Me, Elsewhere: Examining the Padres’ Hot Start

My latest at Hardball Times is all about the Friars, who continue to defy expectations by playing well and leading the National League West in late May. Here’s a little snippet from the section on Chase Headley:

If nothing else, Headley has enjoyed greater success in 2010 than his predecessor, Kevin Kouzmanoff. Beyond the fact that Headley draws a walk at least once a week, the actual gap in defensive performance has been much smaller than the perceived gap, as expressed by those who thought Kouzmanoff deserved the NL Gold Glove in 2009 on the basis of his three errors:

            PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+ BB/PA  ISO FPct RF/9
Headley    192 .286 .333 .377 100   .073 .091 .952 2.77
Kouzmanoff 180 .265 .294 .359  78   .033 .094 .967 2.81

I also discovered something interesting about Mike Adams while researching the piece. He doesn’t like baserunners:

Going back a little further, this appears to be a pattern with Adams:

      Bases empty               Runners on
2008 153 .169 .229 .275 11 46  106 .269 .317 .452  8 28
2009  93 .091 .140 .114  5 35   43 .158 .220 .237  3 10
2010  52 .102 .154 .163  3 18   25 .333 .440 .571  4  4

I don’t know what this says other than maybe Bud Black could be more careful about bringing Adams in during the middle of an inning. Whatever the case, Adams is one of the few pitchers on the Padres staff who is not performing to his capabilities. He hasn’t been causing the team to play over its head, and he could improve.

Read the article; it’s a bit long but I think it gives a good idea of where this team is at and where it could be headed. My conclusion (“Four months is plenty of time to take a big fall”) might be overly harsh, but I don’t think this is a 96-win team. Then again, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to defend my preseason prediction of 75 wins. And that’s just fine by me.

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9 Responses »

  1. Good article, Geoff.

    Headley is of concern, as his May is much worse than his April with only 3 XBH so far and OPS that is .170 lower. On the positive side, he’s walked more and struck out fewer times.

    Venable is interesting in that he seems to be more selective once Pepe Negro decided to bat him #1. We’ll see if this will carry on. The problem he has, I think, is his selectivity with 2 strikes in his at-bats, as he’s struck out 39 times in 58 ABs (67.24%) with 1-2 & 2-2 counts (for contrast, NL average is 43% in those situations).

    Little did I realize that both SS and LF have produced less than the pitcher’s spot. Yikes!

  2. Are you actually still defending the 75 win prediction, Geoff? The team would have to finish 48-69 (.410) to match it. Given that there’s no ONE thing to explain the success so far, and that they’re actually under-performing in spots, it’s hard to imagine the multiple failures that would be required.

    I know even Padres fans have trouble believing the team is this good, but they’ve been doing it for awhile. They went 37-25 (.597) the last 62 games last year, 15-10 (.600) in Spring Training, and now at 27-18 (.600), you can make the case that they’ve been incredibly consistent.

    It would take several key injuries to go 75-87 at this point, and I just know you’re not hoping for that to save your prediction. Just say your finger slipped and you meant to type 8 instead of 7.

  3. @Larry: The only defense I can offer is that it made sense at the time. Nice idea about the typo, but I gladly own my mistake. I hope the Padres make me look like a complete idiot by winning it all.

  4. Have you seen the standings? I mean, HAVE YOU SEEN THE STANDINGS????

    They are a *beautiful* thing!!!

  5. LM: go treat yourself and mrs. to Flip Happy Crepes. :D

  6. I made a stupid emotional bet during spring training that the Padres would finish over .500. When I saw your (and others’) prediction, I mentally wrote off the $100.

    While I am not yet in the camp that the Padres are a 96 win team, they definitely will win me my bet.

  7. Interesting stats for Mike Adams. I can’t think of who they are right now, but I remember some other pitchers having similar type splits (Sid Fernandez maybe). I guess there could be many reasons why, but I wonder if he is simply less effective when pitching from the stretch.

  8. Headley’s offensive numbers dropping like a rock. But because we use Kouzmanoff’s oft poor performance as the barometer, we should be pleased?

  9. Nice article. Go Pads!!!!