Padres exec A.J. Preller produced the best season of any MLB general manager.
For San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller, the 2020 MLB season might have been a personal justification.
Since becoming general manager prior to the start of the 2015 season. Preller has been one of the game’s most prolific front office figures, one of its most promising, and one of its most disappointing.
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Until this year, Preller’s front office had produced only one season with a positive contribution to the team’s on-field performance. That finally, and decisively changed in 2020.
The 4.4 games by which Preller’s moves improved the Padres’ talent base in 2020 was the best in MLB. Extended over the course of a normal 162-game season, it amounted to nearly 12 games, an extraordinary level of accomplishment that has not been surpassed since 2015.
Our front office ratings are based on the collective short-term impact, as measured by Wins Above Average, of every personnel move made by every front office since the conclusion of play in 2019. A positive number represents a front office success. In a few cases, those marked by an asterisk, the front office really succeeded; it generated a more positive impact than the margin by which the team qualified for post-season play.
If a rating is negative, that means the team’s front office reduced the club’s talent base during 2020. And woe betides a front office that gets an asterisk for negative performance; that means the team’s execs dealt, promoted or signed their way out of the playoffs. Those rare instances are marked by an X.
As a general proposition, front offices influence their team’s performance in five ways:
- By the players they acquire in trades, purchase, or waiver claims with other teams.
- By the players they lose in those deals.
- By the free agents they sign.
- By the players they release or lose to free agency.
- By the rookies they promote.
Findings for the other divisions in both leagues have already been reported. This analysis of the NL West front offices is not ordered on final standing, but rather on the extent of the front office’s positive or negative contribution to the team profile.