Let’s Talk 2022 San Diego Padres Lineup Construction

Jul 22, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer (30) advances to third base on a wild pitch by Miami Marlins relief pitcher Jordan Holloway (not pictured) in the 2nd inning at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 22, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer (30) advances to third base on a wild pitch by Miami Marlins relief pitcher Jordan Holloway (not pictured) in the 2nd inning at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

With less than two weeks remaining in the 2021 season, the San Diego Padres will have plenty of time to ponder what went wrong. The season began with so much promise, but it has regressed to a frustrating, bitter end.

So, how do the Fighting Friars erase the results of their demise? Well, let’s talk about constructing a lineup for the 2022 Padres.

Inconsistent Offense Primary Reason For San Diego Padres Struggles

One of the primary reasons for the Pads’ struggles has been the offense. Too many peaks and valleys for one baseball season. The lack of a consistent offensive attack made the Friars susceptible to prolonged losing streaks. If the bats struggled at the plate, then the team spiraled into mediocrity.

More Padres. The Jake Arrieta Error is over. light

Since July 30, the Padres have gone 16-28 and fallen out of the National League wild-card chase. The lineup has been shut out six times during that same period. The team’s batting stats do not match the lineup’s talent level.

The Padres will have several new bats in the lineup next season. You can expect two new additions to the outfield and perhaps a new face behind the plate. For 2022, it is all about constructing a lineup where each player’s hitting approach compliments one another. It should produce more runs on a consistent basis.

Hosmer and Nola Could Never Get On-Track Offensively

The lack of run production coincided with Eric Hosmer’s prolonged batting slump. Coincidently, it began after his name was bandied about during the trade deadline. Hosmer has an excellent glove at first base, but he is a flawed hitter. However, his bat’s silence (batted .244 in August)  has been deafening during the San Diego Padres’ recent slide.

Austin Nola injured his knee in late April and never could get into a groove at the plate upon his return to the lineup. He was not bad, but certainly not up to his standards. Nola’s lack of production is not the main cause of the Padres’ misfortunes in the second half of the season.

However in 56 games played this season, Nola has only 14 extra-base hits (2 home runs and 12 doubles) in 173 at-bats. His ability to hit the ball into the gaps has all but evaporated. Much like golf, baseball is a hard sport to conquer. Players cannot parachute into a lineup and begin hitting after a lengthy absence. The Padres did not acquire Nola for his defensive skills. Suddenly, the catcher position is in question for 2022.

The lack of production from each player might have sealed their fate of being shipped out of town this offseason.

A Change at the Top of the Order

The Padres will need to acquire a bonafide leadoff hitter in the upcoming offseason. They need a player who is capable of getting on base at a higher clip and can hit to all fields. In 2021, the Friars have used several players in that role and all not named Fernando Tatis Jr. struggled to get on base consistently.

Trent Grisham was given every opportunity to become the Padres leadoff hitter, but his disappointing (batting average, on-base percentage and OPS) numbers in the position failed to jump-start the offense. Some might argue the sampling provided is not enough to move Grisham down the order. But it will allow him to find his swing and utilize his surprising power to drive in more runs.

Adam Frazier is an ideal No.2 hitter in the lineup. Despite his struggles in San Diego, Frazier can get on base with regularity. He is a proven hitter who is willing to take pitches to draw walks. Hopefully, it will turn into a boon for the Padres’ run producers next season. The more runners on base, the more RBI opportunities for those big hitters.

The middle of the San Diego Padres order needs to remain intact. It does not matter in what order as Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth and Tatis Jr. have proven to hit anywhere in the lineup. All three players have a proven track record of driving runs, especially in key moments of close games.

Tatis Jr. was an excellent leadoff hitter, but he has made a seamless transition to the third position in the batting order. Part of the reason has been Tatis Jr.’s ability to not changing his approach at the plate. He patiently waits for his pitch, then drives the ball to either gap in the outfield. It allows him to utilize his outstanding speed on the base path. Hopefully, forcing the opposing team into making an error and scoring an unearned run.

It might be wise for the Padres to insert Machado in the cleanup spot and bat Cronenworth in the fifth position. Machado is the Friars’ best power hitter. Cronenworth is closing the gap on being the team’s best clutch hitter. But he will need to improve on his slugging numbers before assuming the cleanup position.

DH in the National League Could Give Friars a Deep Lineup

It will be hard for the Padres to create a blueprint for 2022 until a new collective bargain agreement with the players is in place. The deal will confirm whether or not the designated hitter is used in the NL.

If the change takes place, then the addition could give the Padres one of the deepest lineups in baseball. They could add another run producer to mix or insert a bench player at the bottom of the lineup. Either path can lead the Friars to score more runs next season.

Most American League teams use the DH position to insert a proven hitter who is a defensive liability. Others will use the position as a half-rest day for their everyday players. Once the front office begins to put together the lineup, the latter might be a more viable option to limit any threat of IL stints for your key players.

This approach has become a necessary tool in keeping a roster healthy for a 162-game campaign. Injuries played a role in the Padres’ offensive troubles. Too many games were lost by Tatis Jr., Grisham and Nola that placed a spotlight on the Padres porous bench. It would not hurt to sprinkle a day at DH in between starts for those regulars most nights.

The uncertainty of how the 2022 San Diego Padres will look is real. Likely a number of the mentioned players will be playing elsewhere next season.

The Friar Faithful should not panic as some tough decisions will have to be made to improve the lineup. But do not assume the front office has begun making inquiries on the availability of potential trade targets.

Next. Machado showing needed leadership. dark

It does mean the organization is sitting on its hands. No, the San Diego Padres will have to self-examine every aspect of their baseball operations before moving forward.

The level of change is not clear, but changes are coming.