Offensive Explosion In San Diego

It must feel like the Mets’ three game shutout streak from last week was ages ago. On Monday night, the San Diego Padres unloaded 18 runs on the Mets. The New York pitchers – Hisanori Takahashi, Raul Valdes, Ryota Igarashi, Jenrry Mejia, and Oliver Perez – allowed 28 of the 48 batters they faced to reach base. Fifteen of those hitters reached via the single. Two more hitters recorded doubles and another pair homered. The last nine reached on eight walks and a hit by pitch.

That line comes out to a .550 wOBA for the Padres on the night. That line suggests that the Padres should’ve scored about 13.5 runs in this game — still an outburst of offense but not quite the staggering number of an 18-run game. Despite only hitting four extra base hits, the Padres managed to keep the runners scoring, and the eight walks didn’t clog the bases.

What’s really remarkable is how the Padres hitters managed to be successful despite hitting so many ground balls. Seventeen of the 35 balls put in play by the Padres were on the ground, and although three of them resulted in double plays, a whopping nine of them resulted in hits. The resulting .529 average on ground balls is more than double the league average. Even a streak of hard hit ground balls tends to result in a few going straight to an infielder. The Mets’ infield defense of David Wright, Jose Reyes, Alex Cora, and Ike Davis isn’t exactly a team of butchers, either. The Padres just managed to “find the holes” and “hit it where they ain’t.” When that happens, much like it did against Milwaukee on April 30, there just isn’t much that a team can do.

That said, the Padres certainly didn’t just luck their way into the victory. As a team, the Padres hit 18 balls in the air, including eight line drives. The eight walks indicated patience at the plate. Adrian Gonzalez did have two hits and two walks, but most of the production came from elsewhere in the lineup. Jerry Hairston, Jr. hit a grand slam. Nick Hundley had three hits, including a double, as did Chris Denorfia. In fact, the only position players for the Padres not to reach base were pinch hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr. and second basemen David Eckstein — the same David Eckstein that entered play on Monday with a .348 OBP.

It’s hard to believe that a team with a lineup that seemed to consist of Adrian Gonzalez and then spare parts is in first place at the end of May. However, the win tonight allowed them to stay two games up on the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West as we enter June. Obviously, there are too many games left for any lead to be safe, but the Padres have shown themselves to be contenders with some tremendous run prevention and enough offense to win some baseball games. If Monday was at all a sign of things to come from this offense, the National League better watch out.

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Patrick Newman
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I didn’t see the game, but I will say this about Takahashi: outside of his screwball/sinker/changeup, the rest of his offerings are pretty average. He’ll get hittable If teams are learning to sit on the screwball and wait for his other stuff.