Ballpark factors are sometimes overestimated, especially when a park is perceived as one that leaves hitters with little or no chance. PETCO Park, however, is a true pitcher's haven and leaves hitters little or no chance. Combined, home runs and doubles - heck, total hits - happen less often there than anywhere else in the league. Strikeouts tick way up, and walks rise only slightly.
The Padres didn't need much help to put up the lowest batting average and lowest slugging percentage in the league last season. The team ranked 15th in on-base plus slugging; adjusted for each team's home park, they jumped to ninth. Of Adrian Gonzalez's 76 home runs since the start of 2008, 50 came on the road.
Obviously, all the terrible things PETCO does to hitters turn into great things for pitchers. Yet San Diego gave up the seventh-most runs in the league last season, essentially continuing 2008's theme.
Their starters got through a league-worst 5.4 innings per start, which is only a bit worse than their typical mark. Many young hurlers took their lumps last season, however, and the team should have stronger showings from Mat Latos, Clayton Richard and others in 2010.
In the bullpen, watch out for a midseason fire sale. Health Bell was trade bait last year and all offseason. If he were to be moved, setup man Luke Gregerson, most likely at this point, would immediately become an attractive commodity in all formats.
Everth Cabrera had a miserable first year at shortstop in the major meagues, committing 23 errors in 102 games. He's a hard worker and has the tools to be good there, though, so his prospective impact on groundball-shading hurlers like Kevin Correia remains a mystery.
David Eckstein was once an OK shortstop but is now a decrepit second baseman. The Friars will do better on groundballs when Jerry Hairston Jr. gets starts there.
As long as the club keeps Kyle Blanks in left field, where he shouldn't hurt them, the outfield will be pretty strong. That move was facilitated by the trade of subpar Kevin Kouzmanoff to the Oakland Athletics; it allowed Chase Headley to move back to the hot corner, his natural position.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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