Coming off a strong 2022 NLCS finish, expectations were high for J.J. Preller and his San Diego Padres. If any team was to dethrone the perennial National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the judgment went, Preller had put it together in San Diego.
Well, somebody is in the process of dethroning the Dodgers … and it isn’t the Padres. Preller’s team sits fourth in the NL West, a disappointing 37-44. How much of the fault for that failure falls on Preller?
Grading the San Diego Padres at the midway point of the 2023 season
What follows is a mid-term assessment of Preller’s personnel decisions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Series with a particular focus on the extent to which those decisions have helped or hindered the Padres’ performance.
The standard of measurement in Wins Above Average (WAA), a variant of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For this purpose, WAA is preferable because unlike WAR, it is zero-based. That means the sum of all the decisions made by Preller impacting the 2023 team gives at least a good estimate of the number of games those moves have improved (or worsened) the team’s status this season.
A team’s front office impacts that team’s standing in five ways. Those five are:
1. By the impact of players it acquires from other teams via trade, purchase or waiver claim.
2. By the impact of players it surrenders to other teams in those same transactions.
3. By the impact of players it signs at free agency or extends.
4. By the impact of players it loses to free agency or releases.
5. By the impact of players it promotes from its own farm system.
Here’s how Preller stacks up by those five yardsticks.