in the 2008/09 offseason as a Type A free agent after a strong season with the Diamondbacks.

Transactions: Optioned LHP Jordan Norberto to AAA and called up OF Cole Gillespie.

Injuries:  Justin Upton fouled a ball off his shin and bruised it and took yesterday off as a precaution.  He is day to day.  Brandon Webb is progressing well and relearning his mechanics.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Conor Jackson hamstring 04/19/2010
Miguel Montero knee 04/11/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brandon Webb shoulder 03/26/2010


Los Angeles (8-10, 4th, L1, 3 GB)

Last Week: 2-4. 1-2 @ Reds.  1-2 @ Nationals.   The Dodgers dropped both road series out east, culminating in a forgettable series at Nationals Park where the offense scored just 4 runs in the 31 innings of the series.  They were shut down by Scott Olsen yesterday and Luis Atilano Friday, who was making his MLB debut.

Divisional Change:  Lost 1.0 game in the division.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Mets. 4 game home series vs Pirates. The Mets have won 6 of their last 7 at Citi Field.  Something tells me the Dodgers are going to be elated to return to Dodgertown Thursday with the Pirates waiting.

You Should Know: The Dodgers are just 4-8 away from Los Angeles while facing a "Murderors Row" of Pittsburgh, Florida, Washington and Cincinnati.

News:  Believing he has a better chance at an MLB job elsewhere than with the team that inexplicably gave him a bullpen spot out of Spring Training, Russ Ortiz has requested to be a free agent, days after he was designated for assignment.

Joel Sherman at the New York Times thinks Los Angeles should trade Jamey Carroll and George Sherrill for Carlos Silva.  You tell me.  Dumb?  Or Ridiculous?

The always informative Eric Stephen recently wrote an article highlighting just how special Matt Kemp is.

Matt Kemp

#27 / Center Field / Los Angeles Dodgers





Sep 23, 1984

2010 - Matt Kemp 18 76 20 24 4 0 7 20 8 20 2 5 .316 .379 .645

We were told last week that Los Angeles was not going to sign a free agent catcher with Ausmus on the shelf.  Someone lied.  Ned Colletti gave catcher Mike Rivera a minor league contract.  The former Brewer was released by the Yankees before the season and will probably serve as insurance if A.J. Ellis has problems at the big league level.

Jon Paul Morosi discusses Chad Billingley's continued poor streak that extended from last season.  The article was written before Billz allowed one run in six innings yesterday afternoon in Washington.

Eric Gagne has officially retired.

Transactions:   Called up RHP Ronald Belisario, OF Xavier Paul, and activated LHP Hong-Chih Kuo from the disabled list.  

Injuries:  Manny Ramirez suffered a strained calf on Friday and was placed on the 15-day DL.  Jeff Weaver was placed on the 15-day DL last Thursday with a lower back strain.  Andre Ethier is day-to-day with a sprained left ankle and sat out yesterday's loss.  

Vicente Padilla landed on the 15-day DL as well Friday with right forearm soreness.  Ramon Ortiz will likely take Padilla's spot in the rotation, but Scott Elbert could be called up to start tomorrow as well.



Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Manny Ramirez calf 04/23/2010
Brad Ausmus back 04/09/2010
Cory Wade shoulder 03/26/2010


San Diego (11-7, 1st, L1)

Last Week: 5-1. 3-0 vs. Giants. 2-1 @ Reds. A blown save in the eighth inning yesterday was all that kept the Padres from an undefeated week, but an eight game winning streak isn't bad.  

Divisional Change:  Took a one game lead in the division.

This Week:  3 game road series @ Marlins.  4 game home series vs. Brewers.  The next week doesn't figure to be as kind to the Padres.  I don't expect them to still be in first place by next Monday.

News:  In light of Chase Headley's fantastic start to 2010, MLB Trade Rumors raises an interesting question:  Should the Padres try to sign Headley long-term?  I would wait a little longer than three weeks of the season to buy high on the guy.  It remains to be seen if Headley can be productive on a larger scale.  

Chase Headley

#7 / Third Base / San Diego Padres





May 09, 1984

2010 - Chase Headley 18 70 15 26 6 0 1 7 6 9 6 0 .371 .421 .500
In early March, the Twins had a deal in place for Heath Bell, but they backed off for character concerns.  I'm guessing they might regret coming to that conclusion.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they do.  The Twins had scouts at a recent Padres game to watch Bell, though there has been no dialogue between Minnesota and San Diego since March.
The Braves might be rooting for the Padres to fall apart.  If so, they figure to have the pieces to trade San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez, who would be a heck of a fit in Atlanta.  Padre might want to hope the Braves win the A-Gone sweepstakes though.  When Atlanta traded for Mark Teixeira three years ago, they essentially made the Rangers a contender by sending them Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones.

Transactions: Recalled RHP Adam Russell on April 12, then optioned him back down yesterday in favor of LHP Wade LeBlanc.

Injuries: Everth Cabrera has a sore left knee.  He sat out yesterday's game and is day-to-day.  

Chris Young is encouraged by his successful simulated session

, for whatever that is worth.


San Diego Padres Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Young shoulder 04/07/2010

Day to day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Everth Cabrera knee 04/25/2010


San Francisco (10-8, 2nd, L1, 1 GB)

Last Week: 2-4.  0-3 @ Padres, 2-1 vs. Cardinals.  Those who have waited for the Giants' offense to cool didn't have to wait long.  San Francisco scored just 9 runs in last week's six games.  The pitchers, however, allowed just 12.

This Week: 3 game home series vs. Phillies.  3 game home series vs. Rockies.  Fresh off a difficult week, the Giants are met with another one.  They will avoid Ubaldo Jimenez this weekend but will run squarely into Roy Halladay tonight.  

You Should Know:  By getting swept at Petco Park last week, the Giants failed to win a game against the only team not to make the playoffs in their current five series stretch.  They are 3-3 against the Dodgers/Cardinals and will take on the other 2009 NLDS pairing this week.

News: After allowing 11 runs and 21 hits over just 7 innings in his first two starts at AAA, Madison Bumgarner has started to  figure things out.  For a team that's sendin Todd Wellemeyer out to the wolves every fifth day, the Giants would be happy to see the 20-year-old tkae a big step forward.  The lefty allowed just two earned runs and seven hits across 11 innings in his two starts last week, so there's a start.  Fangraphs' Carson Cistulli looked deeply into Bumgarner over the weekend, including a very in depth commentary about the lefty off the field.  

Madison Bumgarner

#40 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants





Aug 01, 1989

In a story I apparently missed, Bumgarner's half-sister passed away during Spring Training.  Cistulli purely speculates that off-the-field issues have affected Bumgarner.  As for the physical side:

I'm able to announce with some certainty that Bumgarner was a tick or two higher in terms of fastball velocity, pitching in the 89-92 mph range for most of the game...his fastball showed little in terms of movement, nor did his secondary pitches pose much of a challenge to the Portland batting order....All of this conspired to net Bumgarner a mere five swing-and-misses on the day out of his 99 total pitches.

I don't have time to check into this interesting story right now, as I just saw it this morning, but MLB shut down a Dominican Prospect League game at the Giants' complex in Boca Chica over the weekend over an impasse regarding which scouts could attend.  Here is more commentary on the whole situation from MLBTR.

Mychel Urban understands the offense is struggling and picks the easy and obvious suggestion:  Call up Buster Posey.

John Bowker has disappointed so far in right field, and though Nate Schierholtz is hitting well, it only took a poor March for the Giants to lose confidence in him.  Add in injuries (specifically to Aaron Rowand) and the Giants could use an extra outfield bat.  However, they are strongly opposed to Jermaine Dye.  If Orlando Hudson is reading, Henry Schulman made sure to explicitly state the reasons Dye has had an empty answering machine all along: "his reported asking price and defense (are) the chief reasons"

Transactions: None.

Injuries: Freddy Sanchez played in his first exhibition game Saturday in an attempt to return from a strained shoulder.  He could return to the Giants lineup in a couple weeks, so hopefully Ian Kinsler gets off the DL in time for me to bench Juan Uribe on my fantasy team.  Speaking of whom, Uribe had a "tight elbow" and was on the bench for yesterday's game, but he should be able to avoid a DL stint.

San Francisco Giants Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Juan Uribe elbow 04/26/2010


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Aaron Rowand concussion 04/17/2010
Freddy Sanchez shoulder 03/26/2010
Emmanuel Burriss foot 03/26/2010