Apr
05
2021

Los Padres: Best In The West

The San Diego Padres have come out red hot, nearly sweeping the D-Backs in their opening series 3-1. One of the more exciting teams of the 2021 MLB season, the Padres bring confidence and swagger to the field similar to that of last year’s LA Dodgers.

Having missed the playoffs every year since 2006, this powerhouse Padres team finally completed their four-year rebuild last year. They won the wild card round against the Cardinals but were swept in the divisional round by the soon-to-be world champion LA Dodgers.

Led by superstar SS Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres are making an early case for possible world series champs this year. I predict they make it to the NL Championship series, and no further.

Rebuild

The Padres record in 2019 was 70-92. They fired manager Andy Green in September 2019, handing the reins over to Jayce Tingler. Since the beginning of the Tingler era last year, San Diego improved to 37-23. They improved from the last place to second in a very difficult NL West division. A rookie manager, Tingler came to San Diego from the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff as a player development field coordinator. The front office and Tingler worked together to build this team’s pitching squad and add key players when needed.

It took four years to build this team into what it is today. The Padres began rebuilding in 2016 by trading James Shields to the White Sox in exchange for 26-year-old RHP Erik Johnson and 17-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. They made several other moves that year, essentially dumping a significant chunk of their human capital in exchange for pitching depth and firepower. Players dumped in 2016 include Fernando Rodney, Drew Pomeranz, Matt Kemp, BJ Upton, and Andrew Cashner.

Two years later, they made a splash in 2018 free agency, signing third baseman Manny Machado. Some consider this to be their biggest signing in franchise history. Last year, Machado had a .304 BA, 47 RBI, and .950 OPS (Keep in mind, we only played 60 games last year.)

Padres improved their pitching, even more, this past offseason by signing Rays’ ace Blake Snell and Braves’ veteran Mark Melancon. Snell has a career ERA of 3.21 and an above-average career WHIP of 1.24.

Market

San Diego is about 120 miles south of Los Angeles. The population of San Diego is 1.4 million as of 2019. It’s safe to say, this is not a particularly big market as far as major league cities go. For Example, the population of Tampa Bay, another small-market team, is 3.1 million.

Additionally, the Padres have to compete for market share with the Dodgers and Angels in the next big town over. It is also important to note that the Padres have a big fan base in Mexico, which is not included in a team’s general market calculations.

Bleacher Report had the San Diego Padres listed as 26th out of 30 teams in terms of Market share:

San Diego is another small market in terms of total personage, but the unique twist is that some percentage of the Padres’ support comes from Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who are not part of that calculus at all. The Padres have to derive a fair amount of their revenue from attendance and ballpark-based ads, as well as merchandise. PETCO Park is a fine joint, potentially up to that task, but it does one thing that makes it unsavory for that purpose: It robs home runs and kills offense.

Matt Trueblood, Bleacher Report

With their skill level, they will get quite a few nationally televised games, if they haven’t already. Ad revenue will grow, and so will their market. On the other hand, since we are seeing a movement of people leaving California and moving to states such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida, their population could come down in the coming years.

The Padres seem to be compensating for their small market with their talent and advertising. Seats at Petco helps, but under covid guidelines, ads are where the majority of their revenue will come from.

Winning Now

It’s no secret that this team is ready to win now, so how are they going to do it?

The Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler has built a winning culture in Southern California by surrounding the locker room with top talent pitchers. This team is stacked with great pitching top to bottom. Their playbook is focused on elite pitching and carried by great defensive players. Defense and pitching are what will carry this team to the NL Championship series.

Tatis Jr. is also a huge individual contributor to the idea of ‘winning now.” With excellent lateral movement, he plays the shortstop position flawlessly. Very agile. The Padres signed their superstar to a 14 year, $340M extension back in February.

This is where I’m going to build my legacy.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

This is a very fun team to watch, and they are going to continue to be dominant throughout this season. Many more victories and bat flips to come from this SoCal club.