San Diego Padres: 2017 Season Review and Offseason Preview

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Brad Hand /
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DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 17: Brad Hand /

What Went Right

It’s tough to find a good hitter on the team that scored the fewest runs in baseball. There were only three above average hitters on the roster who had significant playing time. Jose Pirela had the best wRC+ on the team, at 122, which means he was 22 percent better than average as a hitter after league and ballpark effects were taken into account.

Pirela didn’t join the Padres until June. First, he crushed Triple-A pitching by hitting .331/.387/.635 in 48 games with the El Paso Chihuahuas. After joining the Padres, he hit .288/.347/.490 while playing mostly in left field. He also a handful of games in right field, at second base, and at first base.

Center fielder Manuel Margot was a top-100 prospect on the Baseball America list before each of the last three seasons, ranking as high as 24th prior to the 2017 season. As a 22-year-old rookie this year, Margot hit .263/.313/.409 and provided good defense in center field. He also finished second on the team in steals, with 17.

The “ace” of the pitching rotation was Jhoulys Chacin (3.89 ERA, 4.26 FIP in 180.3 innings), who tied for the team lead in starts and had the best ERA of the three pitchers on the Padres who qualified for the ERA title. Clayton Richard (4.79 ERA, 4.23 FIP in 197.3 innings) also tied for the team lead in starts and pitched 17 more innings than Chacin. His ERA was worse than Chacin, but his FIP was better.

The best news out of the Padres bullpen was the emergence of Brad Hand at closer after Brandon Maurer was traded away in July. Hand saved 21 games and struck out 104 batters in 79.3 innings. He could be a useful trade chip.

Before coming to the Padres prior to the 2016 season, Hand split time between starting and relieving with the Marlins. In five seasons, he had a 4.71 ERA and 4.54 FIP in 288.7 innings. In two seasons in San Diego, he has a 2.56 ERA and 3.05 FIP in 168.7 innings. His strikeout rate went from 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings with the Marlins to 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings with the Padres.