Could the San Diego Padres’ plan actually be working? It looks like all it took was a little bit of luck and health for the team’s star players to start winning games.
The Padres have won five of their last six games, and have a 5-2 record since the return of Carlos Quentin to the lineup. Quentin served out an eight-game suspension for charging Dodgers pitcher Zach Greinke.
That 5-2 also applies to games this season in which their two best hitters, Quentin and Chase Headley, were in the lineup. The Padres’ biggest struggle has always been in scoring, but it’s possible they’ve finally found the right mix of talent to be a threat at the plate every night.
One of my favorite stats for identifying good hitters is OPS, which stands for “On-base plus slugging.” A baseball player with a high OPS gets on base regularly and also hits for power. There are currently 39 starting position players in the National League with an OPS of .800 or higher, and the Padres have four of them in Headley, Quentin, Yonder Alonso and Nick Hundley.
It’s not just the middle of the lineup that has been producing, either.
Everth Cabrera has an on-base percentage of .371 (22nd best in the NL) and has stolen seven bases (tied for third in the NL). Chris Denorfia has earned a starting spot by hitting over .300 while Cameron Maybin recovers from injury. There’s even reason to believe that this lineup will actually get better. Rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko hasn’t been a phenom, but he’s solid at the plate and keeps improving. Yasmani Grandal, who had an OPS of .863 as a rookie last season, will be eligible to return in about three weeks.
Could this be a winning team in 2013 as long as Headley and Quentin stay healthy? I’m not sure. The starting pitching had been rocky so far, but back-to-back wins by Edinson Volquez, two solid starts by Andrew Cashner and plenty of good work from the relievers have settled things down. Whether they stay settled will go a long way toward determining the future of the organization.
Word came out today that the San Diego Padres are putting together an offer that would make Headley the highest-paid player in franchise history, and they hope to have him signed to that extension by the middle of this season. How much they offer, and how smoothly negotiations go, could be determined by the success of this year’s team, which has been built around Headley and Quentin. Quentin signed a contract extension last season that could keep him with the Padres through 2016.
Early scuffles have the team’s pitchers currently ranked 28th in ERA, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and WHIP (walks/hits allowed per inning). Signs of life from the starting rotation, paired with an offense that can actually score runs, has renewed hope in Padres fans that the 2013 season isn’t completely lost — yet.