Those Padres look at your measly preseason predictions, the ones that said the Padres would be by and far the last place team in the National League West, if not the entire National League, and they point and laugh.
At Memorial Day, it’s flukish, by July 4th it’s something you notice, but when you’re team is still sitting in first as we approach the middle of August, it’s time to take your preseason predictions, tear them up and throw them in the fire place.
It’s tempting to argue that the Padres play in a weak division, but this isn’t necessarily true–they have the fewest losses of any National League team, and are only one win behind Atlanta and Cincinnati. If the Padres have the luxury of a weak division, then the National League as a whole is a weak league–and while there’s a gap between the American and National Leagues I can’t imagine it’s that big.
It’s not exactly a secret that the Padres have gotten the entire thing done with pitching–a young rotation, with Mat Latos garnering much attention, and a shut down bullpen that includes Luke Gregerson and Heath Bell. In fact, Bell, born in 1977 (33), is the oldest pitcher on the Padres’ active roster, and the third oldest player after Miguel Tejada (’74) and journeyman Matt Stairs (’68).
Most teams go through ups and downs in a season, but somehow, a team that was predicted to finish last by many reputable outlets, has reached the middle of August without having lost more than three in a row this season. The only other team to do that? The New York Yankees.
The big question mark with the team has been their hitting; in terms of runs scored they rank only 11th in the National League, but they were able to acquire Ryan Ludwick at the deadline for a substantially cheaper price than one might have expected, given that the Cardinals are also contending.
Are the Padres a one year wonder? Can they do this again next year?
Well, YCPB isn’t in the business of predicting baseball–that would, uh, may my head explode and cover my keyboard with grey matter–but perhaps we ought not to forget than in 2007 the Padres were one botched Holliday call at home plate from playing in the postseason, and while it may seem like another lifetime, 2007 was only three years ago.
You never know.