My latest at Baseball Prospectus ($) examines the topsy-turvy NL West, where the formerly front-running San Francisco Giants have played poorly (.405 Pythagorean winning percentage) since the All-Star break and the formerly cellar-dwelling Padres have done the opposite (.600 Pythag). Heck, the Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks are the only two teams in the division with positive run differentials on the season.
Several Padres hitters who contributed little in the season’s first half have come on strong of late. Chief among these are Nick Hundley (.516/.545/1.097 in 33 PA since the All-Star break), Jesus Guzman (.363/.410/.566 in 122 PA), Will Venable (.308/.379/.549 in 103 PA), Kyle Blanks (.272/.346/.511 in 104 PA), and Orlando Hudson (.304/.377/.452 in 130 PA).
The Padres have been aided by a few recent blowout wins, most notably in Pittsburgh earlier in August and at home against the Florida Marlins this past weekend. Still, the team leads the entire National League in runs scored since the break, which gives fans cause for hope.
The Padres finished 2009 strong, and they followed that with a surprisingly successful 2010 campaign. There is no guarantee that a similar showing toward the end of this season will lead to such positive results in 2012; then again, there is no guarantee that it won’t…