Thursday, April 23, 2009

Misconceptions About Padres - Offense First

Thursday April 23, 2009

Misconceptions about Padres.

I keep hearing some things that are just so wrong that I feel compelled to dispel some of these false notions. I am going to take them one by one and cover them in some detail.

#1 Misconception
– The Padres Offense was terrible in 2008
(The corollary is that the 2009 offense will be terrible also).

First let me say this – If you thought that the Padres offense was bad in 2008 as compared to the rest of the NL West, you were dead wrong.

The Padres actually LED the NL West in OPS+.
San Diego - 94
Los Angeles - 92
Colorado - 91
Arizona - 88
San Francisco - 83

OPS+ is a park adjusted stat that shows On Base Percentage plus Slugging and is used by almost every professional team to measure true offensive output.

The Padres play in far and away the worst hitters park in baseball. The Padres park is about 12% harder to score runs in than the next worst hitters park and is 20.4% worse than the league average. No one can score runs well in Petco. It is not just the Padres.

Compared to parks like Chase Field in Arizona and Coors Field it is nearly 33% worse. Meaning that 33% more runs would score with the same hitters in Chase or Coors fields.

Another good measure of offense is how your team hit on the road. The ballparks you play in on the road are roughly the same for each team in the division so they even out the offensive production over a season.

Here is how the Padres stacked up against the NL West.
Padres Giants Rockies Dodgers DBacks
BA .260 .260 .247 .263 .234
OBP .319 .317 .322 .332 .309
Slg .412 .374 .377 .400 .385
HR 88 49 68 70 82
Runs 348 326 336 349 328

The Diamondbacks were the worst in baseball on the road. The Padres were actually better offensively at home, in the worst hitters park in baseball, than the Diamondbacks were on the road.

Does this mean the Padres were a great offensive team?
By no means. They were pretty much average for the NL in 2008.

As compared to the 2008 NL Playoff teams the Padres ranked near the bottom in OPS+
Chicago - 103
Philadelphia - 100
Milwaukee – 97
San Diego - 94
Los Angeles - 92

I think much of the difference between the Padres and the front runners can be tied to one consideration.

The Padres had the worst string of injuries in MLB history in 2008 with 1244 player days spent on the DL. That is an average of 7.68 players on the DL every game.

So replace 7-8 ML players with minor leaguers in each game and the difference in both hitting and pitching is substantial.

The major league average was about 400 player days on the DL or 2.47 players on the DL for any given game.

That would indicate that the Padres had 20% more of their positions filled with minor league players than the average team. What is the difference in production between a replacement level player (a minor leaguer) and the people who were on the DL? How many of those were position players?

Well, the Padres used 27 position players who had offensive stats to fill 13 spots on the roster.

They included such players as Paul McAnulty, Will Venable, Luke Carlin, Justin Huber, Matt Antonelli, Chip Ambres, Sean Kazmar, Callix Crabbe, Drew Macias, Brian Myrow and Craig Stansberry; as well as Edgar Gonzalez and Luis Rodriguez that are on the 2009 Padres.

Those players combined averages were:
0.213 0.294 0.309 0.603 67.14

What does that mean for 2009?

A full season of Chase Headley is better than the LF platoon before him in 2008.
It should mean an improvement in overall offense in LF

A full season of David Eckstein is better than the players that filled 2B in 2008.
It should mean an improvement in overall offense at 2B.

A full season of Luis Rodriguez, even at his career averages, is better than the players who filled SS before him in 2008.
It should mean an improvement in overall offense at SS.

The platoon of Gerut and Hairston in CF made the position one of the strongest in MLB in 2008. A full season of that same platoon is better than the players that filled CF before Gerut was called up and after he and Hairston was injured late in the season.
It should mean an improvement over the overall production in CF.

A full season of Nick Hundley and Henry Blanco splitting starts at catcher is better than the 2008 production from that position.
It should mean an improvement in overall offense at Catcher.

Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff played nearly every game of 2008 at 1B and 3B. Reasonably you should be able to expect them to combine for much the same offensive production as 2008.

Only in RF, patrolled by the 38 year old Brian Giles, should the Padres expect to see any decline in performance.

So the team that led the NL West in OPS+ in 2008 should be better at 5 of 8 positions, maintain performance at 2 positions and see a small decline at 1 position.

Overall it should mean better offensive production from the Padres in 2008 and the Chone Projection system from Sean Smith at showed exactly that.