With apologies to Rogers Hornsby who just stares out the window waiting for spring all winter, not all players played for winning team like Mr. Hornsby. While spring training is an exciting team where hope can spring eternal and every team is technically even at 0-0, we all know that’s not exactly true.
The San Diego Padres for example only won 68 games last season and according to FanGraphs are expected to win just 62 in 2017. They face tough competition in the NL West with the Dodgers and Giants and an Arizona team that had high hopes for last season but has A.J. Pollock coming back and expect a Shelby Miller rebound.
I have to say though – I think there are a lot of reasons to watch the San Diego Padres this season. The starting pitcher will be dreadful, this much we know. Yet among the drudgery there are a few stories to watch. Clayton Richard pitched well after missing all of 2014 and coming back late 2015. He will likely be the Opening Day starter – I believe he was the Padres home opening day starter in 2013 against the Dodgers before going down to injury.
Last year Luis Perdomo was a Rule 5 draft pick (meaning he had to stay all season on the ML roster or risk being sent back to his previous team) and was horrible to start the year. In April his ERA was nearly 11, in May it was over 9, and June he locked it in at 7 in 4 starts. Then a funny thing happened: he brought it down to 3.99 for July and 3.24 in August. He saw a slight uptick in September no doubt due to the workload but certainly has some upside.
The excitement though for the Padres is in the outfield. Hunter Renfroe, their 2013 1st round draft pick, finally got called up to the Majors at the end of 2016 and all he did was hit a home run on top of the Western Metal Supply Building. Manuel Margot, the projected center fielder with a good spring training, was in San Diego for the All Star Futures Game and showed what he can do with a home run robbing catch.
Beyond that, the Padres have signed Wil Myers to a contract extension so as long as some pieces do develop this season he will be around and hopefully still healthy for a few years after that. At second base the question is between pure power in Ryan Schimpf and another former first round pick in Cory Spangenberg who was hurt last year but has showed flashes of being a very good player. Austin Hedges behind the plate FINALLY gets his shot at being the everyday catcher after a great offensive season at AAA in 2016.
Spring Training. The Padres can’t really expect to be very good in 2017, but they have some very exciting players to watch as the 2017 season rolls along. That gives hope to a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2010. It could be sooner than later that this team is talking about making sure the Giants don’t get than even year mojo flowing again in 2018.