The Season Is Over?

The Padres are off to a 2-4 start. Not great.  In fact, at the time of this post, its the fourth-worst record in MLB, surpassed on the futility scale only by Baltimore (2-5), Cincinnati (2-5), and Arizona (2-7).  Given the slow starts of the last few years, there’s not much patience out there.

And yet there should be. Nate touched on this yesterday; allow me to talk further about it today.

Currently the Padres are hitting .189/.255/.258 as a team.  That is, without question, awful.  But here’s the thing:  that’s based on 211 Plate Appearances.  How many PA’s did the Padres have last year?  6,122.  In 2012 a Padre walked to the plate 6,112 times.  I’m not writing the season off after only 3% of the expected PA’s have been taken.

What I’m talking about here is the small sample size principle.

Jedd Gyorko is 2 for his first 21.  Last year he went 121 for 486.  He’s taken 4% of the ABs he took in 2013.  To match his 2013 numbers he needs to hit .255 the rest of the season (last year he hit .249).  Totally doable.  And, he’ll likely be closer to 600 AB, so there’s plenty of opportunity to catch – and surpass, which is really what we’re expecting – his 2013 numbers.  Chase Headley, Yonder Alonso, Will Venable – I can make the same point.  Now is not the time to panic after only a handful of at-bats.

The other thing to bear in mind is where we are in the season.  Everything is magnified the first week(s), because there’s nothing else to compare it to.  Would we be collectively losing our minds if this little slump happened in mid-June?  Maybe a little, but not to the degree some are freaking out now.  It would be (correctly) attributed to the ebbs and flows of the baseball season.  Every team goes through winning and losing streaks over the course of a 6-month season.  Everyone goes through slumps and hot streaks. What’s so frustrating – understandably so – is right now no one other than Yasmani Grandal is hitting over .270.  But it will turn around.  The Law of Regression to the Mean mandates it.

Before you accuse me of being a corporate shill, a quick word about the off-season.  The Padres have, and this past off-season continued, to sink a lot of resources into high risk/high reward players.  Carlos Quentin is the most obvious example.  This is his third year with the club, and he’s played just over a full season.  He’s made $119,047.61 per game so far in his Padres career (168 games).  Carlos has missed almost an entire season, and is missing more time right now.  When he’s on the DL he’s not helping the club.

And yet the Padres continue to use this model.  Josh Johnson was touted as a top 3 starter for this team.  He’s had a recent history of ineffectiveness and arm trouble.  He’s on the DL as well.  Cameron Maybin‘s been hurt a lot over the last year-plus.  And so on.  The frustration over how the roster was constructed is, I think, legitimate; but it should be a separate argument from their slow start.  It contributes, but it’s a separate argument.

Except for Seth Smith, everyone currently starting played for the Padres last year. Except for Alexi Amarista, all of them had OPS+ over 100 last year (even Grandal, albeit in a small sample).  These were average or slightly above average hitters in 2013.

Frustration is understandable, and even healthy, with their slow start.  Concerns about the roster are legit.  And it’s still too early to write this season off.

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  • Dubsco

    The fact that this even has to be written and people may accuse this as “shilling” really shows to me how ridiculous a portion of this fanbase is.

    • VM David

      If he wants to be the PA announcer he better play the game the right way, or something.

      • I’d better scrap those plans to draw out the ‘norf’ in Denorfia then.

      • DENO-rfia. Otherwise, you’re just a corporate plant trying to prevent US from getting THE RING.

    • I can not emphasize enough how important realizing that “portion” is the key word in that statement is.

    • Change the Padres

      Straw man argument.

  • Geoff Young

    The Padres started out 10-2 in 1984, then lost 18 of their next 29 games. They probably just should have called it quits on May 22 and been content to finish third in the NL West. Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about that World Series appearance now.

    • Change the Padres

      Not sure what you’re trying to say here. That all zero of the fans who are saying the Padres might as well stop playing already shouldn’t do so? Or that the 2014 Padres could make an appearance in the World Series because a team with the same name did so 30 years ago?

      • Geoff Young

        I’m trying to say precisely what I said.

  • GoldenBoy

    The Padres have had to face Grienke, Ryu, Fernandez & Eovaldi too, all at the beginning of the season when players might still be a little rusty. That’s a serious challenge. And Haren looked really good against us too, for what it’s worth. It was last Friday’s collapse against against Tom Koehler that really brought fan frustration to the forefront.

    Having to face all this elite pitching early in the season makes this Cleveland series all the more important. Their starters are seriously struggling, providing us with an opportunity to turns things around, just in time for the challenge of facing Porcello, Verlander & Smyly over the weekend.

    Another layer to our organizational strategy has been to acquire former top prospect talent that have since disappointed. Cashner, Kennedy, Ross, Alonso, Denorfia, Maybin Casey Kelly… these guys are all former top prospects who haven’t quite lived up to the hype. You can put Jesse Hahn into that same category too.

    • Jacob Guerriero

      Strike that Smyly and replace it with Scherzer. That really ups the ouch factor a bit…

  • Change the Padres

    Is anyone saying the season is over because the team is 2-4?

    Fact of the matter is that the Padres themselves stated that getting off a fast start and having better health in 2014 were two of the keys to their season. They’re well on their way towards violating the latter and don’t have too much time left to accomplish the former. If the Padres explicitly stated path towards a better season doesn’t come true, why should fans believe the team will succeed?

    You can preach about players regressing to their career figures – and they will, sure – but if they do that, then they’re the same 72 Pythagorean win team they were in 2013. In other words, bad. Again.

    The season’s not over, but a team whose median projected win total was less than 78 has World Series odds very close to being statistically-equivalent to zero if they start in the hole the way they have in past seasons.

    • – Yes, based on what I saw in my Twitter feed over the past 3 days. I didn’t think to mark those tweets so sadly I can’t back that up post-mortem.

      – What qualifies as a fast start? Is 7 games enough to say they didn’t meet that? Do they need to be over .500 by the 15th game? The 20th game? Would 15-10 qualify? It’s still too early to say they’ve started slowly. I agree it’s starting to get late, but I’m not willing to pass final judgment at this point. Better health, well, if the Padres explicitly listed something they have little control over as a key to their season, that was a poorly thought out position.

      – No argument. As I said at the end of the post, the roster is a problem, and not much was done to upgrade last year’s offense other than acquiring Seth Smith to replace Mark Kotsay.