Mailbag: What’s Wrong with Adrian, and How Good Are This Year’s Padres?

I’ve been noticing some new names in the comments, which is fantastic. Glad you found us, and welcome.

Today’s mailbag features questions from two first-time commenters. First up, Elliott P. writes:

I would love it if you could shed some light on Adrian’s seeming lack of production. It seems as though his power, RBIs and slugging are way down in the past 30 days. Any thoughts?

Thoughts? Me? Yes, I may have a few.

Elliott sent this in on the evening of August 17 (i.e., one day before Gonzalez went 2-for-2 with a homer and three walks), so we’ll examine the 30-day period between July 19 and then. Here is Adrian’s line for that stretch:

Dates         G  PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB  K
7/19-8/17/10 27 121 .271 .342 .364 11 24

Well, Elliott, you’re not imagining things. Adrian did go through a rough stretch there. That ISO (.093) is positively putrid. Think Brad Ausmus.

As to why Adrian struggled during that period, it could be a number of things. Guys get dinged up over the course of a season, pitchers make adjustments, etc. The most unsatisfying, but very real, possibility is that performance simply varies within a season.

In fact, Adrian does this every year. I noted this in one of my books, and I seem to recall a commenter making a similar observation earlier in the season. It might have been when Adrian went through a slump in May:

Dates         G  PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB  K
4/29-5/28/10 27 119 .230 .342 .350 17 26

Here are some more from previous seasons:

Dates         G  PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB  K
4/24-5/23/06 26  88 .167 .216 .308  5 18
6/27-7/26/07 24 101 .211 .277 .333  9 23
6/14-7/13/08 26 110 .213 .309 .319 13 18
6/27-7/26/09 27 107 .170 .308 .273 17 23

I’m cherry picking dates here, but that’s kind of the point. Cut up a big enough pie and you’re bound to find a slice that isn’t delicious. Incidentally, the reverse is also true: Slice up a big enough steaming pile of… er, well… you will find a slice that doesn’t stink:

Dates       G  PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB  K
6/2-7/1/69 29 115 .274 .330 .538  6 19
6/3-7/2/00 26  95 .247 .347 .531 12 21

Here are the final season lines from those two former Padres:

Player       Year   G  PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB   K
Ed Spiezio   1969 121 400 .234 .313 .369 38  64
Ruben Rivera 2000 135 479 .208 .296 .400 44 137

Blind squirrels, acorns… Anyway, the point is, performances fluctuate within a season. I wouldn’t worry about Adrian’s recent struggles… they come and go, and probably don’t mean anything in the long run. Oh, and just so you know, the Padres went 17-10 while Adrian was slugging like Ausmus.

* * *

We move now to Bruce Warren, who writes:

This looks like one of the top three teams in Padres history. Could you maybe compare them to the ’84 and ’98 Padres in won-loss record after 119 games? I have no easy way of doing this, but I think it would be pretty cool to see. I think we’re probably a little bit behind those teams at this point?

That would would be pretty cool to see, wouldn’t it? We glanced at this at the All-Star break, but it’s worth a second look. We’ll focus this time on teams that reached the post-season (yeah, Game 163 counts):

Year  W  L  Pct  GB/A  RS  RA Pyth
1984 71 48 .597  +9.5 519 444 .569
1996 64 55 .538  +1.5 572 511 .551
1998 77 42 .647 +14.5 580 464 .601
2005 59 60 .496  +4.0 509 545 .469
2006 60 59 .504  -3.5 529 525 .503
2007 64 55 .538  -3.0 515 457 .554
2010 72 47 .605  +6.0 523 401 .619

First off, I’d forgotten just how awful the National League West was in 2005. How does a team with a losing record own a 4-game lead in the middle of August?

Second, to answer your question, Bruce, the Padres are a game ahead of their pace in ’84 and five back of ’98. What I find astounding is that this year’s Padres have a better run differential (+122) than did the ’98 model (+116) at the same point. Of course, that World Series team had the advantage of a larger payroll (although so do the current Baltimore Orioles, who are 42-79 as of this writing; money is good, but winning is better).

I should also mention that since the last time we looked at this, the Padres have gone 21-10. They have outscored their opponents, 147-97, over that period. If the Padres intend to slow down, they sure are taking their time doing it.

* * *

Thanks, Elliott and Bruce, for the excellent questions. Keep ‘em coming… gives me something to do.

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15 Responses »

  1. I’ve been reading your words for quite some time—and I feel that I owe you a thank you.
    Your writing skills and love for baseball are both stout and impressive. I truly enjoy reading your blog, SO MUCH in fact::::that I have actually BOOKMARKED this dang page.
    I’ve been a Padres fan since 1988 when I first moved to SD as a kid and it’s been (as you know) filled with a lot of lows and a couple of highs.
    This is just another high.
    I’ve loved baseball ever since I can remember. Between the ages of 5 and 8 it was Nolan Ryan and his gravitational pull that drew me in. I’ve loved baseball ever since.
    I wanted to be just like him so I hurled everything…
    Keep doing what you’re doing man.
    It’s great.

  2. I have been watching the Padres since they played at Lane Field. I am totally amazed and delighted at the results this season. They are winning without much offense or superstar players (except Adrian). It is not just luck. The management is superb at finding talent along with personality. The manager manages the pitching staff to near perfection. Obviously there is not much guaranteed by having huge budgets, at least for a short time. Good luck Padres!

  3. “Cut up a big enough pie and you’re bound to find a slice that isn’t delicious.”

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, pie!!!!! Great line Geoff.

  4. One thing this year’s Padres have a chance to do that no previous team has done is finish with the best record in the National League. We are currently a game and a half ahead of Atlanta and three up on Cincinnati.

  5. I also came across this blog thanks to the ESPN mentions this season. It’s now my favorite source for commentary on the padres and I’m also a big fan of the links posts. Has it always been called Ducksnorts or is that a tribute to Mr. Grant? Keep up the good work.

  6. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that Adrian has struggled. This month coincided with a month of defenses playing that extreme infield shift, which took at least 10 hits away from Adrian over the course of the month and forced him to change his approach (not all of them have played the shift, but all of them at the beginning of this cold streak did, which got him off his game).

    Been watching the Pads for 26 years, discovered your blog through ESPN and have been reading regularly all season. Keep it up!

  7. Bad injury for TG Jr.
    My question is: Will he be available if the Pads get in the playoffs?

    Second question: Didn’t Cameron have the same injury in ’07, and he came back to be a defensive sub in game 163?

  8. Great post, GY.

    What’s funny about this year is that they kind of came out of nowhere. I expected them to be better than last year, but maybe only a .500 team. It’s like everything has gone right.

    In ’84 and ’98, the Pads were expected to be strong contenders.

  9. We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
    But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
    We turn clay to make a vessel;
    But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
    We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
    And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
    Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

    I think Buddy Black’s been reading the Tao Te Ching. He certainly has the Zen of this team figured out. Everyone likes to talk about what this team doesn’t have, but they’re missing the point.

    This team doesn’t have ego. This team doesn’t have slackers. This team doesn’t have fear. I’ve been waiting for the coach to turn into a pumpkin ever since May, but by now you’ve gotta believe this is for real.

    However, I think TGJR’s loss will be more significant than people think. He’s one of the best defensive players in the game, and while fantasy jockeys may not give a damn, that kind of thing matters when it comes to winning Major League baseball games.

  10. Not just the best record in the NL – we could finish with the best record, period.

    Yankees: 75 / 46 / -
    Rays: 74 / 47 / 1
    PADRES: 73 / 47 / 1.5

    NY = quarter-billion dollar payroll.
    SD getting the most wins spending 15% of that?

  11. @J.Davis: Thank you for the kind words… Hurling is good, very cleansing.

    @Fred Puhn: Lane Field? Awesome; I have only seen photos. Thanks for the note.

    @Greg S.: Thanks, I’m glad you are enjoying. I actually took “Ducksnorts” from Hawk Harrelson, TV broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox. There’s a little more about the name in this article from a few years ago.

    @Andy: Yes, I think the shift may have hurt Adrian for a while until he was able to make an adjustment. There is always something that needs tweaking.

    @Nick G.: In many respects, this has been my favorite season as a fan because I didn’t see it coming at all. I still kind of giggle when I look at the standings.

    @Jon: Ah, the Tao Te Ching is always welcome here… And I agree about Gwynn. For as much as I rode that guy last year, he has been a joy to watch in center field (if not at the plate).

    @DShoe: Priceless, indeed!

  12. Jon, that was outstanding!

  13. love what Jon wrote. just fit into this space around here.


    Gwynn Jr. and his glove & hustle will be missed. time to play Venable in center a bit more, he can handle it better than Denorfia, i think.

  14. Apparently all Adrian needed was a “what’s wrong with Adrian?” piece, because he’s broken out big time, as all he did the last 7 games is .292/.414/.708/1.122

  15. @Adam: I will have to write more of these… anything to help the team!