In 2014, the Padres won 48 games at home. That was better than every team in the NL West and all but 3 teams in the National League (Washington, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh, who all won 51).
On the road, it was a different story. The Padres won 29 games, the second lowest total in all of baseball (the lowest total: Colorado with 21).
The 19 game win differential between home and road was the second largest differential in baseball, second only to those same Rockies.
First, a bit on the importance of that 19 game difference. This year, both NL Wild Card teams, one of which played in the World Series this year, won 88 games. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that it was not too long ago the Padres won 90 games only to miss out on the playoffs (the obvious caveat being there was only 1 wild card back then). Which means a 41-40 record on the road would have equaled a playoff spot. That might seem easy on the surface, but keep in mind that would have been a better road record than Oakland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis to name a few.
All of this is to say that for the Padres to compete for a playoff spot, they will need to dramatically improve on the road. So what went wrong on the road this year?
While the Padres offense, hardly one that anyone would be afraid of, scored one more run on the road than home (268 vs 267), the Padres allowed a whopping 105 more runs to be scored on the road vs home (341 vs 236).
A few stats on this issue that I found interesting but can’t quite put into a coherent thought.
In 1 run games: 33-21
In Extra Innings: 10-5
When Leading After 6: 60-1
When Losing After 6: 9-71
What that mostly tells me is that the Padres were basically incapable of coming back in a game. Which, when you are last in runs scored, BA, and just about every other offensive category as a team, is not much of a surprise. It also makes this next stat the likely lynchpin as to why the Padres, despite success in 1 run games, extra inning games, and games in which they lead after 6, still ended up with 77 wins.
Runs Given Up Per Inning:
9: 27 (Obviously they don’t always play the bottom of the 9th which would explain why this number is so much lower)
By a healthy margin the Padres fell behind early. For an offense that didn’t have enough firepower to mount many comebacks, being down this often, this early, is not a recipe for success.
So, who was the culprit?
Home ERA: 3.93
Road ERA: 3.32
Home Runs Allowed: 45
Away Runs Allowed: 40
Home ERA: 1.43
Road ERA: 4.31
Home Runs Allowed: 17
Road Runs Allowed: 25
Yikes…but he only pitched 48 innings on the road this season.
Home ERA: 1.88
Road ERA: 3.79
Home Runs Allowed: 26
Road Runs Allowed: 49
Ding. It’s hard to explain why Ross struggled so much more on the road vs home. He struck out nearly a batter less, walked a batter more. Neither of which would seem to be effected by park effects. Ross gave up substantially more HR/FB on the road (17.5%) vs home (5.2%). That could be effected by the park (which, while Petco plays fairer it’s still a pitchers park). Oddly, he gives up slightly fewer flyballs on the road vs home. Perhaps the home runs are in part due to pitching from behind more? I really don’t know.
More oddly, Tyson Ross, while doubling his ERA on the road vs home in 2013 (small sample size alert!) he also pitched 20 more innings in 2013. But, unlike in 2014 his K/9 rate was better on the road and his HR/FB was more than double…at home.
This is a bunch of jargon ultimately and I’m not sure where it leads. Except it to say that Tyson Ross, as great as he is, needs to be better on the road. The Padres, to compete, can’t keep falling behind in the 1st inning.
And they need to win more than 29 games on the road.