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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dewan: Could the Padres be the Mariners of 2010?

And then pull an ultimo double-suck in 2011?

Last year, the Seattle Mariners won 85 games after only 61 victories in 2008, an improvement of 24 games, the best such improvement in Major League Baseball in 2009. This year the San Diego Padres are off to an excellent start with a 17-11 record and are in second place in the National League West, just percentage points behind the San Francisco Giants. That’s an excellent uptick (so far) for the Padres after going 75-87 in 2009. One of the keys for the Mariners in 2009 was their defense, and defense is also playing a major role for the Padres this season.

...In the National League, could the Padres be the Mariners of 2010? Few analysts predicted the Padres for a good season, but they have the third best record in the National League. Last year the Padres had the worst keystone combination in the senior circuit. Their second base and shortstop defense cost them 34 runs. This year, San Diego’s double play combination (David Eckstein and Everth Cabrera) has saved seven runs defensively thus far, a very nice improvement. The Padres center fielders (Scott Hairston and Tony Gwynn) have saved eight runs with their gloves and throwing arms. As a team, the Padres currently have the third best defense in baseball with a total of 23 defensive runs saved.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the antithesis of the Padres. They are in last place in the NL West and it’s their defense that’s hurting them. Their defense has cost them 17 runs thus far this year, the worst total in all of baseball (tied with the Kansas City Royals). Comparing their total to the Padres, the 40 -run difference translates into a difference of four games attributable to defense (using the 10-runs-per-win rule of thumb). The Dodgers (11-16) trail the Padres by five-and-a-half games. Defense matters.

Repoz Posted: May 09, 2010 at 11:36 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners, padres, projections, sabermetrics

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 09, 2010 at 12:01 PM (#3527263)
A guy to watch is Will Venable. His average isn't much but when he does hit it the ball travels. He strikes out a lot but walks enough so it's not Snyderesque. He can steal a base. He has 500 at bats in the big leagues and a .305 secondary average with a .254 batting average. Interesting player.

And that kid LeBlanc looks legit to me. He has the whole lefty thing going where he seems to just spot his fastball and get guys out.
   2. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 09, 2010 at 12:05 PM (#3527264)
On a side note reading 'angry Dave' makes for a more interesting USSMariner. His real fandom comes through versus the analyst side. And he doesn't try some oblique humor like Zumsteg who ended up explaining his comments in follow up posts since only his mother and three potheads understood the original attempt.
   3. Shalimar Posted: May 09, 2010 at 12:09 PM (#3527265)
only his mother and three potheads

You seriously underestimate the number of potheads in Seattle.
   4. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 09, 2010 at 12:27 PM (#3527270)
Well, I was thinking of the subset of potheads, USSM readers and those that "get" DZ's humor.
   5. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: May 09, 2010 at 12:35 PM (#3527274)
This year's double play combination of David Eckstein and Everth Cabrera _is_ much better defensively than last years double play combination of...

...David Eckstein and Everth Cabrera. Also Tony Gwynn and Scott Hairston are much better defenders in center field than the guys who played most of the time there last year.
   6. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 09, 2010 at 01:29 PM (#3527283)
I saw Blanks in the Midwest League and even now I cannot decide if he has the bat speed or not. He's just so ungainly.
   7. Raskolnikov Posted: May 09, 2010 at 03:11 PM (#3527323)
Or maybe this is just a hot start. Every team has a 17-11 stretch at some point during the season.
   8. . . . . . . Posted: May 09, 2010 at 03:17 PM (#3527326)
A guy to watch is Will Venable. His average isn't much but when he does hit it the ball travels. He strikes out a lot but walks enough so it's not Snyderesque. He can steal a base. He has 500 at bats in the big leagues and a .305 secondary average with a .254 batting average. Interesting player.

Interesting background, too- son of Max Venable, went to Princeton to play basketball and didn't even play baseball his freshman year. Part of a very good 2004 Princeton team that included 2 MLBers (Ross Ohlendorf and Will Venable) a first round bust who reached AA (BJ Szymanski)and a pitcher who made it to AAA (Tim Lahey). About as good an Ivy League team as there's been in the last 20 years.

EDIT: The team had a bunch of other guys who played in the low/mid-minors. They were freakin' loaded.
   9. RJ in TO Posted: May 09, 2010 at 03:23 PM (#3527330)
Or maybe this is just a hot start. Every team has a 17-11 stretch at some point during the season.

Not this one, or this one, and certainly not this one.

Of course, all this just proves that they're not likely to be one of the worst teams in history. It certainly doesn't disprove the "it's just a hot streak" thing.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 09, 2010 at 03:25 PM (#3527331)
Cabrera's also on the DL, and hasn't played in two weeks.
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 09, 2010 at 03:29 PM (#3527334)
Adrian still has yet to have a hot streak. When the pitching cools off his bat can compensate
   12. Rich Rifkin Posted: May 09, 2010 at 04:46 PM (#3527360)
The Pads have played just 2 more games at home than on the road. And it doesn't look to me (scanning their schedule) that an easy schedule explains anything. They whipped the Giants, for example, and SF is right in their rear view mirror in the NLW.

One thing which might suggest that the Pads will decline is a P-record substantially worse than their actual record. They are now 19-11, but their P-record is 20-10.

Another indicator of a likely decline (in offense) is if they are hitting much, much better with RISP than otherwise. So far, the Pads have a .705 OPS as a team. However, with RISP they have a .912 OPS.

By contratst, their pitchers have allowed an OPS of .637 in all conditions and just .660 with RISP.

Individually, it doesn't look like any of their hitters is off to an unsustainably hot start. A couple of guys entering the age 26-27 range are doing better than in the past, but that is not unfathomable. The player on their roster most likely to decline in performance (after a smoking hot start) is Jon Garland (218 ERA+). He's 30 years old and has a career ERA+ of 106, though he put up very good numbers late last year for the Dodgers.

Collectively, their bullpen has been brilliant (2.75 ERA). But that is almost the same as their starters (2.83).

I think the real question with San Diego is its offense. I think it's unlikely they keep hitting so well with RISP. I think this might be an 80-85 win team, though.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: May 09, 2010 at 07:41 PM (#3527538)
It is a strange title for an article. Could the Padres be the team that (1) would be awful and underperform their pythag one year then (2) be un-good but overperform their pythag the next? Also weird since, as pointed out, this is pretty much the same defensive team they had last year (Headley to 3B to replace Kouzmanoff, Venable replacing Giles ... but also losing Gerut who was good defensively for them last year). Their "defensive improvement" is more a comment on the substantial variability in the defensive stats.

Anyway, the Padres actually won 75 last year (+8 vs pythag) -- if they pull a Mariners and win 24 more than they did last year, I like their chances for the playoffs. :-)
   14. bjhanke Posted: May 10, 2010 at 04:19 AM (#3528051)
Shalimar says, "You seriously underestimate the number of potheads in Seattle."

Either that, or he's adjusting for the context. To be considered a pothead in Seattle is rare and involves true dedication. In other words, you can't just look at Bonging Average. You have to compute the Weed Above Replacement Pothead.

- Brock Hanke

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