The San Diego Padres have seen a surge in ticket sales as they head into the 2019 season thanks to signing Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million contract. But he’s only going to do so much to improve a roster that finished 2018 with a 66-96 record and a dead last finish in the NL West.
San Diego has a propensity for going all in randomly by signing a big free agent. In 2015 the Padres signed starting pitcher James Shields after trading for Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers in a bid to push for one of the two wildcard spots; the squad lost three mores games in ’15 than it did and ’14, before completely collapsing in 2016.
Now the team, still looking to end its playoff drought, went out and signed one of the biggest (and youngest) names in baseball.
Let’s be clear that Manny Machado is one hell of a ball player, and he’s coming off of a career year that saw him succeed despite being traded across the country. During the 2018 season, Machado was worth 6.2 wins in a large part thanks to his bat; the 26-year old hit .297/.367/.538 with a 141 wRC+. One of the largest reasons for his success was that he was a hard out at the plate with a walk rate of 9.9% and a ridiculously low strikeout rate of 14.7%. San Diego is getting an extremely talented hitter that will improve on its putrid offense from a year ago.
Overall, the Padres’ posted the third worst wRC+ in baseball thanks to a no power and a propensity for striking out. The offense is going to get a big boost in production by bringing in Machado; but it’s going to need a lot more help in order to overcome its issues.
The biggest problem facing San Diego’s bats is its lack of power and that high strikeout rate. There are many ways to state that the Padres had little pop from their lineup last season, they made a wOBA of .294, a slugging percentage of .380, and a ISO of .145. Without the extra base hits, the offense was inefficient and struggled to score runs as the Padres averaged 3.81 runs per game (also, third worst). Not being able to score puts a lot of pressure on a pitching staff that wasn’t the worst part of their roster.
Their pitching staff was surprisingly effective in a season that saw them rebuilding from the collapse of the last few years. San Diego’s staff pitched 4.41/4.10/3.99 last year while striking out 22.4% of batters faced. But they weren’t good enough to avoid giving up home runs throughout the year; the Padres’ had a disturbingly high 1.14 home runs per nine innings in 2018. If the pitchers can lower the home run rate while striking out runners at a similar rate in 2019…that would do a lot for decreasing the number of runs scored by the opposition.
If the Padres are going to have any chance of success this season, the pitching staff is going to need to need to improve dramatically in order to carry their limp offense through the season.