The San Diego Padres were one of the most disappointing teams in MLB during the 2021 season, after finishing with a 79-83 record.
Expectations were much, much higher.
However, there are reasons to believe better days could be ahead if they play their cards right.
Here are three of those reasons.
3. A Legitimate Top-10 Player
As long as the Padres have Fernando Tatis Jr. on their roster and healthy, they will have a chance of contending for the playoffs.
In 2021, he was a legitimate MVP candidate while playing only 130 games, often limited by pain in his shoulder after a scary injury during the first half.
All in all, his numbers were extremely impressive: a .282/.364/.611 line, 42 home runs, 99 runs, 97 RBI, and 25 stolen bases.
If dancing & swag produced these 2021 numbers, 6.6 WAR, .975 OPS, .611 Slugging %, .282 BA, .364 OBP, 42 homers, 31 doubles, 97 RBIs & 25 steals in 130 games, I hope Tatís Jr. shows even more swag & dances a little more in 2022…
— Marie Coronel (@10NewsCoronel) November 13, 2021
Had he been healthy for the entire year, he could have had a shot at a 50-40 season.
Tatis is easily the Padres’ best player, and had 6.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2021.
He will have a full offseason to rest and rehab that achy shoulder and go back to playing with no restrictions.
He is the main reason why the Padres, and their fans, can remain optimistic about the future.
After signing a mammoth contract extension, he will be the Padres’ face for a long, long time.
2. The Return Of Mike Clevinger
The Padres rotation had some issues in 2021.
Yu Darvish had some problems finding consistency after the ban of foreign substances on the ball, and finished with a 4.22 ERA.
Blake Snell’s first half was disastrous, and he ended the year with a 4.20 ERA.
Only Joe Musgrove (3.18 ERA in 181.1 innings) was good and consistent all year long.
Mike Clevinger lost the whole season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
However, he is expected to be ready for spring training, and can almost be considered as a quality signing for a team in need of some pitching talent.
Can’t forget impact Mike Clevinger could have in 2022
Remember, at time the Padres acquired him, these were lowest ERA marks amongst SP since 2017:
– Jacob deGrom (2.49)
– Clayton Kershaw (2.64)
– Max Scherzer (2.71)
– Justin Verlander 2.82)
– 𝙈𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝘾𝙡𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙧 (2.97)
— Javier Herbert Reyes (@Javiipeno) November 26, 2021
The Padres’ rotation ranked 18th in MLB with a mediocre 4.54 ERA, and Clevinger and his career 3.19 ERA will help alleviate the situation somewhat.
1. The Offseason Isn’t Over, And They Have Resources To Bring In Upgrades
The Padres are a quality team, certainly much better than what they showed in 2021.
However, they still need to improve their roster if they want to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
They need to find a way to get rid of Eric Hosmer’s contract so they can reinvest that money on a new first baseman, an outfielder, or some more pitching.
They just lost their closer, too, as Mark Melancon signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The roster as a whole needs a few improvements, but the good thing is that they will have another chance of bringing in upgrades once the lockout is lifted.
And the Padres have reasons to be optimistic, because while they don’t have a ton of financial flexibility, they do have some very good prospects.
They could use some of them as trade bait to bring in some much-needed offensive reinforcements and use free agency to improve the bullpen.