Coming into the season, if the Padres weren’t the second-best team in the majors, they were the best. After a strong showing in 2020, San Diego added Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell to a rotation that already had Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, and Adrian Morejón. A position player corps that ranked second in fWAR was bolstered by the return of Jurickson Profar and the signing of KBO phenom Ha-seong Kim. The only thing San Diego didn’t do was radically realign the division so they didn’t have to compete against the only other team that could take them down.
And yet, it’s June 17, and the Padres aren’t just looking up at the Dodgers in the standings, they’re looking up at the Giants, too. San Diego has lost 13 of their last 17, and their last three losses have come at the hands of the Colorado Rockies. The Padres are still six games above .500 at 38-32, and they own the fifth-best run differential in the majors. Things aren’t dire, or even all that bad, but they haven’t shaken out as we would have thought.
The Padres are underperforming, but there’s still plenty of time for the Dads to pull themselves out of this funk. Whether they can do that is a little more questionable than it would have been two and a half months ago. For all of their depth and their earned hype, this is still a team that employs Eric Hosmer as its starting first basemen after all.
Speaking of Hosmer, he’s one of several Padres hitters who have been bad this year. Hosmer had his best year in San Diego in the shortened 2020 campaign. He hit .287/.333/.517 for a 127 wRC+ a year ago. Right now, he’s threatening to have his worst season as a big leaguer which is saying something because he posted a -1.3 fWAR in 2012. Through play on Wednesday, Hosmer is hitting .253/.313/.356 for an 89 wRC+ and he’s been worth -0.5 fWAR. Hosmer’s xwOBA is a palatable .332 and he’s striking out 15.5 percent of the time, his lowest rate since 2017. Maybe he’ll recapture some of that 2020 form, but the Padres’ offensive woes aren’t limited to Hosmer.
As a team, the Padres rank 16th in wRC+ at 94 while San Diego position players rank 14th in fWAR at 7.3. That’s with Fernando Tatís Jr. having his best season yet. Trent Grisham has been doing a lot of heavy lifting as well, but he’s already made two trips to the IL.
The free agent signings haven’t panned out. Ha-seong Kim has had a rough introduction to MLB pitching. The 25-year-old is hitting .208/.264/.336 for a 68 wRC+. He’s been a little better as of late—his wRC+ over the last month (dating back to May 16) is 92—so he’s showing signs he’s adjusting. Jurickson Profar has offered defensive versatility, but he hasn’t carried his bat over from last year.
Tommy Pham’s on-base skills have recovered, but his power is still nowhere to be seen. His .116 ISO is the second-lowest mark of his career. As was the case in 2020, Pham’s expected stats are above his actual numbers. His approach appears solid, but he’s not getting the results he deserves.
Both Manny Machado and Wil Myers are having mediocre years. Machado’s wRC+ is 108, which is a fine enough mark for most hitters, but it’s a far cry from what he’s capable of. Machado only has nine home runs, so it looks like 2021 will be the first time Machado fails to crack 30 bombs in a 162-game season since 2014. Myers has likewise taken a step back from an excellent 2020. Myers currently sports his lowest ISO since 2014 and his lowest xwOBA of the Statcast Era.
The Padres have been excellent on the other side of the ball despite injuries to Adrian Morejón and Dinelson Lamet. Morejón is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery while Lamet has only made seven starts in between two separate trips to the IL. The Padres vaunted starting rotation ranks eighth in FIP, and Joe Musgrove is leading the way.
Still, Blake Snell has struggled mightily with his command. Coming into his start on Wednesday, Snell had walked 13.5 percent of batters. He only walked two yesterday, but he also didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. Snell gave up seven runs in 3 1⁄3 innings while only striking out one. That brought his FIP up to 4.37 and ERA up to 5.72. Snell has completed six innings just twice this year.
The Padres are scuffling right now, and outside a nine-game win streak, they’ve yet to fire on all cylinders. That doesn’t mean they can’t finish strong. FanGraphs still gives them an 82.5 percent chance of making it to the postseason. They’ve been fortunate that the Dodgers haven’t distanced themselves even if the Giants being legitimately good adds another wrinkle. In 2020, the Padres benefited from the 60-game season. In 2021, they’ll benefit from a full 162.
Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.