Padres in first place? That's not the only surprise so far this year
Here's yet another surprise from the first-year general manager of the team that has been the season's biggest surprise to date.
"If we're winning games, we're going to try to win more games,'' Hoyer said. "If we're in the race, we're going to look to add.''
Through 27 games, to everyone's surprise but theirs, the mostly anonymous Padres are leading a tight, tougher-than-you-think National League West with a 17-10 record. To them, it's just a continuation of their solid play late last year (a 37-25 finish) and better play this spring (a 15-2-2 finish).
"This team is playing with a lot of confidence,'' Hoyer said. "They don't see any reason why they can't do it.''
According to Hoyer, in fact, the Padres got "(ticked) off'' about the near unanimous perception they will finish last. And it's true most folks still look at San Diego as a lovely mirage. "The Padres aren't going to win the West, come on,'' one competing executive opined sarcastically on Tuesday, providing another niblet for the Padres to chew on. (That exec doesn't believe the Padres will add if they need to, either. "I don't think they're going to spend money,'' he said.)
"They feed off the fact that people don't believe in them,'' Hoyer said of Padres players and coaches. He added that the team has one big collective "chip on its shoulder,''
Coming into the season, San Diego was seen as a team much more likely to make noise by trading hometown hero and star first baseman
The Padres place is entirely unexpected by everyone but them, but it's pretty obvious how they're doing it. Their 2.81 ERA is second best in the majors to St. Louis' 2.56 and their 8.12 strikeouts per nine innings are second best to the Cubs' 8.45.
The rotation has been enhanced by spring standout
"You get to seventh inning behind, you see
The latter two have been especially effective. Gregerson has a 1.76 ERA and 16 strikeouts against just two walks and Bell has converted all seven of his save chances and has a 1.64 ERA.
The issue is the offense, which is long on youth, relies on speed (their 31 steals rank second in the majors) and isn't helped by expansive Petco Park. Like his players, Hoyer believes this surprising team can continue to contend. But he said, "In order to do that, our offense has to be more consistent. We have some young players we have to get going in the right direction. Right now, we're striking out a little too much.''
The Padres have struck out 224 times, third-worst in the majors.
1. Both Los Angeles teams are in last place. The Angels, winner of six of the past eight AL West titles, are 12-16. The Dodgers, an NL finalist the last two seasons, are 11-15.
2. Neither Chicago team has a winning record, with the White Sox 11-16 and the Cubs 13-14. It'll be interesting to see which manager blows first --
3. The Braves, who have the greatest rookie phenom in decades in
4. The Nationals, who didn't expect to be very good until
5. The Mets are 15-12, but contained in there was a 10-1 streak.
6. The Astros are 8-18, but have bookend eight-game losing streaks.
7. The Pirates' team ERA is 6.60. It's not a surprise they have the worst ERA in baseball, only that it's a full run worse than anyone else.
8. A trio of guys with big contracts are finally paying off. The Blue Jays'
9. Tigers rookie
10. Cardinals rookie
12. Phillies catcher
16. Normally light-hitting shortstop
17. First-year Met
19. Last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Florida's
20. Not to be outdone,
21. Mark Teixeira has a .289 slugging percentage.
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• Good to hear
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• Converted shortstop
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• Best wishes to Padres employee and stolen-base expert