Peace through victory - the American way.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's Not Petco Park, It's The Weak Hitting Padres

Since the Padres began playing at Petco Park there have been constant complaints by the players about the difficulty of hitting there. The latest theme is that the ballpark was built for low scoring games, 2-1 or 3-2, scores like that. (Here.)

Well, here are some facts from this season's first 25 games at home:

Padres runs scored: 83 or 3.3 runs per game.
Visitors runs scored: 113 or 4.5 runs per game.

But here's where the Padres really show their weakness.

Padres homeruns: 13 or 1 homerun every 1.9 games.
Visitors homeruns: 30 or 1 homerun every 0.83 game.

It's not the park. It's the team. The Padres are a weak-hitting team. Their strengths are pitching and defense. Those are a good foundation for a winning team because good pitching and defense will keep a team in the game. But it's hitting that wins games. You can't win unless you score more than the other team.

The Padres have trouble doing that. Here are two reasons why. Vinny Castilla, the regular third baseman swings at the first pitch every time he bats. Every time! Does this guy know how to take a pitch? Maybe the coaches should force him to take a pitch once in a while. It couldn't hurt. Who cares if Castilla is a veteran? Who cares if giving him the take sign might insult him? Make the guy take a pitch! Castilla's first-pitch swings almost always end up as weak outs. Why Castilla continues to play as many games as he does is beyond me. He's practically a guaranteed out. Sure he can field, but so can Geoff Blum, and Blum can hit.

Free-swinging Mike Cameron bats second. The second hitter should be a contact hitter. Cameron strikes out way too often to bat second. But Bochy has Cameron hitting second. Who knows why? Maybe because he's a veteran and Bochy loves veterans. I don't know. I can't figure it out. Can anybody? Drop Cameron down in the lineup.

Here's a thought. Why not set the lineup using on-base percentage to decide who bats when? Have the player with the highest OBP bat first down to the lowest batting eighth on the theory that players who get on base more often should bat more often and the players who get on base more often should bat near each other to start a rally and keep it going. Here's how the Padres regular lineup would look.

Giles RF 396
Roberts LF 360
Piazza C 348
Cameron CF 333
Barfield 2B 306
Greene SS 304
Gonzalez 1B 291
Castilla 3B 271

Better yet:

Giles RF 396
Roberts LF 360
Piazza C 348
Cameron CF 333
Blum 3B 320
Barfield 2B 306
Greene SS 304
Gonzalez 1B 291

Too mechanical for you? Fine, flip Roberts and Giles so that Roberts can make things happen with his baserunning.

Here's a typical Bochy lineup.

Roberts LF 360
Cameron CF 333
Giles RF 396
Piazza C 348
Greene SS 304
Gonzalez 1B 291
Castilla 3B 271
Barfield 2B 306

Bochy also mechanically replaces players in the lineup based on when the regular player hits not when the replacment player should hit. For instance, Eric Young usually spells Roberts and bats first. This despite the fact that Young's OBP is a paltry 254 and his batting average is 189. Is there an intelligent thought behind that tactic?

-tdr

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