Some Perspective On Slow Starts

I don’t personally follow Jon Morosi, but I found this on my Twitter timeline Sunday evening, retweeted by fellow Padres fans. It’s true, the Tigers were under .500 on July 5, 2012, and then went on to get swept by the Giants in the World Series. The Padres are under .500 right now and just got swept by the Giants. These are factual statements. Here are more:

 The Tigers were then over .500 on July 7. On April 22, the Tigers were 10-6. The Padres are 5-13 on April 22.

The Tigers were never more than 6 games under .500 last season. They spent much of the first half hovering close to that .500 mark, then picked things up after the All-Star Break to finish comfortably ahead of the pack in their weak division. The Padres are already 8 games under .500 and a full 8 games back from first place in the division.

The Tigers had Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister. Those 6 players combined for 32 fWAR in 2012. The entire Padres team, whose front office decided to almost entirely stand pat in the offseason, combined for 25.5 fWAR in 2012.

The Padres had one star in 2012, named of course Chase Headley. His 7.2 fWAR was a revelation. No one else on the team came within a full win above replacement of the Tigers’ sixth most valuable player in 2012, Doug Fister, who had a nice but not amazing 3.5 fWAR.

Who on the Padres, other than Headley, is capable at this point of a 3.5 fWAR season? Chris Denorfia is off to a hot start and will likely be the first player on the team to 1 WAR this year, but he’s still not really a full-time player. Cam Maybin has been a 4 fWAR player when healthy, but his chronic wrist injury has now been diagnosed as a wrist impingement, and he’s likely going to miss at least a month. Nick Hundley is off to a good start, but he’s not likely to keep his role as starting catcher all year. Yonder Alonso? Nah. Carlos Quentin? Not if he can’t stay on the field more than 100 games. Any pitcher? LOL.

Sweeping the Dodgers last week was great, but let’s take a quick look at the pitchers they faced along the way. After Monday’s start, Chad Billingsley is now looking at possible Tommy John surgery. Chris Capuano aggravated a calf injury in the Quentin/Greinke brawl, and then partially tore his calf muscle in his start Tuesday, landing him on the DL. Plus, Capuano wasn’t very good to begin with. The only really impressive win of the series was against Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday, in Headley’s return to the lineup. I can’t knock that one. That was a lot of fun.

I’m not saying that the Padres are out of it already, though many would say they were out of it before the season even started. What I’m saying is that the Padres aren’t much like the Tigers at all. Nor were they ever going to be much like last year’s A’s. If they’re going to be like last year’s Orioles, they better turn things around soon. The Orioles got off to a 14-9 start last year, played .500 ball the next 3 months, then went crazy in August and September.

The Padres brass said they couldn’t afford to get off to another slow start this year. Mission not accomplished so far.

The Vocal Minority posts every Monday. I was going to write something ambitious, but it completely flopped, so I threw this together on deadline. Follow me on Twitter @The_NV. I really like Fangraphs. I’m going to bed now.

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