The kick is coming -- isn't it? At any moment now the San Diego Padres, like the crew of thieves in
But here's why the kick may not ever come: the Padres' no-name pitching staff, which leads the majors with a 3.25 ERA, just may be this good:
The past two winters there's been a lot of talk of a kind of revolution in the game: a re-emphasis on team fielding, an embracing of the new Moneyball. This offseason the Mariners and the Red Sox were the poster-children of the new glove affair. The team the cognoscenti snoozed on were the Padres, who are looking like this year's version of the 2008 Rays and 2009 Mariners. San Diego, which won 75 games and was outscored by 131 runs last year, has improved in the most cost effective way: by bolstering their team defense.
Earlier this year I asked analyst
The Padres may not be what Tango considers a "great fielding team," but it's abundantly clear that they have at least gone from being a below average fielding team to a very good one. A year after ranking 18th in baseball in UZR (-10.7), they lead the majors (+36.2). According to
Entering play Tuesday night, four San Diego players ranked in the top two in the NL at their position in UZR: first baseman
The Padres may not win the NL West. The Rockies may not cool off, and the Giants' pitching is simply too good to ignore. But as long as the Padres keep feeling the glove, they will be the team to beat in the west.