Monday May 3, 2010
Web gave me a couple of subjects he had wanted to cover and asked me to take a stab at them in his absence.
Today I chose to cover a subject that most people were saying was not possible. From what we have seen from the first month of baseball is not only possible, Its happening.
5 Reasons Why the Padres will be Better in 2010
#1 - The Padres had a .284 babip in 2009 - the 2nd lowest in baseball.
They were unlucky to the tune of 15 points. As Web would say, they are due for a regression towards the mean.
#2 - The Padres had a 96 OPS+ in 2009. Good for 8th best in NL. While all the "experts" on ESPN, MLB Networks and the other sports media were saying the Padres were the worst offensive team in NL, they went out and ranked right in the middle of the pack in park adjusted offense. Park Factors are still beyond the understanding of many in the media.
#3 - The Padres hit 141 hr in 2009. This was good for 13th in NL even though they play home games in Petco. Petco Park depresses HR totals 30% overall. Even playing in Petco, the Padres total was much closer to the league average of 155 than the 16th worst in NL of 95 hr. With Blanks and Venable playing a full season and the return of Scott Hairston, the Padres should produce better power numbers in 2010.
#4 - WPA - the Padres were 5th in the NL at 1.96. WPA is the measure of how well you do in high leverage situations. The Padres obviously did well despite playing half their games in Petco.
#5 - The Padres had a 16.1 WAR in 2009, which ranked 9th in the NL. WAR, or wins above replacement, measures how well a team does offensively and defensively compared to how a AAA player being called up would do. In 2010 the Padres will see improvements in offense for the reasons covered above and will improve on defense to an even greater degree just by having Venable start regularly in RF and having Blanks play in LF instead of the defensively challanged Headley.
What does all that add up to?
The Padres were unlucky offensively last season, play in the toughest park in baseball to hit in and still ended up being a league average team in almost every category.
A little luck, a litle improvement and some young players getting to play every day and for a full seasoin will = a better offensive team.
Defensively the improvement will be even greater with some talented defensive players getting to be on the field daily and Chase Headley being moved to his natural position at 3B from Lf where every ball was an adventure for him.
The Ancillary to the Padres being better?
Why these teams in the NL West will not improve in 2010.
They had a team 88 OPS+ with a .299 babip in 2009. They were neither lucky nor unlucky and they stunk with the bat. This season they added 2 players in Kelly Johnson who has an 83 OPS+ and Adam LaRoche who had among the highest Babip in the league amongst 1B at .328 and among the lowest wOBA combined with consistently below average defense for his career, that is a step backwards from a misearable 2009 campaign.
Yes I realize that Johnson has 9 HR right now, but regression towards the mean is a bitch. Expect a .240 average with 15-20 HR by the end of the season after he gets hurt again. He has already missed some games with injuries and there is no reason to believe that trend wont continue.
Los Angeles Dodgers
In 2009 they had a team 104 OPS+ with a .309 BABIP about 10 points toward lucky. They lost a boatload of position players including several starters. For Example they replaced a OPS+ 109 from Orlando Hudson with a 68 from Blake Dewitt at 2B. Their backup in the oufield went from OPS+ 105 Juan Pierre to OPS+ 89 Reed Johnson. Manny Ramirez is a shadow of his steroid self and has already hit the DL once. Same old Manny. Now they have the punch and judy Xavier Paul starting in LF and AJ Ellis backing up at catcher.
Their pitching staff is in even more trouble. They lost inning eating middle of the rotation starters Randy Wolf and Jon Garland and replaced them with Charlie Haeger and Vicente Padilla (who is already on the DL).
They had a team 81 OPS+ and NL worst .305 wOBA in 2009. To remedy that incredibly bad offense they added Aubrey Huff and his .297 wOBA and 81 OPS+ to bat cleanup? This guy could barely secure a starting position on the Orioles roster in 2009. The 35 year old Mark DeRosa and his below league average 97 OPS+ and .327 wOBA is the offensive savior that is giving Giants fans hope? Give me a break. He is a #6 hitter even on the Giants.
The bottom line in ATT Park? They can't hit, they can't run and they are not very good defensively. They are an old club and do not have much depth. Even with the best pitching staff in baseball, the Giants cannot afford even a single injury if they want to compete. I expect them to compete early and then fade as injuries to an old club take their toll.
- Vic Power