2014 Final Record — 77-85 (3rd Place)
2015 Projected Record — 89-73 (2nd Place)
After finishing in the middle of of the pack in the NL West in 2015, rookie GM AJ Preller comes in and remakes the entire image of the Padres in one offseason. After watching him make trade after trade this past Fall, I thought he might have confused his job with his fantasy team. After the dust settled, he addressed the league’s worst hitting team and also solidified the top of his rotation. Last year the team finished dead last in all three aspects of the team slash line (.226/.292/.342). CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I can see the Padres improving on last year’s record by 12 games and battle for a Wild Card spot in the National League. We do have to consider that the new lineup is now hitting half of their games in spacious Petco Park, which can have some impact on their power numbers. This does not mean that you shouldn’t target them. Let’s take a look at the 2015 Fantasy Impact of the San Diego Padres roster.
Projected Starting Lineup
|1||Will Myers – CF||Not your typical leadoff man, but no one in this lineup is a SB or OBP guy. Reasonable expectations would be 18-20 HRs, 70 RBIs (due to lack of players on the bases when he’s up) and 10 SB. .270/.350/.450 projected slash line.|
|2||Yonder Alonso – 1B||Another odd lineup slot, he has the best contact rate and is the only lefty in the projected starting lineup. 15-18 HRs, 60 RBIs and a lot of moving runners into scoring position.|
|3||Matt Kemp – RF||At 30 years old with years of lingering injuries, Kemp is not the MVP candidate he used to be. However, he brings a veteran hitter into the middle of this lineup and could still hit 25 HRs, 90 HRs and and steal 10 bases.|
|4||Justin Upton – LF||Bats cleanup and represents the only hitter on the team that could reach 30 HRs and 100 RBIs. Playing 82 games in Petco will make it tough, but if he can cut back on a few strikeouts, he could have a renaissance season in San Diego.|
|5||Derek Norris – C||He has a chance to catch nearly every day and could approach 20 HRs and 65 RBIs. Solid contribution for a catcher that you could get in later rounds of the draft.|
|6||Will Middlebrooks/Yangervis Solarte – 3B||Hopefully you aren’t counting on either guy to be your starting 3B. As long as he doesn’t embarrass himself, Middlebrooks should get the lion’s share of starts at 3B, but Solarte can play several positions and could find 300-400 ABs. Middlebrooks has power and little else. Solarte is only worth an injury fill or deep league play.|
|7||Jedd Gyorko – 2B||Still waiting for Gyorko to have that breakout season…and we will likely still be waiting. He offers excellent power for the position, but I’d be surprised if he hits over .250. If he does, he may turn out to be a good value as you should be able to get him in the later rounds.|
|8||Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes – SS||Could be a strict platoon. Regardless of who gets the nod, there is nothing to see hear unless you are in 16+ team league with deep rosters. In this case, Amarista could be nice depth move due to being eligible at nearly every infield position.|
Impact Hitting Prospects for 2015
Hunter Renfroe, RF – If everything goes as planned for San Diego this year, Renfroe won’t get called up until September, if at all. He is the best prospect in the system and will likely start the season in AA. The Padres are very high on his plus power and plus arm that you get the feeling that they may let Justin Upton walk after his contract is up at the end of the year. Renfroe should already be on your radar in dynasty leagues. Keep an eye out that if Upton or Kemp sustains a serious injury, Renfroe might get the call.
Cory Spangenberg, 2B/3B/OF – He could make the team out of camp or be up anytime during the season. He is versatile and could be a valuable utility player this season.
Rymer Liriano, OF – This was supposed to be the year where Liriano made the club and claimed an everyday job in the Padres outfield. After missing 2013 with Tommy John surgery, he worked off the rust last season and even had a brief appearance in San Diego. It didn’t go all that well, but know one doubts the tools. He has plus raw power, but is still developing his plate discipline and hit tool. San Diego has a few journeymen and underachievers on their bench for the OF. Liriano could be called up to back up any OF position, although his strong arm profiles him more toward RF. Deep rosters and Dynasty leagues are the only rosters he should be considered for.
Final Lineup Thoughts
This lineup is much improved over last year simply due to the outfield acquisitions. There are still some question marks (3B? SS?) and by and large, they are too aggressive at the plate. High strikeout rates and low walk rates could result in a lot of stalled rallies. Despite the holes, they certainly won’t finish last in all the offensive categories as they did last year. The big names will bring some excitement to the park, but temper your expectations, as the park will swallow up some home runs. This is not a fantasy hitter’s wasteland as it was the last few years.
|1||James Shields||Preller didn’t just remake his outfield, but signed “Big Game” James to anchor his rotation. He will love pitching in Petco and should have a good season at the age of 33. Projections: 17 Wins, 22 QS, 3.30 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 7.5 K/9.|
|2||Tyson Ross||I look for Ross to build off his breakout season from last year. He needs to improve his command (3.3 BB/9 in 2014), but he will get you at least 9.0 K/9, 15 Wins and a sub-3.00 ERA.|
|3||Andrew Cashner||Cash has the stuff to be a #1 starter. He has been plagued by injury throughout his career. Healthy Projections: 16 Wins, 20+ QS, 2.75 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 7.0 K/9|
|4||Ian Kennedy||The former #1 Padres starter takes a back seat to the others and could become a sneaky stud pitcher this season. Another one with command as his achilles (3.1 BB/9 in 2014), he can still help lead your fantasy team to victory with around 14 Wins, 200+ INN and 200+ Ks. An innings eater with strikeouts, sign me up!|
|5||Brandon Morrow||The fifth starter may be a black hole this year. It seems like the favorite at publication of this article is Morrow, but that could change tomorrow. Morrow can’t stay healthy but has always had nasty stuff. If he falters, they won’t hesitate to bring up one of the young guys to take his place. Morrow is probably only worth your while as a streaming option or deep leagues.|
Joaquin Benoit (CL) — He might be 37, but he had an amazing season last here with a 1.49 ERA and 64 Ks in 54.1 innings. Now that he is the man, expect 35+ saves, around a 2.10 ERA and 1.100 WHIP. Lower Tier RP1 target.
Kevin Quackenbush (SU) — He is valuable in leagues that reward middle reliever stats. As the 8th inning setup up guy, he could earn 22+ holds, [75:25] K:BB ratio and around 2.75 ERA.
Shawn Kelley & Nick Vincent (MID) — Here are a few deeper options if you are required to start four or five RP. Both guys should get you 15+ Holds and over 10.0 K/9. Vincent will provide a decent ERA and WHIP, but Kelley walks too many.
Impact Pitching Prospects for 2015
Matt Wisler, RHP (AAA) — This could be your 5th starter by the end of the season. He has already spent a year in AAA and will be ready for San Diego early in the season. He has great command of his sinking fastball and a plus slider. At the big league level, he will likely walk almost 3.0 BB/9 but he should also strikeout over 7.0 K/9. If he spends around ⅔ of the season in the Bigs, he could get 8-10 Wins in that span. He is worth monitoring during the spring, but there is no reason to draft him unless you are in a dynasty league.
Final Pitching Thoughts
The main reason I see them vying for a Wild Card berth this season the strength (and health?) of these arms. The rotation is four deep and all could win around 15 games each. The 5th spot will likely be a work in progress and could showcase some of their young pitchers in the farm system. My only worry is that the top 4 guys in the rotation are all right-handers and could be vulnerable to clubs with strong left-handed hitters. That being said, you should be targeting all four. I especially like the the value of Kennedy, who may be the forgotten man. All four will strike guys out and they all should have a sub 4.00 ERA. Benoit is a great play in redraft leagues as he could have a really strong year. At 37 he doesn’t hold keeper/dynasty value. It should be fun to see if this staff can propel the Padres back to the playoffs.
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