Mid-Term Grades

It’s the All-Star break, so that means a whole bunch of articles assessing the half-year’s effort of each team. It’s a somewhat lazy post. Luckily I’m a lazy guy, so this fits nicely with my milieu. Without further ado, one blogger’s assessment of the 2014 Padres to date.

Grades were assigned based on games observed and after reviewing four metrics: xFIP, wRC+, Fangraphs WAR, and the Fielding Bible Runs Saved for defense.

Head Of The Class

  1. Seth Smith – Far and away the best Padre position player. wRC+ of 155 is 5th in the NL and 10th in baseball. Naturally his 2.2 WAR leads the hitters. Smith has been surprisingly nimble in the OF, saving 6 runs so far this season. A+
  2. Tyson Ross – His 3.07 xFIP is second-best among the starters. Ross would have significantly more than 7 wins if this team could hit AT ALL. Thank God we don’t care about wins anymore. No-hit caliber stuff every time he steps between the lines. A deserved selection to the All-Star team. A
  3. Jesse Hahn – A pleasant surprise. His 2.94 xFIP leads the starters and is second-best on the team. Hahn was recently sent down to limit his innings.  That means some lesser starters stay in the rotation, but given where this club is going in 2014 it makes total sense. The kid’s been great and has a bright future. A
  4. Joaquin BenoitThe Padres have lost one game when leading after eight, and Benoit has been one of the big reasons why. He has the best xFIP on the staff (2.92) and has been worth 0.7 WAR. Too bad he likely won’t finish the season here. Bring us some good prospects! A
  5. Huston Street Started the season with 22 consecutive saves. He is quietly putting together another stellar season. xFIP of 2.95 is third-best on the club. Many think he should have been the original choice for the All-Star team; glad he’s on the team. Too bad this is likely his swan song in San Diego. A
  6. Ian Kennedy In many ways this is a career year for Kennedy. Currently he sports his best-ever xFIP (3.17) and leads the team in WAR (2.3) – not the pitchers, the team. Too bad he’s probably also going to be traded. A
  7. Andrew Cashner There’s a lot of pitching on this list, and there should be. The Padres have dominated on the bump. Cash’s 3.48 xFIP isn’t quite up to the level of the rest of this list, and he’s spent time on the DL, but he’s earned 1.4 WAR and he’s actually saved 4 runs with his glove. That gets you into the top bracket. A-

You Guys Get Ice Cream

  1. Rene RiveraRivera was a long shot to make the team out of Spring Training. Now he’s the de facto #1 catcher. Rene’s been league average with the bat (99 wRC+), but his 1.0 WAR is third best among the Padres hitters. Read that sentence again, then shake your head slowly. He’s also saved 4 runs this year with his glove. And we don’t even mention his pitch framing abilities. B+
  2. Odrisamer DespaigneThe Cuban pitcher has certainly come in and impressed. He mesmerized the Giants and hung in against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw. His xFIP of 4.14 is a little gaudy, but it’s based on three starts; that also explains his 0.3 WAR. He’s fun to watch. B
  3. Kevin Quackenbush 3.37 xFIP, 0.3 WAR, and a beard that’s equal parts Amish and that Lucky Charms leprechaun. B
  4. Jake Goebbert Ranked here because I like how his approach at the plate. In a VERY small sample size, 105 wRC+ and 0.2 WAR. B
  5. Chase HeadleyBeen a tough year for ol’ Chase, who’s missed time with two separate injuries. He’s still been worth 1.3 WAR, although most of that is probably from his glove, which has saved 6 runs at third. His wRC+ is as bad as you would expect: 87. Here’s hoping his recent hot streak is a harbinger of another dynamite second half. B
  6. Cameron Maybin 88 wRC+, 0.9 WAR, playing his usual stellar defense in center (+4). Was injured to start the year. B
  7. Tommy Medica 93 wRC+, 0.0 WAR. He’d be higher except he’s cost the team a run because Bud Black insists on playing him in LF (2 runs saved at 1B, 3 runs lost in LF). That appeal to get the cycle didn’t help either. B-

Spectacularly Average

  1. Alex Torres4.18 xFIP, -0.1 WAR, saved one run with his glove. He gets an up check for the Charlie Brown hat. C+
  2. Alexi Amarista Terrible with the bat (73 wRC+), not terrible with the glove. His 6 runs saved ties him for second on the team, remarkable since he plays 4 positions. Two he plays well (+3 at 3B, +5 at SS). Two he doesn’t play so well (-2 at 2B, 0 in CF). Well CF is a wash. Sorry, Ghost. C+
  3. Blaine Boyer 3.81 xFIP, 0.2 WAR. Turning into a dependable arm out of the bullpen. C
  4. Chris Denorfia Plays a great RF (+4 Runs Saved), league average in the rest of the OF. I will never look at him as a defensive replacement for Quentin quite the same way again. 79 wRC+, 0.6 WAR. C

Detention

  1. Yasmani Grandal – Struggling with the bat (92 wRC+), but at least he can’t field (-6 Runs Saved at C/1B). His 0.3 WAR is about right. And he’s lost the starting job behind the plate. Been a tough 2 years for Yasmani. D
  2. Yonder Alonso – Killing it with his glove: his +8 Runs Saved is #1 among first baseman in the Fielding Bible ratings. Good thing because he’s killing the Padres with his 65 wRC+ and -0.3 WAR. D
  3. Dale Thayer – May not be fair since his xFIP isn’t atrocious (3.49), but it does seem whenever he pitches he gives up the go-ahead run. Or maybe I’m still seeing that HR Brandon Belt hit. He’s cost the team 3 runs with his glove (hard to do for a pitcher, folks) and has a 0.0 WAR. D-
  4. Will Venable Will should only be allowed to play RF (+6 Runs Saved; -4 in CF) and should never be allowed to hit. 54 wRC+ is pretty bad but not the worst on this team. -0.5 WAR. D-
  5. Irving Falu Ian Kennedy has a higher wRC+ (15) than Irving’s paltry 14. But, thanks to a +2 at second, he’s been worth 0.1 WAR. High Fives all around! D-

My Eyes – The Goggles Do Not Work!

  1. Eric Stults – Worst xFIP on the staff (4.38), worst WAR among the pitchers (-0.9). Soft-tossing lefties are near and dear to my heart, but watching Stults this year has been painful. F
  2. Jace Peterson – negative-44 wRC+. That’s an amazing achievement. Also -0.7 WAR and cost the team a run with his defense at third. F
  3. Carlos Quentin – Love the intensity, love the lack of walk-up music. But the Big Fella has been downright awful this season. 78 wRC+, -0.9 WAR, -3 in LF. F
  4. Everth Cabrera – Oh what a difference a year (and lack of PEDs?) makes. 55 wRC+, -1.0 WAR, average defense. F
  5. Jedd Gyorko – Plantar Fasciitis mercifully gave the kid a break from this nightmare of a season. 35 wRC+, -1.2 WAR (worst on the team), cost the Padres 4 runs with his defense at second. F
  6. Brooks Conrad – Only 28 PA in the first half, but hasn’t done much. 12 wRC+, -0.2 WAR, -3 Runs Saved at second. INCOMPLETE

Some might consider VM David’s post following Tim Lincecum’s second no-no against the Home 9 as a nice alternate, succinct summation of this season. Frankly I don’t disagree.

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  • Billy Lybarger

    18 guys with an average grade or better, yet the team is 13 games under .500. I don’t want to say you might be a bit soft on your grading system, but I bet if you were a teacher you’d be a student favorite.

    • Padres pitching has been excellent this year, which is reflected in these grades. They shouldn’t be punished just because the offense has been historically awful.

      I did take into account defensive contributions so yeah, some of the position players grade out higher then they would if I looked at their offense only. Even so Smith is the only superior hitter. Performance vs preseason expectation played a role for some (Rivera).

      I do think overall the grades assigned are fair, though. The Padres are bad because their every day players are bad. And those guys are largely in the D/F range.

      • Billy Lybarger

        Fair enough. I do think you have a couple of guys with little to no (or slightly negative) WAR graded a bit too high, but no biggie.
        Thanks for the reply.

      • voxratio

        In fairness, some of the Ds and Fs have been much more detrimental to the team than the As and Bs have helped. So, it could be possible to have a lot of average to positive grades and still have an overall D/F result.

  • ballybunion

    Now you have to boil down the individual grades to team grades. Pitching: starting, bullpen, closer. Defense: infield, outfield, catcher. Offense: average, power, situational hitting, running the bases. Bench: fill-in defense, fill-in hitting, lefty-righty pinch hitting, base running. Coaching: manager, bench coach, hitting & pitching coaches, 1B/3B coaching.

    Best I can do is note that Josh Byrnes put together a contender quality staff, picked up a thin reserve squad, and had nothing to do with injured position players hitting far below their norms. This looks like a team that would have a winning record if the hitters hit their normal levels, but still need a couple more pieces to be a serious contender. The team should stand pat at the trade deadline and let the new GM assess where to upgrade, even on deciding what to do with Headley.

  • voxratio

    The grading consistency is the only issue I have – if you are going to weight grades based on performance versus preseason expectation for some, you should do it for all. Or mitigate it by noting injuries. That type of approach could actually push a garbage player like Amarista into the B range, because he has far exceeded expectations to this point. It should also knock Headley down into probably the D range, maybe C- if you give him a positive curve due to his injuries. I’ve been a Denorfia fan but he went from great at the beginning of the season to awful now.

    I can’t give Grandal, Venable or Alonso anything but an F. Their defense just can’t cover their sub-replacement level offense. There at least have been glimmers of hope from Alonso and Grandal, but I agree with you that Venable shouldn’t see the plate.

    • In hindsight, the grading was a little inconsistent. Fair comment.

  • cindyLowe

    If only we had last year’s offense combined with this years pitching. We scored 100 more runs by this time last year than we’ve scored this year. That would probably put us in 1st place.