Tuesday, November 08, 2005

« '05 Recap: Padres »

By Suss
The San Diego Padres
Manager: Bruce Bochy (11th year)
2005: 82-80; 1st place, NL West
Lost in 1st round of NLDS
—1st half: 48-41
—2nd half: 34-39
2004: 87-75; 3rd place

Leaders (hitting)
Batting Avg: Brian Giles (.301)
Home Runs: Ryan Klesko (18)
RBI: Giles (83)
On-base pct: Giles (.423)
Stolen bases: Dave Roberts (23)

Leaders (pitching)
ERA: Jake Peavy (2.88)
Wins: Peavy (13)
Strikeouts: Peavy (216)
Holds: Scott Linebrink (26)
Saves: Trevor Hoffman (43)

Free agents:
SP Pedro Astacio
C Robert Fick
RF Brian Giles
RP Chris Hammond
C Ramon Hernandez
RP Trevor Hoffman
3B Joe Randa
RP Rudy Seanez
1B Mark Sweeney

► Peavy's 216 strikeouts led the league and was second in the majors only to Johan Santana's 238.

► The last team which won its division with only 82 wins was the '73 Mets.

► The Padres had its best month in franchise history, winning 22 games in May while only losing 6.
The 2005 Padres will be remembered as a little team that, with some success and a series of peaks and valleys, won an injury-laden division and got no respect doing so.

And 82-80 record is not special. Maybe it's the low-IQ kind of special but certainly nothing worth touting them as good as dominant as the other five division winners.

Yeah yeah, San Diego would have finished fourth had they been in the National League East. They would have only beaten .500 teams Washington and/or Milwaukee by a single game had they been in the same division.

But here's the thing -- they weren't in the same division. San Diego won a brutal, albeit weak, division. They didn't even have the best record in their division -- that "feat" belonging to the Diamondbacks. They had the best out-of-division record, including a winning record against NL East teams and specifically the Braves. That was more than enough to seal the division.

Their primary Achilles' heel was consistency on offense. They didn't help their cause by shipping fan favorite Phil Nevin to the Rangers for a pitcher (Chan Ho Park), but they did acquire base-knocker Joe Randa from the Reds to replace a struggling Sean Burroughs. In the end, they finished in the last quartile in the NL in homers, slugging runs scored and dead last in extra-base hits.

Their pitching was very middle-of the road, finishing 7th (out of 16) in ERA (4.13). Their dominant ace was lone All-Star Jake Peavy (13-7, 2.88 ERA), who had arguably the best complete pitching season in Padres history since Padre legend Randy Jones' 1976 Cy Young campaign. While the wins weren't there, he did have the league's most strikeouts (216), fourth in WHIP (1.04), third in complete game shutouts (3rd with 3) and sixth in ERA (2.88).

The bullpen pulled their own weight by accumulating the second best pen ERA (3.49) in the NL. The ageless Trevor Hoffman saved 43 games, jumping two spots to 2nd place all-time with 436. (If he saves 43 more next year, he will surpass Lee Smith as the all-time save leader. Scott Linebrink, Rudy Seanez and Clay Hensley all contributed with sub-3.00 ERAs as relievers.

And every year, the Padres pick up some vagabond veteran player and has a pretty good year. This year, Pedro Astacio, a waiver acquisition, put together a nice 4-2, 3.17 ERA season, joining the ranks of Fernando Valenzuela, Rickey Henderson, Rod Beck and David Wells in the Spanish Dads' "So That's What Happened To Him" hall.

So the little team that could (win a ravaged division) didn't get much postseason glory, but they must now focus on next season as their division foes reload with talent and aim for the bullseye on the Padres' backs.