Photo via Kelvin Kuo
The 2020 San Diego Padres have a different zest this season.
Sure, the classic “Swinging Friar” brown and gold uniforms add to the appeal, but it is not the sole factor toward San Diego’s new look.
The main factor toward the Padres’ renaissance, instead, has come in their lineup production.
While it seems simplistic enough, San Diego has infamously struggled with the lumber in season’s past. After all, dating back to the 2008 season, the Padres have ranked in the bottom third in MLB in terms of runs scored.
Of course, it has to be said that all of those seasons were over the course of a full 162-game slate. However, despite COVID-19 shortening the 2020 regular season to 60 games, the Padres have turned a new leaf on offense. The Friars are currently second in all of MLB in runs scored (163) heading into Tuesday’s action (the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the field with 171 runs scored).
No week of offense for San Diego has emphasized more on this new leaf than their last week of action.
Oh, where to start?
Well, the team had a spotless record (7-0), for one. The Padres’ lineup played a major factor toward the record, as from August 17-24 they collectively slashed .296/.375/.571. This would amount to an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of .946. Even through yesterday’s action (where the Padres did not play) heading into today’s game schedule, this OPS would rank third in the majors, behind only the New York Mets (1.088) and Chicago White Sox (1.020). San Diego’s collective strikeout percentage (K%) of 18.4% also ranked third in the majors (behind the Mets’ 16.5 K% and the 18.3 K% of the Washington Nationals). In other words, San Diego not only hit well, but hit efficiently, as they did not strike out in heavy doses. With the sport becoming more strikeout happy, San Diego went against the grain. And it paid off.
Individually speaking, the Padres stood out even more, as four batters with a minimum of 10 plate appearances (PA’s) had an OPS over 1.000 during the stretch. Manny Machado, the big-ticket offseason acquisition two winters ago, led the pack, as he put together a 1.290 OPS. Jake Cronenworth, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Trent Grisham followed closely behind with their 1.192, 1.116 and 1.039 OPS numbers, respectively. Give San Diego’s front office (and wallet) credit – all four players, at some point in their careers, were with other organizations.
Talent evaluation and scouting aside, the Padres did not merely hit.
San Diego’s 18 home runs hit during the Aug. 17-24 stretch were second only to the White Sox (24). Six Friar batters hit at least two home runs (Machado, Tatis Jr., Grisham, Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar and Austin Hedges).
The news of the week in regard to San Diego taters, of course, came in the form of hitting not one, not two, but five grand slams.
After Chris Woodward and the Texas Rangers voiced displeasure last Monday evening at Tatis Jr. mashing one out with the bases juiced (despite already being up by seven runs), the Padres did not let traditionally unwritten rules hinder them.
Instead, it encouraged them.
Myers would hit a grand slam the following game. Machado would then follow that up with a walk-off salami in extra innings Wednesday evening. Eric Hosmer would then hit one Thursday to help complete the sweep against the same Rangers team that attempted to impose their traditionalist will on them. San Diego’s stretch of four consecutive games with a grand slam was not only a moral victory, but a historic one as well – it was the first time in MLB history a team hit a grand slam in four consecutive games. To only add a cherry on top, Cronenworth added a bases loaded jack of his own against the Houston Astros Saturday.
The zest is there this season. The lineup is hitting extremely well. It is a flavor San Diego is not used to.
Even still, the Padres are welcoming it.
The renaissance is here for San Diego, and if last week’s production is any indicator, it is here to stay.