I am a furious note taker. I scribble quotes, reflections, and factoids with reckless indiscrimination, so that “An island is a ship without sails” (from page 209 of Deborah Tall’s The Island of the White Cow) immediately follows a chart showing Chris Denorfia’s sudden decline:
Months PA BA OBP SLG Mar-Jun 208 .301 .359 .446 Jul-Aug 81 .155 .259 .169
Denorfia carried the offense earlier in the season but had become a serious drag before landing on the disabled list last week. Now, his overall numbers look a lot like those of Will Venable, who was so bad at one point that he got sent back to the minors:
Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ Denorfia 289 .261 .331 .370 100 Venable 281 .259 .332 .362 98
Denorfia has been a useful contributor to the Padres, hitting .266/.333/.408 (108 OPS+) in a season’s worth of plate appearances, but he turned 31 last month and shares the same skill set as Aaron Cunningham, a man 6 years his junior. Denorfia’s career resurrection in San Diego makes for a great story, much as Jody Gerut’s did before him, but his time here is likely drawing to a close.
There are too many other internal options, and Denorfia doesn’t do any one thing well enough to stave off the younger competition. Still, he has demonstrated that he belongs in the big leagues and should be able to keep his career going (maybe even with the Padres, but I don’t see it). I’ve enjoyed watching him play, and I’ll never forget his ground ball inside-the-park home run.
Denorfia is Eric Owens with less eye black and more baseball skill. I will miss him when he leaves, as I miss nearly everyone when they leave.
* * *
One benefit of these East Coast games is that I don’t get home from the day gig until after the final out has been recorded. This means that I don’t have to watch Chad Qualls pitch. Qualls has served as catalyst for Padres late-inning giveaways in New York the past two nights and has been brutal in his past 10 appearances dating back to the July 23 implosion at Philadelphia:
Dates IP ERA BA OBP SLG BF HR 3/31-7/21 48.1 2.61 .250 .297 .300 197 1 7/23-8/9 7.2 12.91 .412 .432 .971 37 5
Was it Ron Davis (father of injured Mets first baseman Ike Davis) that used to be called the Human Torch? Whatever the case, Qualls has been awful. Our solace is that wins and losses don’t matter a lot at this point.
Meanwhile, Mike Adams has been brilliant (aside from allowing a game-winning homer to the second batter he faced) for his new team. Maybe the Padres win those two games with Adams working the eighth instead of Qualls. Maybe now they’re only 11 games back of first-place San Francisco with 45 games remaining.
So what. I’d rather have Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland than two meaningless wins.
* * *
Ryan Ludwick leads the team with 11 homers and 64 RBI. He now plays in Pittsburgh, and nobody on the current Padres roster is likely to catch him in either category. Chase Headley has the next highest RBI total, 43, and is on the disabled list. Cameron Maybin has six home runs, making him the currently active leader in that category.
The currently active RBI leader on the Padres is Jason Bartlett. Go back and read that last sentence again (then proceed; don’t want to get stuck in an infinite loop).
There’s an excellent chance that Ludwick will end up leading the Padres in home runs and RBI. If he does, the Padres will have set new marks for lowest totals by a leader in those categories in a non-strike-shortened season. As it now stands, those are held by Dave Winfield (13 HR in 1976) and Nate Colbert (66 RBI in 1969), respectively.
The lowest totals ever come from the 1981 season, in which the Padres played a mere 110 games. That year, Joe Lefebvre led the club with eight homers, while Gene Richards led with 42 RBI. This happened to be Richards’ age 27 campaign, which looks suspiciously like Headley’s (I’ve thrown in some traditional stats at the end of this one because, well you’ll see):
Player Year PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ HR RBI SB Richards 1981 453 .288 .373 .407 129 3 42 20 Headley 2011 422 .292 .380 .407 126 4 43 13
Yeah, they are 30 years apart and played different positions, but that is a little freaky…